Costa Rica’s Treasure-It’s National Parks
Costa Rica’s people values it’s national treasures so much that 20% of it’s land has been set aside for National Parks and Wildlife Preserves, protecting and preserving them for vacationers to enjoy some of the most beautiful tropical scenery in Central America.
Located in the central valley sixty eight miles north the capital city of San Jose we find the Poas Volcano National Park. Rising eight thousand feet above sea level with it’s southern slope covered in vibrant green colored bushes known as coffee. It is the most visited national park with over 200,000 people from all over the world visiting annually. Poas’ crater is one mile wide and easily viewed from a look out point on it’s south face. The gurgling steaming sulfuric blue waters inside the crater often spray upward forming a beautiful geyser-exactly what the visitors come to see! It’s last major eruption was in 1952. However, frequently small eruptions occur shooting steam and gasses into the air. There is good hiking and the best is a thirty minute hike up to Botos Lake (the old crater) which is very beautiful with cold green water. You hike a well maintained trail through giant umbrella plants and small dense alpine forest. The weather is cool, damp, and foggy giving one a mystical feeling.
Plan to spend at least half a day here. There is a visitor’s center with a small natural history museum, a great gift shop, and the BEST coffee shop serving Costa Rican coffee grown here on the slopes of the volcano. Try to arrive early in the morning to get the best views. Sometimes by late morning clouds move in and cover the crater.
What is unique about Poas Volcano National Park for visitors to see? It is the only active volcano in Costa Rica . Vacationers can view from a look out point above the crater the steaming fumaroles and quite often a big burst of steam rising from it’s hot blue pool of sulphurous water. and gases. In May 1989 Poas shot ash and hot steam one mile into the air.
Can I hike in Poas Volcano National Park? Yes, the are two well maintained trails for hiking and you can see a rainforest here. The trees are not very tall because it is windy at eight thousand feet above sea level. Many wild flowers grow in the park and a great variety of moses, bromeliads, and ferns. The giant umbrella tree is the most famous plant in the park (pictured above). Several varieties of hummingbirds can be seen and will buzz around you as you walk through this vivid landscape.
Xinia and I spent one morning in the park. We left Alajuela around 7:45 am and arrived at 8:15 am to the park. We got a great view of the crater with its deep blue steaming water because the clouds had not yet covered it. Cold and damp weather welcomed us and we were glad we had our raincoats and comfortable tennis shoes. We hiked both trails and were quite tired so we descended and decided to stop at Fredda Fressas for lunch. Located on the main road heading down, Fredda Fressas offers a typical Costa Rica Lunch. We choose the Casada which is the most typical. It is rice, black beans, cabbage slaw, piccadilla de pappas (potatoes finely chopped with sweet red peppers boiled with a little Salsa Lizano added). Fresh strawberries in leche (milk) was our drink. And three milk cake (tres leches) was our choice of desert. Everything was delicious.
I highly recommend Poas Volcano National Park if you are vacationing in the central valley of San Jose and Alajuela. It is a great day trip. The road is good all the way to the summit. Coffee Plantations line the hillsides and are spectacularly beautiful.
The Park is open all year round. Take a raincoat and comfortable shoes.
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