Costa Rica road trip: Arenal Volcano Region
The volcano was inactive for more than 400 years. In 1968 it violently erupted, killing 87 people and destroying 3 small villages. From 1968 until 2010 the volcano remained active, drawing many visitors to view the spectacle. From 2010 until now, Arenal Volcano has been resting, reducing the amount of visitors to the site.
Convinced that the region still had much to offer, my husband and I continued our Costa Rica road trip and made our way up route 142 toward Lake Arenal. The lake covers approximately 33 sq miles with a depth of 100 – 200 feet. With absolutely spectacular views, it lists with me as one of the top 10 most beautiful sites I have ever seen.
At the point where this photo was taken two climate zones collide. Intense 50 mph winds nearly knocked me over while I attempted to capture the vast scene. We could hear the hallow roar of hurricane strength winds from the car.
Continuing to wind slowly up the mountain and around the lake we passed at least two more climate zones with different ecosystems. Ranches and farms intermixed with dense jungle foliage. At two places the road had been washed out by the rains.
We happened upon a group of coiti. (We called them road monkeys.) They busily foraged as I took their picture while the car was still moving. Don’t feed the coiti signs alongside the road told me they are a common sight here. I never knew these little guys existed.
Arriving at our destination just before sunset, I ran around the grounds of Arenal Paraiso Resort taking pictures. The sights were so fabulous, so lush, so surreal. Little did I know that this was the last opportunity I would have to capture these images.
The next morning the rain began. Rain…downpour…deluge…rain…repeat…for days. Most of the time clouds cover the top of the volcano, but now we were covered in thick cloud ourselves. Did the sun disappear a week ago and we didn’t know it? I know this is a rain forest, but this much rain?? Extremely oppressive, it felt as if we were being lowered down on the food chain and soon the jungle would pick us off.
Searching for comfort we sought out a coffee house in La Fortuna.
Down to Earth Coffee came as a welcome respite. “Do you want my suggestion?” asked Matias. We took his advise and ordered his coffee banana shake and a cortado.
I slurped down the shake like there was no tomorrow. Keith savored the cortado. He wanted something with a kick, 4 days later he still felt the buzz.
Matias is the Master Yoda of coffee. He owns the Down to Earth coffee plantation in Costa Rica. His coffee is the most expensive in the country, rightfully so. (At $15 a pound, I felt it was a reasonable price.) It is unmistakably gourmet coffee. Grown at an altitude of 4700 to 6000 feet, the climate produces what is know as Strictly Hard Bean coffee (SHB). The Dota Tarrazu Valley produces coffee that has been certified over and over as the best in the world. Read more about Down to Earth Coffee on their website. You’ll want to join their coffee club. Proceeds from coffee sales benefit 4 different Costa Rican foundations.
We said our goodbyes to Master Matias feeling fully satisfied we had experienced the Arenal Volcano area to the best of our abilities.
On the way back down the mountain an additional road had been washed out. Grasses on the steep hills alongside the road were completely flattened by rain.
We wanted just one more day in the sun. Coco Beach fit the bill. It was the perfect end to our Costa Rica road trip.
For more on Coco Beach read my post ‘The Ultimate Road Trip: Costa Rica’s North Coast.’