Cerro Chato Volcano

Arenal Volcano’s little brother, Cerro Chato Volcano, is not as high or as active as its younger sibling, but it is a wonderful destination to explore.

Located on the southeast side of Arenal Volcano, bordering the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa property, Cerro Chato (“Cerro” means mountain in Spanish) is a dormant volcano. It is believed that Cerro Chato Volcano first erupted 38,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period and last erupted about 3,500 years ago. One of its lava flows created the waterway that now leads to the La Fortuna Waterfall.

Cerro Chato’s truncated volcanic cone, covered with a thick carpet of rainforest, rises to 1,140 meters (3,740 ft). A lagoon of bluish-green water fills the 500-meter-wide (1,640-foot) crater.

Cerro Chato Hiking Tour

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is the gateway to the Cerro Chato hiking tour. The trail begins from the Arenal Observatory Lodge, climbing up Cerro Chato’s western flank. You will hike through different types of primary forest – first rainforest, then transition forest and finally in cloud forest as you get close to the summit. Wildlife, especially birds, that live in the cloud forest are very different from lower elevation rainforest, such as the Emerald Toucanet, Black Guan and the Black-faced solitaire.

At the top, the crater’s blue-green lagoon is perfect for photos, but volcanic minerals in the water make swimming inadvisable. The hike up to the crater and back to the lodge takes about four to five hours. The trail is steep and sometimes muddy; due to its extreme terrain, the Cerro Chato hike is only recommended for hikers in good physical condition.