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Northern Lowlands: Arenal

Located in Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, 90km northwest of the capital San Jose,  stands the world famous Arenal Volcano.  Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until 2010, and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world. It has been studied by seismologists for many years. Although the activity nowadays is less damaging, you can still see ash columns and hear underground rumbling.  Arenal today has entered into an indeterminate resting phase though it is still a sight to be seen, measuring at 1,633 meters (5,358 ft) with a conically shaped crater spanning 140 metres (460 ft).  Beyond the volcano, the Arenal area is now considered the adventure capitol of Costa Rica.  There are mountains to be hiked, lakes to be fished, rivers to run and world famous volcano hot spring spas to relax at. As one of the country’s most scenic and accessible areas, it is a requisite stop on any tour of Costa Rica.

Activities Arenal

Arenal National Park: Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal contains a great wealth of geologic and biological complexity and will present us with the closest views of the volcano and its current eruption activity. Naturalists will guide us along trails passing through young secondary forest and old lava fields from previous large eruptions.

Cerro Chato Volcano Hike:  For those who are looking for a physically demanding hike, the Cerro Chato Volcano (dormant for the past 3,500 years) is the perfect choice. Experience the changes from rainforest to cloud forest while climbing the peak, to 3,700 ft.  As we hike to the summit of Cerro Chato we cross a primary rainforest then from the summit we walk down to the green lagoon, an old volcano-crater, where we can swim, and discover its natural surroundings.  Next another short climb we stop at the Arenal Volcano lookout point for another up-close perspective of the Volcano from the summit of Cerro Chato.  Our descent hike down through the rainforest we discover birds and other wild animals along the way, hiking under huge trees and exotic.  To finish this exciting tour we visit the La Fortuna Waterfall.   Surrounded by beautiful scenery and a refreshing bath in the waterfalls natural pool rewards our effort.

Hot Springs & Spas

Tabacon: Tabacon Grand Spa offers the unique combination of the energy of the active Arenal Volcano, the heat of the Tabacon Hot Springs and the purity and mystic of the surrounding rainforest blend into what many have described as “paradise”.  Ranked as a world’s top ten eco-spa by National Geographic Magazine and mentioned by Modern Bride magazine as a must-include visit during a Costa Rica Honeymoon, ranked as a top 5 worldwide honeymoon destination.  Overnight at the hotel or spend the day enjoying the hot spring resort and spa. The Tabacon experience at the Arenal Volcano centers on the hot thermal springs, pools and the Grand Spa. The main sunbathing and swimming area features five pools with temperatures ranging from 25 to 38 degrees C (77 to 102 F), the main one with a swim-up bar and thermal water slide. The pools on the lower section offer a more secluded ambiance with spectacular volcano and rainforest views.  Pools are strategically located along the walking trails of the gardens and provide a nice relaxing break from the explorations of the flowers and plants, and the surprisingly regular wildlife sightings.  Swimming in the hot thermal springs of Tabacon goes well beyond the pools. There are three cascading thermal waterfalls that are guest favorites, providing relaxation and natural hydrotherapy for sore or tight back and neck muscles. The inviting gardens at Tabacon hot springs resort offer numerous larger and smaller in-river pools with varying temperatures as well. The natural thermal and cold natural pools at Tabacon are unique in the Arenal Volcano region and unparalleled in the world.

Baldi Hot Springs: An alternative to Tabacon is the Baldi Hot Springs Resort Hotel & Spa is a family oriented resort located at the foot of the Arenal Volcano.  The resort features 25 natural mineral hot spring pure water pools, with 12 different temperatures ranging from 93 to 152 degrees, exuberant waterfalls and tropical gardens. The Baldi Aqua-Spa interweaves a unique Hot Mineral Springs location with its treatments and therapies, including: Volcanic Mud Wraps, Exfoliations, Massages, Body Treatments and much more. 

Canopy Tours:

Sky Trek: For the ultimate adrenaline rush, try Sky Trek. You will ride an open-air gondola through the rainforest from ground level to the highest point where you'll be dropped off at an observation deck for fantastic views of the volcano and land below. From the observation deck, return to ground level by zipping along nearly two miles (three kilometers) of cables across canyons and between treetops.  Experience the rain forest below you including incredible panoramic view of the volcano and Lake Arenal from a whole new perspective.

Eco Glide: This canopy consists of 15 cables and 18 platforms which are divided into three sections within the rainforest, which are designed to provide participants up close contact with their natural surroundings.  On this tour experience the “Tarzan Swing”, as you fly thru the trees like Tarzan.  This tour is perfect for families with kids and not only offers you a great adventure but also an opportunity to observe all the animal life in its natural habitat. Each platform has been designed so that you can observe the forest from different angles allowing you to photograph the impressing scenery.

