Lying on the southern flank of Arenal Volcano, just 2.7 km (1.7 miles) away at an elevation of 735 m (2.411 ft) above sea level, and enjoying spectacular views over Lake Arenal, Arenal Observatory Lodge is the ideal place to DISCOVER the volcano, EXPLORE nature, and RELAX in the hotel. The hill on which the Lodge lies rises above Agua Caliente (Hot Water) river and Danta (Tapir) creek. This is a significant topographical consideration because it means no lava flows can breach these and come up the river banks. In terms of danger areas around the volcano, the Lodge is in Zone D (Low Danger). This is an area that receives winds from the east that would marginally affect us should there be an eruption, with limited risk of ash fall
A guided walk along the property’s trails. The walk starts from the hotel every morning at 8:30 am and lasts about two and a half hours. You start by crossing the hanging bridge (Saino / Peccary) and follow the Saino and La Hormiga (Ant) trails which cut through beautiful tropical woodland. Along the way you can discover the zone’s flora and fauna.
The walk continues into primary and secondary forest to reach a lovely waterfall and continues over the hanging bridge (Danta / Tapir) which crosses the river of the same name. Your walk then passes through pastureland and tropical vegetation bordering the river, which it crosses and where a comfortable, tractor-drawn “Jungle Bus” will take you back to the hotel.During this walk, you might observe many of the 426 bird species found in the area, along with howler monkeys, other mammals, and many insects, reptiles, and tropical flowering plants.
More than 426 bird species have been identified around Arenal Observatory Lodge, and which can be spotted in the different habitats that make up the 350 ha. (865 acres) of the Lodge. From the trails, you pass through primary forests, cattle pastures, secondary forest and solidified lava fields.
Some of the most spectacular resident species are: three-wattled bellbird, fasciated tiger-herons, sun bitterns, laughing falcons, red-lore parrots, great curassows, northern jacanas, steely-vented hummingbirds and keel-billed toucans. Ask in Reception for the complete Bird List.
The hotel lies within the Arenal National Park where primary and secondary tropical forests grow on the fertile volcanic soils, and abundant birds, mammals and reptiles flourish. The howler monkeys are often heard in the forest in the early morning or late afternoons.
An 11-km (6.84-mile) network of well marked and maintained trails criss-crosses the property, ideal for hiking, horse-back riding or bicycle rides. These trails give you access to so much local natural beauty and we also have 800 m (0.5 miles) of paved pathway for wheelchair access, which enters the tropical forest and gives excellent views of the volcano and primary forest. Seven and a half kilometers (4.6 miles) of the networked are color-coded into red, yellow, brown, blue, green and orange to help you keep your bearings. Please ask for the trail map from Reception.
La Catarata (Waterfall)
This is a favorite walk in Arenal Observatory Lodge. A moderate walk of about 1 km. from the hotel takes you along a cobble and hardcore path that drops 50 steps down a slope to the base of the six-meter (19.7-ft) high waterfall. The air is refreshing by the waterfall and spectacular ferns and palms in this lush secondary forest surround you.
You might spot monkeys (howler, spider and white-faced capuchin), birds (crested guan, toucan, Montezuma’s oropendula, tanagers, trogons), and in December you could be lucky enough to see the quetzal and hear a black-faced solitaire during their vertical migration to the property. Look out for sloths, peccary, margay and coati. This trail takes about one hour there and back.
Saino Trail (Peccary Trail)
A paved trail of approximately 650 m (0.4 mile) that takes about 45 minutes and is suitable for the physically challenged. It leads through secondary forest and the Lodge’s gardens. You can often spot coatis and monkeys (howler, spider); birds (crested guan, toucan, oropendula, clay-colored robin, tanagers), many types of humming bird (rufous-tailed, black-crested coquette, green hermit, purple-throated mountain gem) and migratory species.
Tropical flora include: guava, fig (ficus), tropical pine, ginger, heliconia, hibiscus, cecropia. La Hormiga (Ant): A 450-meter (0.28 mile) hardcore trail that can be walked in about 25 minutes. The path goes through both secondary and primary forest. You might be able to see coati, sloth, anteater, monkeys (howler, spider, white-faced capuchin); birds (crested guan, toucan, oropendula, clay-colored robin, tanagers, trogons and migrating species in August or March such as the umbrella bird which migrates vertically). Tropical trees include fig (ficus), guava and zapote.
Los Cangrejos Trail (The Crabs)
This trail cuts through primary forest for 500 m (0.31 mile) and can be walked in about 20 minutes. It starts 2 km (1.23 mile) from Reception (part of the trail to Chato volcano). Some species that inhabit this part are peccary, armadillos, rabbits, coati, monkeys (howler, spider, white-faced capuchin); birds such as crested guan, toucan, oropendula, tanagers, trogons, chestnut-capped brush finch, and white hawk. Trees along the trail include guava, cecropia, naked Indian and pilon
Lava Vieja (Old Lava) Trail
This trail leaves the hotel and drops down to the Agua Caliente (Hot Water) river. Beyond there, the trail is out of bounds because it used to pass through a high-risk zone to reach the foot of Arenal volcano. During this walk, you will see how plants have recolonized, and with luck, you should spot some howler monkeys. The trails is quite challenging because of the uneven ground and takes about 40 minutes there and back