Traveling to Costa Rica conjures up some specific images—tropical rainforests, gorgeous beaches, and volcanoes are the three most common. When you stop to think about it from a practical standpoint, you might ask why volcanoes are something that attracts tourism. It's a mountain, and mountains are all over the place yet we’re still drawn to them. But these mountains explode and throw hot lava around. Come along with me on Day Seven of my bucket list adventures and I'll show you why.
Most, if not all of our travel clients are avid adventurers and have been to many fascinating places that have mountains. There are tons of recreational opportunities that mountains offer us. There's also a different sort of wildlife experience with mountains. But volcanoes? What is it about these mountains that draw tourists? Some volcanoes are silent, some are smoking, some are rumbling and some are downright spewing venom. They’re truly alive and for me that makes a hike on a volcano a mystical experience. The idea that I am walking on a sleeping giant is spooky and thrilling. It takes me back to childhood stories of fantasies where troll-like creatures were hiking along a mountain track not realizing that they were actually on the back of the sleeping Dragon until it woke and smoke started to vent from its nostrils. Feel the chills?
Another cool thing about the Volcanos is the vegetation growth that's around them. The forests are typically dense and lush, teeming with wildlife. It’s different from a virgin rain forest, as the trees are not as tall and the forest floor is much thicker with vegetation. The soil is richer in minerals which feed a wider variety of flora and fauna. This in turn attracts a wider variety of wildlife, which attracts a wider variety of people, like YOU!
Costa Rica has over 200 identifiable volcanic formations dating back more than 65 million years. Today, however, only 100 or so show any signs of volcanic activity, while just five are classified as active volcanoes with at least one eruption since 1994. Most of the volcanoes in Costa Rica lie in the northern part of the country and in the Central Highlands.
Irazú, immediately east of the capital San José, is Costa Rica's highest (over 11,000 feet high) and one of its most active volcanoes. Ash from the last major eruption of Irazú in 1963-65 caused heavy damage to infrastructure and life in San José and its surroundings.