When we left the gorgeous beach of Playa Flamingo, our destination was Montana de Fuego resort at the foot of Costa Rica’s most active volcano. After laying dormant for hundreds of years, Mount Arenal suddenly erupted in July of 1968 wiping out the nearby village of Tabacon and killing nearly all of it’s 80 inhabitants. Since that time, frequent powerful explosions have continued to send cascades of red-hot lava down the volcano’s steep slopes.
Our guidebook warned us that Arenal borders a region of cloud forests and rainforests and that the volcano’s cone is often socked in by clouds and fog. We were prepared for the fact that we, like many visitors, might not actually get to see it. Imagine our delight when we spotted it from afar long before we actually reached our destination!
We continued to enjoy amazing views of the mountain as we rounded Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s largest lake and the second largest in Central America. Though it may not be clear in the photo, from this viewpoint we could actually see smoke rising from the lava flows.
When we reached our destination, we settled into our cute little cabin where we enjoyed views of the volcano from our glass enclosed front porch. Every morning when we got up, it was shrouded in cloud but as the morning wore on, the mist rose and left most of the cone exposed. Unfortunately, cloud settled over it again each evening so we didn’t see it at night when it would have been most spectacular. Apparently on a clear night, the sky over Arenal turns red as glowing lava spews from the crater and red-hot rocks tumble down it’s flanks.
Arenal stands like a sentry over the small town of La Fortuna. Once only a tiny farming community, it has become a magnet for volcano watchers, adventure tourists and travellers from around the world. We enjoyed trying out a few of the town’s many restaurants and relaxing in it’s central plaza, a wonderful spot for people watching as well as volcano viewing!