The most spectacular and exciting feature of Costa Rica´s central and northern mountain ranges are the active volcanoes that form their high summits.Active not just a millennium or two ago; several of your friendly neighborhood volcanoes are still going strong. These are
- Poas Volcano
- Arenal Volcano
- Irazu Volcano
- Barva Volcano
- Orosi Volcano
- Tenorio Volcano
- Rincon de la Vieja Volcano
- Santa Maria Volcano
- Miravalles Volcano
The country´s quieter montainsides, fertile with the soil of eruptions eons ago, make ideal land for farmers. Most of there volcanic peaks are classified as extinct or dormant, but you can never be sure, as the small farming village of Tabacon on the slopes of Arenal found out in 1968. The entire village disappeared under lava.
Visiting the easily accesible volcanoes around San Jose – Poas and Irazu Volcanoes – is not particulary dangerous as these now vent only gas and steam – not lava. Their water-filled craters and lunar landscapes are absolutely fascinating. A day-trip to either of these volcanoes makes a truly impressive and memorable experience – certainly one not to be missed. Other active volcanoes up the Cordillera require a drive and can be visited as part of a day-trip itinerary or with an overnight stay.
The biggest attraction – and growing even bigger – is the dynamic Arenal Volcano, near La Fortuna. Arenal is a huge, cone-shaped volcano. When not obscured by clouds, it presents itself as a massive dark triangle.
Theres´s a pretty real sence of danger from being so close to such a powerful giant, but this thrill only adds a great deal to the experience.
Arenal´s appealing bonus is the hot springs that bubble up from the ground to feed warm-water streams – popular as simple swimming holes or incorporated into a spa.