While driving from Alajuela to Arenal in Costa Rica, we decided to make pit stops at Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfalls. Not wanting to drive the treacherous Costa Rican roads, we made advance online reservations for a taxi.
That morning, we woke up early, had our breakfast in the hotel (the owner prepared breakfast for us) and started from Alajuela at 7.30am. One thing I noticed throughout Costa Rica was how amicable people are. We happily indulged in their hospitality throughout our vacation.
The taxi driver was very cordial and professional; all the way he educated us about the rich Costa Rican vegetation, weather, volcanoes and wildlife. He was kind enough to stop in a few places to let us take pictures of the green landscapes and dormant volcanoes afar. He even spotted a sloth on a branch high up in the tree and stopped, so we could take pictures. “Poor man’s umbrellas” are a common sight; the higher the elevation, the larger the leaves grow.
Though the rest of Costa Rica may be warm or scorching hot, Poas volcano is on an elevation and is nippy throughout the year. Make sure you always carry a jacket when you are up there! I read that it normally gets clouded later in the day, so the best time to visit was in the mornings when the park opens at 8.00am.
When we reached the Poas volcano parking lot a little past 8am, it was drizzling and clouds were rolling in. A 15-min walk from the parking lot took us to one of the most active volcanoes in the world. I was instantly flabbergasted when I saw the crater and the active fumarole activity in the crater. This was the first time I saw a crater under my nose. I have seen the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, but that was from a distance.
Luckily, the clouds cleared away soon and I was able to get a better view of the Poas crater and the deep green colored sulphuric pool in it. I just enjoyed seeing the fumaroles actively come out of the crater and moving in the direction of the wind. For obvious reasons, there is no vegetation or wildlife anywhere close to the crater. A massive portion of the surrounding area was barren.
Then we took the Botos trail to see the Botos Lake, which is another crater filled with rainwater. While walking on the marginally elevated Botos trail, we noticed three young people in wheelchairs laboriously trying to wheel their way up and one of their friends helping to push the wheelchairs. Parts of the trail had steps and it was nearly impossible for them to go any further. We helped them through the steps. A couple of visitors also stopped to help. Finally when we reached the Botos Lake, their friend mentioned that it was their Christmas gift to see the Poas Volcano and the Botos Lake. Wow, that was touching. And we were glad we played a minuscule part in getting their Christmas gift.
The climb was worth it, because the green color Botos lake with greenery all around the lake was absolutely beautiful! There is no marine life in the lake because of the acidity in the crater.
We enjoyed looking at the peaceful lake and continued our way on the trail to reach the parking lot. The visitor center carries souvenirs, but they were super-pricey; so we didn’t buy anything and continued our way to La Paz Waterfalls.
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