Guest Post from my blogger friend and mutual Costa Rica Lover, Ann Creed, from Costa Rica Learn.
We left Alajuela very early on a July morning on our day trip to Poas Volcano National Park. The drive is superbly scenic as we drove through coffee plantations, and in the month of July the coffee beans are bright green, not turning crimson red for harvest until around the middle to late November.
Soon the coffee fields thin out, replaced by strawberry fields, and black and white spotted Holstein dairy cattle dot the slopes of the lush green pasture land. Finally we arrive at the Park and decide to first take a look inside the visitors center which shows a very good scale model of the Poas, and grab a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee at the small restaurant above the visitors center.
The walk from the visitors center up to the actual crater took around ten minutes, passing giant umbrella plants and pretty yellow and white wildflowers. Then, behold, before our eyes was the mile-wide crater, with turquoise blue gurgling steam.
Occasionally it burped sulfurous mud and sprayed hot steamy water high into the sky. The park ranger told us that Poas Volcano had its last big blowout in 1953. We were very happy we got here early because the clouds started to close in and obstruct the view of the crater. And it’s cool and windy, with a mist in the air.
We wanted to get a little more hiking in, so we started up the Botos Trail which leads to the extinct crater, now filled with jade-colored water. The high-altitude rain forest (8,000 feet above sea level) is home to a dwarf cloud forest, covered with bromeliads, lichens, and mosses. We heard a fluttering of wings and a pair of fiery-throated hummingbirds buzzed by our heads.
Heading back, we stopped at Freda Fresas for lunch. This is a typical family-run Costa Rican restaurant serving everything fresh from the region. Strawberries were picked that morning to make the delicious “fresas in leche” strawberry- milk drink, bread is freshly baked each morning, and the vegetables are grown in Don Emillio’s organic garden.
We ordered the Casado, the typical lunch of Costa Rica plate consisting of rice and black bean, picadillo made of finely chopped chayote and corn, fried plantains, farmers cheese with corn tortillas, and chicken in a tomato sauce. Followed with a desert called “tres leches” three milk cake (very Costa Rican) and a cup of hot Costa Rican cappuccino. What more could one ask for!
I highly recommend a visit to Poas Volcano National park if you are in the central valley of Costa Rica. It’s located only 37 km ( 23 miles) north of Alajuela, with beautiful scenery along the way. Get there early because the clouds tend to close in around 10 a.m. Take a rain jacket and of course your camera. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Guide to Visitors
Entrance fee: $15 for foreign adults and $5 for children ages 2-12
National Park Hours: 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every day
Telephone: (506) 2482-1226 / (506) 2482-1227
IMPORTANT: They only allow a certain number of visitors inside the park every day. So, it is important to make a reservation beforehand.
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