This weekend, I again was amazed by the biological beauty Costa Rica has to offer when I travelled to Arenal Volcano. Arenal had been one of the world’s most active volcanos for many years, spewing volcanic ash and debris into the atmosphere on a regular basis. This was especially apparent and problematic in 1968, when the volcano erupted unexpectedly, destroying the town of Tabacon lying at its base. Since then, the volcano has not erupted and entered a state of rest in 2010. At the base of the volcano, hundreds of tourists enjoy the waterslides and thermal pools in their 5 star resorts, Arenal ominously always in view.

 Surrounding the volcano is an area of dense biological diversity and wildlife. The forests on the volcano are home to hundreds of different animals. Among them, are the endangered Resplendent Quetzal, vibrant colored frogs, dense vegetation and sloths. A few people from my group and I booked a guided hike tour of the Arenal National Park. The tour guide was a wealth of knowledge. A biochemist himself, he was never at a loss when it came it our persistent questioning. He spoke in Spanish the entire time, and I was amazed at how much I was able to understand. I was hanging off every word. Tip: if you understand spoken Spanish well, ask for the tour guide to speak his native tongue. You will get so much more out of the experience.

The tour guide then brought us to the hot springs. The water flowing from the volcano was heated to a warm 95 degrees Fahrenheit. There were no pumps, no heaters, no electricity. This water was heated 100% naturally by Arenal Volcano. Sitting in the hot spring pools looking up at the volcano, the experience seemed surreal. I was swimming in a volcanic river, thousands of miles away from home in New York, sunburned, in February. I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity for such exciting and new experiences.

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