towers 2,697-metre high into the clouds and is topped by one of the world’s
largest volcanic craters.
The volcano is
still active today but without any exposed melted lava. In the main stratovolcano
caldera, you can see, when there are no codes, the lower crater filled with
sulfur lake and bubbling gasses.
At the top of
the mountain there are two craters, the main caldera of 1.5 km in diameter and 100
m deep, and the Botos lagoon, cold water lake filled by rain.
The beauty of
this park is the fact that you can drive almost all the way up to the caldera
rim and with a short easy 15 min walk from the parking lot you are arriving to the
view deck overlooking the massive crater.
Allow yourself something
around 2 hours to this park visit (not including the driving time), assuming
you are doing the full 3.5 km hike else this can be much shorter visit.
Located in central
Costa Rica relatively close to the capital city San Jose.
There are few
rods leading the base of the mountain and from the junction of road 146 with
road 120 there is only one road (120) that will lead you to the park entrance.
Once you get
the reservation to your mail print or download it (take a picture of it)
because there is no cell reception in the park entrance.
Due note 3: In August of
2022 the Laguna Botos trail was reopened.
Due note 4: Before coming check
the weather conditions and try to visit here in the morning before clouds start
to build up above the high mountain. Often, the volcano is hidden behind a
thick layer of clouds and can’t be seen.
Due note 5: Because of the
unique view and the park San Jose proximity this is one of the most visited
national parks, do not expect to be the only one here, especially during weekends
and holidays. We visit here during Christmas weekend and it was crowded but we still
enjoy the view.
Due note 6: Once you know
your date buy the tickets, they are letting in visitors according to a specific
Due note 7: Dress in
layers, this is high mountain, and the top can be quite windy or even cold and
rainy. Bring some warm clothes with you. Carry with you raincoat or poncho, as
rain may come and it’s often misty with all the clouds.
Due note 8: You no longer
need to get a helmet and watch a safety movie or to walk in group.
Due note 9: I’m not
covering restaurants (or hotels) recommendation, but you can find many restaurants
on your way down from the mountain along the main roads.
This is not as excited
as seeing bubbling lava flows, but it is impressive to see this huge caldera
crater where below you in the cone the turquoise sulfuric lake.
The hike to Laguna
Botos is nice and highly recommended extension but we did not saw a lot of birds
when walking there.
If you are not
walking to Laguna Botos this visit can be very short, 1 hour.
After driving and
climbing high into the mountain you will reach the park entrance, they will
check your online reservation and you will need to pay extra fee for parking.
Right after the
parking lot you will reach the visitor main park building.
No longer you need
to watch a movie or were protecting helmets (as I saw in many YouTube videos).
When we visit
here (Dec. 2022) the small museum was close the café and souvenir store where
From the building
there is a wide and easy paved trail (0.5 km) leading to the volcano crater
over-look. It will probably take you 10-15 min of easy walking to reach the viewing
platform provide amazing view to the volcano crater below you and surrounding mountains
to the north.
The Poas volcano
is an active one and erupted 40 times since 1828.
Poás is active,
but don’t expect to see any lava flow here.
In April of
2017 an eruption of gas, ash and rocks. As an outcome of this eruption poison
gas monitors were install and concrete bunkers were added, at the end of August
2018 the park partially re-opened to the public.
The crater is
1,050 feet (320 meters) deep and almost a mile (1.6 km) across, it is the
largest active crater in the world.
When there are
no clouds, you will see way below you the sulfuric, bubbling, green lake. Around
it you will see steam and volcanic gases rising from fumaroles cracks. Water
from the lake is constantly seeping through cracks in the hot rock, evaporating
and building pockets of steam.
If there are
clouds when you arrive, be patient. The weather around Poas is constantly
changing so the crater to be clouded over one minute and visible the next.
platform, on a good day, you can clearly see the effects of acid rain. For several
miles downwind (to the left) the vegetation is stunted brown and black by the
tainted moisture that precipitates from the omnipresent clouds near the peak.
viewing platform there is an entrance to a side trail leading to Botos Lagoon.
The narrow trail
will take you through cloud forest and after some climbing you will reach to
Lake Botos. This extinct volcanic crater that is 400 meters (2,525 feet) wide
and 14 meters (46 feet) deep. It’s covered in a pool of cold blue-green water.
the lake, you can continue your hike on the trail, and after additional
climbing you will reach long descend section that will lead you back the
parking lots and the visitor center.
Overall, the loop
hike to the crater viewing deck and to Botos Lagoon is 3.4 km long and can be
done by kids.