Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park

Arenal Volcano had been one of the most active volcanoes in the world until it became dormant only a couple of years ago. It is located nea...

Arenal Volcano had been one of the most active volcanoes in the world until it became dormant only a couple of years ago. It is located near the small town of La Fortuna in Alajuela Province and attracts many visitors every year.

For over five hundred years, Arenal Volcano did not show any activity. Its perfectly shaped cone was covered with thick rainforest, so people started to settle its hills. But on July 23, 1968, the volcano unexpectedly erupted destroying nearby villages. 
The 1968 lava flows are still visible.
Before 1968, people would hike the volcano and stay overnight in its cone. The earth was warm which made it a perfect place to sleep at night. 
Arenal Volcano was active until 2010, and it was quite easy to witness an astonishing light show with lava flows at night. Now the volcano is dormant, but who knows for how long?
Unfortunately, all three days that we stayed in La Fortuna, the volcano was covered with the thick layer of clouds, so we did not see its perfectly conical shape. The volcano is supposed to be at the centre of this picture.
But we really liked the national park near the volcano - Arenal Volcano National Park - and saw there many wild animals including a famous toucan.
There are only a few 'official' hiking trails in the park, and you can easily hike them all in 2-3 hours. I said 'official', because it's not allowed to hike the volcano's cone due to the risk of eruption, however the old trail is there, so I guess some people do hike it.
Some parts of the old 1968 lava flows are still poorly covered with trees.
Thanks to a group of people led by a guide, we spotted this beautiful colorful chestnut-mandibled toucan! It's one of six species living in Costa Rica, and apparently the most frequently seen one.
These toucans are generally big fruit-eaters, but can also take insects, lizards and frogs.
The rainforest is truly spectacular with a huge variety of tropical plants.
One of the main attractions in the park is a huge Ceiba Tree, 131 ft (40 m) high and at least 15 ft (5 m) in diameter.
It's the biggest tree I've ever seen so far! It's also very old (over 400 years) and survived the 1968 eruption.
One of the main branches with hanging lianas.
At the end of the 'official' hiking trail, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Arenal Lake and nearby mountains.  
It is the largest lake in Costa Rica after its expansion in 1979 by a construction of the Arenal dam.
Basilisk Lizard and a venomous Eyelash Viper.
Arenal Volcano should definitely be in your list of places to visit in Costa Rica. With hiking in the national park, bathing in natural hot springs and other activities, you can easily spend a couple of days in La Fortuna area.
If you like Costa Rican wildlife, don't miss the next post - it's going to be from La Paz Waterfalls Gardens.

My other posts from Costa Rica:
Pure Life in Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park - A Paradise on the Pacific Coast
Poás Volcano National Park
Scarlet Macaws in Carara National Park
2-in-1: Zoo and Nature Park in Costa Rica
Tenorio Volcano and Celeste River
Monteverde Cloud Forest
Tortuga Island - More Than Just A Tropical Beach

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