Poas Volcano National Park is located in the central valley of Costa Rica– approx eighteen miles north of the city of Alajuela (where the San Jose International Airport is located.) Poas Volcano’s elevation is 8,000 feet above sea level thus the air is cool and moist. The volcano is an active geyser in that the one mile wide crater is a smoldering pool of steam and sulphur gases producing acid rain and the smell of rotten eggs. It is best to arrive as early as possible-park opens at 7:30 am-because clouds tend to cover the crater as the day progresses. Although the constant winds will often blow the clouds away. Just stick around for awhile and you might see the crater. The volcano does not often have violent eruptions and the most a visitor will probably see is spurts of steam and hot water coming from the crater. A visitors area is fenced off with a spectacular view of the crater and surrounding fumaroles which are miniature geysers coming from deep holes in the earth surrounding the mile wide crater.
The Poas Volcano National Park protects thirteen thousand acres of highland rain forest. It’s unique highland Ecosystem is a wonderland of tropical vegetation-moses, bromeliads, and ferns. The most famous is the giant umbrella plant. Walking trails are well marked so one can get a very good forty five minute work out hiking up to the old extinct crater lake. Plus a second hiking trail carved out thru the highland rain forest which takes about twenty minutes.
OUR DAY TRIP TO POAS VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK.
Our adventure began on a cool December morning when the skies were clear and the sun’s tropical warming was a delight. Our car trip to the entrance to the park took around thirty minutes from Hotel Buena Vista, a small mountain hotel, located on the road leading from Alajuela to the park. We passed spectacular beauty of verdant green coffee fields and black and white spotted dairy cows grazing along the mountain side.
We wanted to see the crater before the clouds closed in so we entered the park at 7:30 am. Hiking up to the crater took about ten minutes and behold we could see the mile wide geyser sputtering up puffs of smoke and hot water. Since we were out for a good work out, we climbed the -not so hard to climb steps- up to the old crater lake with its crystal blue water sparkling in the sunlight. The hike up and back took about forty five minutes. Back at the visitors center we visited the small interpretive display of the history of the volcano. Hungry and thirsty we ventured into the coffee shop and experienced the most fabulous cup of freshly ground Costa Rica coffee along with a piece of homemade strawberry short cake made from fresh strawberries grown on the slopes of the Poas.
The gift shop is filled with locally made arts and crafts. A group of local artist were around to talk to us about their work. I purchased one of the oils-very colorful bromeliads, umbrella plants, and ferns- painted in bright colors of yellow, orange, and green.
Lunch was down the mountain a bit at Fredda Fresas, a small family owned restaurant with typical Costa Rican food such as rice and black beans, fried plantains, yucca, cabbage salad, sauteed chicken in garlic sauce, and desert was a delicious home made flan (egg custard) topped of with a great cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee.
What a wonderful day! Back at Xinia and Ann’s Costa Rica Vacation Homestay B&B for real Costa Rican hospitality
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