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Arenal Volcano National Park Trips
Dominated by the conical cone of the volcano, Arenal National Park covers an expanse of 12,124 ha. Upgraded from a reserve to a national park in 1994, the park protects the valuable watershed that maintains water levels in Lake Arenal and the microclimate created by the volcano.
Trips to see the lava flows and eruptions of Arenal Volcano, when active, are always popular. While there are variations on a theme, most leave in the late afternoon to get you to the best viewing spot for dusk. As darkness cloaks the region, the barely visible dust plumes that skirted down the bare slopes through the day reveal themselves to be glowing lava tumbling, crashing and smashing down the volcano slopes in a spray of natural fireworks. When the volcano is active and the night is clear the sight is spectacular and the sound decidedly eerie in the dark of night.
Arenal was a sleeping giant until 1968 when a massive eruption devastated the western flank of the volcano killing 78 people. Since 1968 Arenal has been erupting almost continuously. A major eruption in August 2000 resulted in the death of two people who, allegedly, went beyond the advised limits. In September 2003, part of the wall of one of the active craters collapsed sending four pyroclastic avalanches down the north- west face. The National Park was evacuated for three hours as a precaution. Viewing the volcano is considered safe; however, the greater extent of lava flows has seen a more cautious approach to volcano viewing put in place. After viewing the volcano, groups usually head down to one of the nearby thermal baths for a relaxing soak before returning to Fortuna.
Beyond the volcano the park has five interesting walking trailsstarting at the national park entrance. The trails range from 25 minutes to a couple of hours in length and provide good opportunities to see heliconias, birdlife and howler monkeys.