How Close Can a Tourist Get to the Arenal Volcano?
Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular highlights of Costa Rica. There are many trails at this volcano’s base that lead to the nearest safe observation point. That point is basically the boundary of the high-risk danger zone. Depending on the geographical features, the zone varies in distance to the volcano. The average is between 1-2 kilometers. Tourists can hike as far as the perimeter of the high-risk danger zone.
Before you arrive at this point, there are many trails that wind around the Arenal Volcano National Park. These areas are generally safe, however no new construction is permitted. Still, the areas are monitored in case the volcano becomes more active.
The following are the top trails to hike around Arenal Volcano:
The main lookout path is basically a sandy road. It takes you through pastured and forested areas to a viewpoint where you can see the lava flows remains. Viewing is limited to 20 minutes. Although the main lookout is a famous option for walking, you can also access the road to it via car or on an Arenal Volcano hike tour.
Las Coladas is one of the best hiking trails in Arenal that allows you to get up close and personal with the iconic volcano. It is a sandy trail that starts at the ranger station and passes through diverse vegetation with great views of the Tilarán Mountain Range. Las Coladas trail ends at the base of the volcano. There, you can walk over the old lava fields of the volcano. For safety, viewing is limited to 20 minutes. You can take a look around the old lava fields for lizards, orchids, and other habitants in this hotspot.
From the park headquarters, the Los Miradores trail roams along the peninsula giving spectacular panoramas of both Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano. Passing through the rainforest, the trail ultimately leads to the Lake Arenal’s shores. Opportunities to spot mammals and birds can also be especially good on Los Miradores trail as it navigates between the lake and volcanic ecosystems.
Los Heliconias is another trail that offers an excellent initial experience to the hiking around Arenal Volcano National Park. It is a narrow trail that leads you to the Las Coladas trail that connects with it and allows you to take a closer look at the Arenal Volcano. The path of Los Heliconias navigates through newer, lush vegetation. You get to view butterflies, orchids, and several bird species such as oropendola, magpie-jays, and hummingbirds. For an extension, the Los Heliconias trail crosses with the Main Lookout path as well.
The opportunity to explore the terrain and ecosystems of the Arenal Volcanic region is an unforgettable experience. Although, you cannot get too close to the volcano, the trails mentioned above provide you several opportunities to enjoy not only the hikes around the Arenal Volcano National Park, but also one of the most dramatic landscapes of Costa Rica.