Saturday we drove out to the active Arenal Volcano.  There’s a private attraction in the tropical rain forest out there with a hanging bridges through the forest.  Very cool. Lake Arenal is actually a hydroelectric project and at the end of the lake by near the volcano, there’s a dam just to keep the lake full (one of the valleys needs to keep the dam full, not the hydro part) and you go down under that and then up into the mountain (not the mountain with the volcano, for obvious reasons it’s off limits) up this very well maintained road of brick stamped concrete.  It’s probably about 2km long and there are several attractions along it and a resort hotel.

Admission was $24 per person and the walk also about 2km and takes two to four hours, depending on how many pictures you take and the pace of your walk.  There are also a couple of side paths that make a short cut if you aren’t that adventurous.  They provide you with a map of the path, bridges and noteworthy sites so you can keep track of your progress and what you have to look forward to.  There are six suspension bridges and nine regular bridges along the route.  As we crossed the first suspension bridge, right next to us was the seed pod for either a king or queen palm:

And then we came upon this flower:

And here’s our second suspension (some of these suspension bridge tours are totally canopy-this tour is both airborne and terrestrial):

There’s a ton of these trees that have a  buttress like base, some are VERY dramatic:

We saw many of these brown lizards along the way:

This catarata (waterfall) is a side trip off the main trail and can also be seen from a suspension bridge down the hill from it or from a suspension bridge above it:

Here’s another flower we found that even had Tony stumped:

They dug the hillsides out to create the paths making up the trail and frequently there was just a dirt bank on the upper side.  Here, as is most places in Costa Rica, flora has taken over:

Though they never came down close enough for us to get any good pictures, here’s one of a family of spider monkeys that was playing in the tree tops:

This is a view of Arenal Volcan from one of the suspension bridges:

This first picture is of leaf eaters coming down from WAY up ina tree, there are two lines.  One line (empty handed) goes up the tree and the other line (full handed) comes down:

Their nest is not close to the tree and you can see in this picture how they have actually worn down a path (the dirt is actually compacted from the amount of times the ants have crossed it):

At the end/beginning of the walk, there’s restrooms, a cafeteria, gift shop and tons of little and large birds hanging out for your enjoyment.  There is a tree that had several vultures in and and would fly in and out the back of the tree and never showed themselves.  In front of that tree is a papaya tree shown here with a ton of colorful little birds like this redish bird and these really cute yellow birds with the black burglar’s mask: 🙂

On the way back to Leigh’s house, we passed this white-nosed coati (kind of related to raccoons).  He let us get pretty close before some idiot saw us and swerved into to grass next to him and chased the coati away.  Leigh says the ones that live along the roads are so used to tourists that you can come right up and feed them (as long as they aren’t afraid they are going to be run over):  🙂

This next plant I had taken a picture from our trek down to Lake Arenal the other day, but the picture didn’t turn out.  These sensitivity plants are all over.  When you touch them, the fern like leaves fold in together along the vein as a defense mechanism against insects, heavy rain, etc.  They accomplish this by shift water:

Finally, these are our companions at Leigh’s house.  There’s somewhere around 30 howler monkeys in the full troupe, but they break out into smaller packs during the day.  They get up each morning around 5:30 am and the males start this low pitched, extended growling and do this for several hours.  They also do this later in the afternoon.  This morning when they were frisking about, we went down to see them and they actually moved over towards us and occupied the line of trees right along the farm path we were standing on.  They didn’t seem threatened by us.  You do need to be careful, because they are known to urinate on you if you scare them or make them angry:  🙂

One week to go, keep warm and I’ll be joining you before I want to,  🙂


  • Hi Chuck & Myra,

    No new recipes, but having a great time. Yes, I heard the north east got dumped on, running around in shorts and tee shirt.

    Sorry, I couldn’t not say that, 🙂

  • Keep the pictures coming Ed!!! This is great.

  • Ed,

    I am enjoying the Costa Rica blog entries. We just got dumped on with 8 inches of snow here in NJ. Have you picked up any Costa Rican breakfasts to bring back to the Parador?


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