Costa Rica is famous for its volcanoes: beauties such as Arenal Volcano, Poas Volcano or Irazu draw many visitors every year. It's hard to believe that with such a small area, Costa Rica is host to three hundred volcanic centers (they include active, dormant, and extinct), five of which are active. This does not necessarily mean that they spew molten magma all the time, but they may release ash, steam, and geyser-like ejections of water.
Most of Costa Rica's volcanoes are located in the northern part of the country, forming a sort of back bone. They are an important part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is an arc that starts in New Zealand, and goes north through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, through Alaska, turning south along North America, Central America, and South America, ending in Peru and Chile. Costa Rica sits right atop the "Pacific Ring Fire Circle." Most of the volcanoes are located in the Central Highlands where, people whizzing by in their automobiles, mistake them for hills.
When visiting a volcano in Costa Rica you do not have to limit yourself to merely touring the slopes and cones of these geological giants, although they do occupy most of your attention. The areas surrounding each volcano in Costa Rica have a lot to offer as far as activities and different natural features that might enhance your trip and provide a more fun filled and interesting vacation. In the nearby areas you will usually find lakes or rivers that are great for fishing as well as, in some cases, water sports of several types. For the more adventurous there are also many day tours to take. Endless hiking trails through rugged forests and mountains near the Costa Rica volcanoes, canopy tours and horse back riding are a few of the things that you can have great fun with.
The most popular are: Arenal with its near-perfectly shaped cone, beautiful adjoining lake, and nightly lava flows. Irazu, standing at 11,300 feet has a blue green lagoon in one of its craters, and on a clear day you can enjoy views of both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from the summit. Poas flaunts one of the widest craters in the world and has a beautiful nearby lake. Turrialba is densely vegetated and has three well-defined craters. Rincon de la Vieja, also known as the Colossus of Guanacaste has nine craters, and its surrounding areas are unvegetated and scarred by erosion.
The inactive Costa Rica volcanoes that you may want to visit include volcanoes Barva, Miravalles, and Orosi. You will have an ample array of choices when it comes to choosing the sites you wish to visit and explore. You can take advantage of the short distances within the country and visit several locations in just a few days, or you can select a base camp and go to several different sites from there. Just think about it, you can get to see up to eleven different Costa Rica volcanoes and their surroundings all in just a short time.
There are two volcanic mountain range systems in Costa Rica:
-Central Volcanic Range System
-Guanacaste Volcanic Range System
From Lava to Java
Mountains push up land in Costa Rica's interior. A O group of mountain chains the Guanacaste, the Tilarán, the Central, and the Talamanca ranges fences in the Central Valley. About 74 percent of the population lives on the Meseta Central, or Central Plateau, in the middle of the valley. Here lies the capital city of San José.
More than 100 volcanoes lurk in Costa Rica's mountain ranges. But only 7 still erupt. Small rumblings, followed by streams of lava, burst from Arenal Volcano every 5 to 200 minutes. At night the fiery lava dances like fireworks in the sky.
Volcanic lava and ash contain special ingredients that enrich the soil. Over hundreds of years, eruptions have laid down layer upon layer of valuable earth, turning the Central Valley into rich farmland. Many Costa Ricans make their living growing coffee and selling it to other countries. There's a good chance that the java, or coffee, your mom had for breakfast this morning started with a Costa Rican volcano!