Arenal Volcano Costa Rica
Update January 10, 2012
I hear from friends who live in La Fortuna, at the base of Arenal Volcano, that scientists have now declared Arenal to be dormant. No longer does volcano Arenal spew forth volcanic material on a near daily basis as it has done the nearly 40 years. Most in the tourism industry doubt that this will change tourism to the area as there are so many activities that tourists will contnue to come for years to come. There are now so many nice hotels and spas in La Fortuna that it would be a catastrophe if tourism slowed down. While it's still too early to tell I will keep you posted.
Arenal volcano was the most active volcano in Costa Rica. Hotels near Volcano Arenal sell their views of the lava and red hot boulders glowing in the darkness. Although eruptions are the main attraction, you should be aware that even in the dry season the clouds usually obscure the top of the volcano, and your chances of seeing a pyroclastic display are lessened in the rainy season. Volcano watching is a gamble, but plenty of other attractions draw tourists to La Fortuna and Lake Arenal, so consider it a bonus if you see Volcano Arenal put on a huge noisy and colorful display.
The town of Nuevo Arenal is about 20 kilometers northwest of the volcano sitting on the edge of the lake, and is a retirement center for expats. Often tourists will say they spent a few days in Arenal, when in reality they were in La Fortuna. For some reason the La Fortuna tourist marketing people use the words Arenal more then the name of their town when fishing for customers.
The perfect cone is visible for many miles, but if you want a good view of an eruption, your best bet is to stay in one of the "observatory" type lodges, and stay up late or get up with the sun. The clouds tend to move in and obscure the cone in the early morning hours.
Arenal Volcano National Park covers 12016 hectares. Elevations range from 1000 to 1657 meters.
Volcán Arenal had its largest eruption in modern times in 1968, blasting lava and molten boulders from three separate craters to form a new crater, knocking 50 meters off the top, and destroying the villages of Tabacón and Pueblo Nuevo killing all of the inhabitants. Since then Arenal Volcano has had continuous activity, and large eruptions continue every other year or so.
Before setting out to visit the Arenal Volcano please do some research and determine if the old girl is still active or asleep. While you can go white water rafting, horseback riding, dancing and eating in La Fortuna, without the eruptions you will miss much of the magic.