Volcan Arenal

Travel back in time (a few months, eek!) to when my parents were here. Our first stop (after base/SJ/Cartago) was Volcan Arenal.

Until 2010, it was the most active volcano in Costa Rica. This also makes it one of the most famous volcanoes in CR. While it is no longer actively erupting, it’s definitely a sight to see!

We spent most of our 3 days at Arenal lounging by the pool getting a tan. We were very successful and did not turn into the bright red tourists most commonly found throughout the country. The views from anywhere on the property were incredible. For the first day the weather was a little cloudy and we were concerned we wouldn’t get a full view of the volcano. It is known to be a “shy volcano” and hide behind the clouds. The weather ended up being beautiful as our trip went on!

View from one of the pools.

View from one of the pools.

We took a flat water rafting trip on the Penas Blancas river. Our guide was great and very funny! He gave me a hard time for my lack of Spanish skills, but I’ll forgive him for that. (Surprisingly, my dad is actually quite the Spanish-speaker. Go figure!) As we were driving through the towns to reach the river, I mentioned “there’s a sloth on that fence.” They didn’t believe me (said it’s probably a chicken) but turned around the van and headed back. Sure enough… there was a sloth climbing along the fence of a house. We got within just a foot or two of it! From then on we had a contest about who could spot the most sloths. I think we tied in the end.

We saw 4 (at least) sloths, a red-eared slider that was very brave, many monkeys, and tons of tropical birds. We then ended at a local farm for some tico cheese and plantains. It was a really nice and peaceful way to see a ton of wildlife.

Sunset. I wish I could capture how beautiful it really was.

Sunset. I wish I could capture how beautiful it really was.

One night we headed down to local hot springs. There are several big and famous ones (all fed by underground streams heated by the volcano), but we chose a less known one. It was perfect! There were maybe 20 other people there the whole time. We lounged in the different pools of various temperatures and got a massage from their waterfalls. It was very relaxing and is supposed to be very healing.

Finally we headed into La Fortuna (the local town) for a nice walk around. Then all that was left was to prepare for our transfer to Monteverde. That was an adventure in itself…

View from our hotel room.

View from our hotel room.


3 thoughts on “Volcan Arenal

  1. eventer79

    OMG OMG OMG OMG! I followed your link from COTH and I am sitting here half-crying, half-laughing.

    Now before you totally write me off as a crazy person…

    In 1997, I took a trip that changed me forever. It was my high school graduation present. An Outward Bound 2-week course in Costa Rica.


    I know Orlando! I slept on his porch and drank his wife’s fresh chocolate milk. I watched his young kids chase the pig with a machete, LOL. I listened to his story (translated because my Spanish is abysmal) of people in the rainforest being buried beneath the ceibo trees because they believe the giant trunks carry their spirits to the sky. Orlando was one of our wonderful teachers on our 10-day backback. I got horribly sick in the beginning, I had the heaviest pack in our group ( a bunch of girls from my school who were mostly obnoxious, but three of us were friends and tried to stand apart), no sleeping bag, and I spent two days slogging at the back, but I finally caught up, made my surge, and by the time we got to Orlando’s, I was renewed!

    I did my first rock-climbing ever on that waterfall (loved it so much, I took it up in college and grad school) — one girl in our group got her arm sliced open by a falling rock because someone didn’t yell “ROCK!” (don’t forget to teach people that, LOL, she got a really deep cut, passed out, couldn’t paddle on the rafting part)

    Our other main instructor was Say — is he still there? Fantastic, hilarious guy, but I’d be surprised if he is, he had a lot of different jobs, he was about 30 then, probably moved on by now, but he was from Costa Rica as well. Then we had an American named Mike, but I’m pretty sure he returned to the states and got married after we left.

    Mike saved my life on the river — we were rafting with him and Say and our river guide, another American river rat named Justus, and I was knocked out of the raft (we bounced off a rock) and run over and pinned to the bottom of the river because it was so shallow. I thought I was going to drown there, but the raft cheese gratered me to a deeper spot and I finally popped out and Mike dragged me in over the side of the boat. NEVER RAFT WITHOUT A HELMET AND LIFE JACKET! They saved my life as well because I landed on my head on a rock when I fell out of the boat, it was a teeeeny tiny ripple, I actually had had my helmet unbuckled and went, meh, might as well buckle it, but it’s hardly worth it, this is practically smooth water just before. It cranked up my knee and scraped up my shoulder, I hopped and limped around on one leg when we got back to San Jose shortly after. That knee is still a little wonky, but I never did see anyone about it, it does ok, a souvenir, haha.

    I fell in love with Costa Rica in two weeks and I sobbed on the airplane as we took off. So many great stories — you must email me!! I will be following this blog intently, don’t stop writing! Such a small, small world it is! I cannot BELIEVE finding this, 16 years later, wow.

    1. kirbirogers Post author

      What a small world! How neat hearing all your stories! (And a little scary, too.) Orlando is the only one still here but I will have to ask Danny, our Programming Director, if he remembers them. I’m sure I’ll get some fun stories!

      Thanks so much for sharing! In my job I love hearing from OBCR alumni! It’s great to remember what a long history we have!


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