Poas Volcano National Park*

The volcanic lagoons, fumaroles, and Poas Volcano craters make it one of the country's most popular national parks with more than 175,000 visitors every year. Approximately an hour drive (depending on traffic) from San Jose, Poas National Park is comprised of three craters and four major habitats: arrayans, (wiry, wind-swept trees), a cloud forest, stunted forests, and barren scrub lands.  
Among the most accessible active volcanoes in the world, the park is wheelchair-friendly with paved trails leading to a sensational view of the second-widest crater (9/10th of a mile) in the world with a green/yellow lagoon at its center. At a depth of nearly 1000 feet, it is the largest and most acidic volcanic lagoon on earth.

Another one of the craters is home to a cold-water lagoon, known as Botos Lake, which flows down the mountain and flows into the Sarapiqui River. The hike to the lagoon is another half mile of steep, paved terrain from the main crater viewpoint. Surrounded by cloud forests, the edges of the lagoon are covered in giant ferns, poor man’s umbrella plants, and wildflowers.

There are three marked trails in the park. Crater Trail is a 2,460 foot-long paved path looking out to the main crater. Botos Lake Trail is a half mile trail that winds through the chilly cloud forest to a cold water lake that occupies an extinct volcano crater. The thirty minute hike ends at a wonderful spot for a picnic. Escalonia Trail starts at the picnic grounds and is the quietest of the three trails because it has few hikers.

The park is home to eighty or more bird species, including sooty robins, black guans, the resplendent quetzal, toucans, flame-throated warblers, squirrel cuckoos, great curassows, purple-throated mountain gems, golden-hooded tanagers, and hummingbirds. Less commonly seen are Baird's tapirs, coyotes, squirrels, rabbits and bats. Vegetation includes orchids, royal broom zorrillos and poor man's umbrellas, famous for having the largest leaves of any plant in Costa Rica.

We recommend bringing a poncho, camera, binoculars, long pants, sunscreen, insect repellent, warm clothes, hiking shoes, and good health condition.


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