Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 44, Costa Rica

We have arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica

it is still quite early so we are going to quickly grab some breakfast before going on our volcano tour!
Yes, being part of the Pacific Ring Fire Circle, Costa Rica has over 200 identifiable volca
nic formations dating back over 65 million years!

The volcanoes of Costa Rica can be divided into 3 volcanic range systems. The Guanacaste Range is home to the Ricon de la Vieja, Orosi Volcano, Miravalles Volcano, Tenorio Volcano & Arenal Volcano, while the Central Volcanic Range is made up of the Poas Volcano, Barva Volcano, Irazu Volcano, & Turrialba Volcano.
Of all these volcanoes the Arenal, Poas, Ricon de la Vieja, Orosi & Irazu are considered active.

Okay, I know this sounds really exciting so let's see how many we can view.....
The most accessible active volcano in Costa Rica is the Poas Volcano, which sits in the national park of the same name.The best time to view the crater is early in the morning before the clouds cover the crater and the lake so we are going right now. The road to Poás Volcano National Park is really beautiful, and as we ascended the mountain we passed many coffee plantations that are varying colors of green...and then after the coffee plantaions ...the landscape changed into a cloud forest that is truly amazing!!

We all have our raincoats in our backpacks as the volcano is in a cloud forest and it ca
n be very wet and cold.

Poás Volcano is situated in the Alajuela Province at about 2,700 meters above sea level.Wow!! The active crater has a boiling acid lake and one of the inactive craters has a lovely icy cold water lake which flows down the side of the volcano to become the Rio Sarapiqui. The main crater of Poás Volcano is about 2 km in diameter and over 1000 meters deep.This is truly an amazing sight!!!

We are now going to the Irazu Volcano National Park which is home to Costa Rica's highest active volcano Irazu, which stands at around 11,260 feet. 'Irazu' is actually a derivative of an Indian word, which means 'thunder and earthquake mountain'. An active stratovolcano, Irazu has had a number of volcanic eruptions over the years. The first documented eruption was in 1723 by Diego de la Haya, after which one of Irazu's five craters has been named.

Extending over 500 square kilometers at its base, Irazu is also Costa Rica's largest volcano. The landscape of the Irazu Volcano National Park is actually quite surreal, with most of the park's forest found on the Caribbean side of the volcano. The surrounding vegetation is mostly a rainforest that has gaps of shrubs and bushes. Atop Irazu's summit, only a few plants can be found that have acclimatized themselves to the hars h conditions and chilly winds that blow here.

We have decided to hike to the Deigo de la Haya crater that has a 300 meter green-colored lake in the center of it.

Wow!!!! We can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from the summit!! The trail leading up to the summit was absolutely stunning!! The volcanic ash from Irazu has made the soil in the surrounding areas very fertile, but there is not much wildlife found here due to volcanic activity.

What's wrong?? Amit and Feroz are hungry! Okay guys, we saw rest rooms, picnic spaces, a snack stall and a souvenir shop on the way up, so we will have a picnic, freshen up, maybe purchase a souvenir or two .. .

Now the guys want to go windsurfing in the the sparkling Laguna de Arenal...Winds sweeping off the Caribbean Sea reach speeds of 48 to 72 km/hr (30 to 45 mph), making Arenal one of the best sail boarding locations in the world. ...but guys....we have appointments at the thermal spa at our resort in the Volcan Arenal area, which by the way is Costa Rica's hottest tourist destination!!

Hmmmm, we have pampered ourselves by taking a long relaxing soak amidst beautiful orchid gardens.....had dinner and now that night has fallen we are looking forward to being treated to a glorious show as red lava rocks tumble down the side of the volcano.
We are not disappointed!

The Arenal Volcano is one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world and presents a truly majestic sight, as it spews molten rocks and ash from its summit.

No, no, Marti, do not attempt to climb it as the gases from the volcano are fatal....we can actually hear the rumbling and see steam rising as lava flows down the sides of the volcano.
The Arenal is perhaps the most famous of all Costa Rica's volcanoes...and we can certainly see why!!
God's own fireworks display!!
Truly awesome!!!

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