Hanging Bridges: The Arenal Hanging Bridges are a complex of trails and bridges through the rain forest. The main goals are the observation of nature and its protection. This private nature reserve of almost 250 hectares of tropical rain forest houses a high local diversity of animal and plant species.  There are 16 bridges in total. Ten of them are regular or static bridges and vary in length from eight to 22 meters. Six are hanging or suspension bridges and are 48 to 98 meters long. Naturalist guides will take you through this private nature reserve and introduce you to its rich biodiversity. During the walk you will learn more about the fauna and flora of the area as your guide will share their knowledge with you and show you all kinds of species from tiny insects and frogs to snakes, birds and if you’re lucky, the peculiar Ocelot. This walk is a fun and educative option to learn more about the forest and the local environment and enjoy the close contact with nature. The trail makes a loop with a total length of 3100 meters within the mountainous area. Along these three kilometers of trails you will be immersed in the divers fauna and flora of the rainforest and admire exotic animals, colorful birds and tropical plant species.

La Fortuna Waterfalls: Located just 6 km outside the town of La Fortuna, this stunning waterfall provides visitors with a wonderful place to swim and relax. Situated at the base of the dormant Cerro Chato volcano amidst a thriving rain forest, the location for this stunning waterfall couldn't get any better. 

Arenal Lake Kayak: Enjoy a pleasant journey of kayaking on Lake Arenal.  Paddle leisurely along the shoreline enjoying the scenery, drop a fishing line in, or put some effort into it for a good workout. You are encouraged to enjoy this beautiful lake in your own way, see howler monkeys along the shore, observe over 400 species of birds, catch one of 10 species of fish, explore coves, lagoons, and river outlets and experience incredible views of the volcano.

Rio Celeste Adventure:  Spend the day exploring with naturalists the natural wonders of the Rio Celeste. Arriving at the Tenorio Volcano National Park we begin our adventure with a hike through the tropical rain forest. Arriving at “Los Teñideros” of the Rio Celeste, here two streams of crystalline water come together and form the color blue that gives the river its name.  We continue on to the natural hot springs located on the rivers edge and finally to the Rio Celeste waterfall, the perfect place to swim, sit back and relax after a day of hiking

White Water Rafting:  Some of the best rafting in Costa Rica can be found in the Arenal region.  Here the crystal waters in the prestigious Sarapiqui river, in the middle of a lush tropical jungle canyon is a rafters dream come true. We splash through 22 kilometers (14 miles) of technical Class III-IV rapids, pushing our adrenaline to its limit.  

Waterfall Rappelling:  Considered one of the best adventures in the area, Pure Trek’s canyoning tour affords travelers the opportunity to explore some of Costa Rica’s most fantastic waterfalls. With trained, bilingual guides on hand, tour takers will rappel down the center of several gushing falls—you’ll get wet, but it’s an experience that you will never forget.

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge Boat Adventure:  Take a leisurely riverboat cruise down the famous Cano Negro River.  Set near the Nicaraguan border in a marshy, jungle-like area, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is one of the most difficult places to independently visit in Costa Rica. It is set in a remote area of the country and is often submerged in water from flooded rivers. The scenery is spectacular and the highlight is the wide range of migratory birds. Here you'll find several species of plants and animals not found anywhere else in the country. Many are unique or endangered. This Costa Rica ecological treasure supports some 350 species of birds, including Glossy Ibis, Anhinga, Wood Stork, Ibis Blanco, Gavilan Caracolero. One of the most beautiful is the Jaribu (large and endangered). It definitely is a bird watcher's paradise.  By riverboat with naturalist guides we search out the local flora and fauna. Additional area wildlife includes sloths, iguanas, caimans, monkeys and many more.

Monteverde Day Expedition – Boat & Jeep Adventure: While based at Arenal you will be able to explore the wonders of the cloud forests at Monteverde!  This day tour between Monteverde and Arenal by jeep and boat is packed with adventure and the quickest way to travel between the two points. Tour begins with a half hour boat ride across Lake Arenal with spectacular views of the volcano looming beside you. On the other side a jeep awaits you for a climb through the mountains up to Monteverde. The trip takes 2.5 hours versus 5 to 6 hours by van via standard road routes.  Once you arrive in Monteverde your naturalists will take on a guided exploration through the wonders of the cloud forests.  Late afternoon return to Monteverde via jeep and boat.  Route can also be done in reverse with a day visit to Arenal if based in Monteverde.

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