northern zone stretches from the eastern Atlantic plains north
to Nicaragua and west to Lake Arenal and Monteverde Cloud Forest
Reserve. Board a boat on the wide, calm Sarapiqui River to view
wildlife in a region dotted with banana plantations.
and ecotourism efforts of Rara Avis, Selva Verde and La Selva
are proving that the rainforests are a valuable asset for the
people to protect. Northwest of San Jose, beyond the town of Fortuna
is Arenal Volcano, a quintessential perfectly conical volcano.
The volcano frequently billows gray and orange gases, and red
hot boulders bounce down the slopes. It is most impressive to
see at night, as the bright red rocks and sometimes lava flow
accompany loud explosions. It makes for quite a show as you bask
in the warm thermal waters of Tabacon Springs. The last major
eruption occurred in 1968 when it destroyed the town of Pueblo
Nuevo on the western side. In fact, Arenal's frequent release
of pressure and gasses indicates a far lesser chance of a major
eruption and the people of nearby Fortuna live with peace of mind.
From the Arenal
Observatory Lodge, you can hike to a nearby cooled
lava flow and stand in the wake of a recent eruption with a panoramic
view of Lake Arenal and the Volcano.
Arenal Volcano often puts on a show
southwest is the cloud forest reserve founded by Alabama Quakers
and biologists, Monteverde. The creation of the Reserve is an
excellent example of the coexistence of farming and forests.
Large patches of untouched forest provide windbreaks and conserve
moisture and soil. The Reserve itself is habitat to over 400
species of birds
including the Resplendent Quetzel and three-wattled bellbird.
Ancient trees covered in layers of epiphytes are shrouded in
thick mist punctuated by occasional rays of tropical sunshine.
The trails are well maintained and a pair of binoculars are
indispensible to discern the wildlife your guide will reveal.