Poas Volcano is one of the most popular volcanoes in Costa Rica. Mostly because of the proximity to San Jose (approximately an hour and a half). The amazingly dense forest park that surrounds the two craters makes it an oasis close to the city! Poas has one of the largest active craters in the world. It measures over a mile wide and over 900 feet deep. There are two crater lakes near the summit of Poas.
The National Park consists of nearly 15,000 acres that encompass at least four different habitats. This is another testament to Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity. The bubbling crater lagoon of Costa Rica’s Poás Volcano is one of the country’s most thrilling attractions. The color of the lagoon varies from aquamarine to green. The National Park features easy access to beautiful trails, awe-inspiring lookout points and an interactive museum that details the history of Poas Volcano National Park. Scenic hiking paths wind through cloud forest landscapes.
Biodiversity of Poas National Park
The dwarf or stunted forest is particularly spectacular. It includes Bonsai sized trees and resilient ferns whose growth is thwarted by the acid rain. There is a long history of eruptions – forty since 1828. Furthermore, the crater of the Poas have Geysers which can spew up to 600 feet, making it one of the highest geysers worldwide. Verdant foliage covers most of the park and is primarily made up of cloud forest and humid low mountain forest. The lower slopes of the volcano are covered with coffee plantations and ornamental plant farms. You can see that crater vicinity is mostly barren with windswept shrubs. Hundreds of epiphytes dangle from moss-laden trees, and the park is dotted with tons of poor man’s umbrella plants which are also known for their gigantic leaves.
Wildlife and Park History
The Poas National Park has eighty different species of birds. Birders will adore the variety of species in the area. Hummingbirds, toucans, sooty robins, black guans, and tanagers all frequently sighted. We shall not forget the resplendent quetzal also makes its home in the region. Because of the acidity in the crater lakes, there is little marine life. The history of the Poas National Park has a unique tie to the United States. In the 1960’s, a student named Mario Boza was visiting Poas. He was so impressed with its natural beauty that he wrote a conservation management plan for the area as his master’s thesis. Consequently, his thesis is the backbone of the National Park system in Costa Rica.
Visiting the Poas Volcano
The park has no accommodations and camping is not permitted in the National Park. There are some charming places to stay in the area – such as the Poas Volcano Lodge for example. This is one of the most visited and developed of the National Parks in Costa Rica. So there is ample access to all sorts of abilities. The visitor’s center and museum offer informative materials on the geography and history of the area. Additionally, there is a nice restaurant and plenty of comfort facilities. A well-developed system of trails is available for visitors, but the combination of humidity and cool temperatures make dressing correctly especially important.
Few volcanoes anywhere in the world allow you to drive right up to the rim. However, Poas allows you to get within 300 ft of the edge. At over 8000 feet above sea level, it offers amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the beautiful crater lakes. The Volcano is a powerful symbol of the geothermal forces that formed Costa Rica.
Hiking the Trails
One of the best aspects of Poas is its accessibility. The park features a paved road that goes all the way to the crater’s edge. The national park is one of the few in Costa Rica that is almost entirely wheelchair friendly. Therefore, even more tourists are able to adore the beauty of the Poas Volcano. There are three main hiking trails, which are ideal for travelers of all ages and abilities. The popular Botos Lake Trail leads to a stunning lagoon in the dormant Botos crater and is an easy half hour trek from the main lookout point.
There are trails to each of the three crater lakes which offer uniquely different environments. One of these crater lakes is over 1000 feet deep, making it the largest volcanic lagoon in the world. Keep in mind that September and October are the region’s rainiest months. Poas Volcano tours make for terrific day trips from the San Jose area. Depending on the excursion, it may include visits to other attractions including waterfall parks or even coffee plantations and the lowland rainforest of Sarapiqui. Without a doubt, Poas Volcano earns its reputation as one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular natural attractions.
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Poas Volcano Map
The Poas National Park has an amazing bird population and many fascinating animals to view while visiting.