Volcán Poás, Costa Rica – Huge crater in action

67 volcanoes with 112 craters are situated in tiny Costa Rica, among them seven active ones. It suggests itself to visit some of them, and the more they bubble, smoke, or spit the better it is. Volcán Poás is one of the active ones. It is easily accessible and therefore the country’s most visited volcanoes. At 8 a.m. we are waiting in front of the entrance gate to open since at around 10 a.m. clouds move in and obstruct the view, especially in rainy season. A loop trail with 3.5 km / 2 mi length leads from the visitor centre at 2250 m elevation to the crater at 2708 m and down again, to the main crater, through magic forest to the lagoon of a side crater, and back through cloud forest.

Poás’ main crater with its 1.5 km diameter and 300 m depth is regarded as the earth’s second largest crater. In the middle of the imposing hole with barren black, red, beige and brown walls is the 40° C / 110° F hot crater lake that has an unhealthy glaucous colour. From some fumaroles on one side violent snow-white sulphur-clouds arise, which the wind fortunately blows away from us. Poás is weird and wonderful. Laguna Botos in the side crater is shallow, cool and is fed only by rainwater. Its emerald green water appeals much more to me. The trails are paved or gravelled and easy to walk. With stops for taking photos and visit of the volcano museum in the visitor centre two hours are reasonable. Entrance fee for everything is 10 US$ plus parking fee (depending on vehicle size, Unimog 2500 Colón).

Next volcano to visit tomorrow is Irazú where we find another kind restaurant owner who let us park there. But Nochbuena in 2900 m / nearly 9000 ft elevation is not only a restaurant, they have hiking trails and an incredibly well-done museum as well. It is absolutely worth the 4 $ / 2000 CRC pp. The exhibition about volcanoes in general and especially the Irazú is created with love and expert knowledge. The 10 min video (Spanish with English or German subtitles) shows spectacular shootings of Irazu’s eruptions. In 1963 Irazú intensely spit ashes for two years, killed the livestock, destroyed the agriculture and brought the country to a standstill. But Costa Rica’s today’s fertility origins in those eruptions. Momentarily Irazú remains quiet.

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