Notes From The Field: Best Volcanoes to Visit on a School Trip to Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a very volcanic country formed by tectonic activity, volcanism and sedimentation. There are a total of 112 volcanoes, including 5 that are considered active in Costa Rica. I have gathered together what in my opinion are the best volcanoes to visit with your school group.

DSC03218Arenal Volcano:  One of the most famous volcanoes on the planet, Arenal was in the top 14 most active volcanoes in the world for 42 years from 1968 (when it started the current active period) until 2010. It is still nowadays, as there haven’t been any eruptions since 2010. During those 42 years of constant activity it was common to see lava rocks falling off the side of the crater all the way down to the base of Arenal.  Arenal is the only conically shaped volcano in Costa Rica, and it is surrounded by tropical rain forest. There are many mineral hot springs to visit in this area where your group can soak in these thermal waters. The best way to get to see this volcano is to visit the Arenal National Park and walk on the impacted lava area from the 1968 eruption.  This gives a beautiful view point which allows your group to appreciate the majesty of this amazing volcano.

Poás Volcano: This volcano is only 20 minutes from the main inDSC06827ternational airport in Costa Rica. The drive to the volcano is beautiful as you will see coffee plantations, cattle pastures, mountains and a beautiful view of the city. Once you enter the National Park, it only takes 15 minutes of a walk to reach the crater, which means as you drive to the park you are already on the volcano! Poás is an active volcano, with a beautiful turquoise lagoon in the crater.  The vegetation on the top is evergreen and usually you can see beautiful flowers on the path to the crater.

Irazú Volcano: This is the highest volcano in Costa Rica, and is located only an hour a half away from down town San José. Irazú is considered an active volcano, and once you enter the park it only takes 10 minutes to walk to one of the two craters that you can see from the top.  One crater is dormant and one is active. After about 20 minutes of walking from the craters you will reach a view point, and on a clear day, you will be able to see Turrialba Volcano (currently the most active volcano in Costa Rica), the Caribbean Sea, and most of the Central Valley. Irazú is a beautiful volcano and a great place to visit with your student group.

mudRincón de la Vieja Volcano: Just like Arenal Volcano, Rincón de la Vieja doesn´t have an easy access to the crater, but this is the volcano where you can appreciate the most secondary activity, such as fumaroles (an opening in or near a volcano, through which hot sulfurous gases emerge) and hot springs. When you visit the park and walk on the most popular trail called Las Pailas, you will be able to see different forms of fumaroles, in mud ponds, rocks and lagoons. Only a mile away from the entrance of the park, there is a Geothermal Plant producing clean and renewable power.

There are about 15000 volcanoes on the planet and 112 in Costa Rica, all of them unique! When you visit Costa Rica with your group of students, take the opportunity to visit any of these volcanoes as they are extremely interesting and beautiful.

Paulo Segura ● Appleseed Expeditions Guide


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