Visit Costa Rica’s Most Dramatic Landmark & Stay at Famous Arenal Observatory Lodge
Day 1: San Jose / Arenal Observatory Lodge / Hot Springs
Your extension to Arenal Volcano begins as you depart San Jose and travel northwest to Arenal Observatory Lodge. The lodge is set high on a ridge facing the famous volcano, surrounded by thousands of acres of tropical rain forest, which you'll explore on guided walks on an extensive network of private trails from the lodge. Seismologists from the Smithsonian Institution and the National University of Costa Rica closely monitor the volcano from the research station at the lodge. Though the 5,437-foot symmetrical volcano is currently in a dormant phase, the juncture of the two tectonic plates that lie beneath it creates periodic friction, occasionally forcing molten rock up through fissures.
After a 400-year quiet period, Arenal’s most recent eruptive phase began in 1968 with a massive explosion that buried three small villages and covered 5 square miles in lava and ash, leaving 87 people dead. Until 2010, less dramatic eruptions had been constant, with the volcano spewing magma and smoke on an almost daily basis. Since then, however, Arenal's activity has decreased significantly. Though still simmering inside, the volcano is currently "sleeping." But where there is volcanic activity, there is usually geothermal activity, and this afternoon offers an opportunity to relax and enjoy a soak in the nearby hot springs.
Day 2: Danaus Eco-Center / Arenal Hanging Bridges
After breakfast at the lodge, travel to La Fortuna to visit Danaus Eco-Center, a private ecological reserve with programs focused on conservation, environmental education and sustainable production. On a tour of the premises with a local naturalist guide, you'll have a chance to see Costa Rica’s famous red poison dart frogs and other wildlife, walking on nature trails through the project’s 300 species of tropical plants.
This afternoon, take a guided natural history walk over the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a series of suspension bridges overlooking a dense canopy of primary rain forest with views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. One the most striking ecotourism projects in Costa Rica, the bridges range from 16 to 330 feet long and form part of a 2-mile trail that loops through the rain forest. Along the way, you'll find lush vegetation, colorful flowers and both resident and migratory tropical birds.
Day 3: Bird Walk / San Jose / Depart
After an optional early morning bird walk and a final breakfast in the shadow of the volcano, return to San Jose to connect with homeward flights. Please schedule flight departures no earlier than 2:00 pm today.
Physical Rating: Easy