La Fortuna town has been blessed with several natural wonders like rivers, lakes, forests, waterfalls, and mountains. The Arenal Volcano is definitely the icon of the area. With an altitude of 1633 meters above sea level, this stratovolcano (built in layers) stands out due to its almost perfect conical shape, visible from many kilometers around it.
The volcano started its last period of activity in 1968, with a sudden and violent eruption of lava, rocks, and gases, destroying the towns of Tabacon, San Luis, and Pueblo Nuevo, located very close to its base and unfortunately killing more than 87 people in that event.
This eruption from 1968, reached up to 15 kilometers around the mountain, reaching all closest towns at the west side of the hill. These eruptions continued for several days destroying all the scenes around by spoiling and burying crops and covering everything under layers of lava and ash.
Locals who still live in La Fortuna town today tell the story of columns of ash and smog with kilometers of height above the sky, painting a dark scenario and covering their houses and properties and giant lava rocks falling like bombs and burning everything.
Until 1968, the closest inhabitants of the area thought that Arenal Volcano was a hill and not a volcano.
The actual volcano had several names before that date, according to the locals the most remembered name was Pan de Azucar hill or Arenal hill. However, some people were already suspecting of its activity, due to seismic activity, some of the closest rivers turn into a hot water river, and some gases escaping from springs around the mountain. These gases got to kill some cattle in one of the farms according to the local narrative.
Scientists are studying this colossus to evaluate its activity, as its last lava flow occurred in 2010, but there are still traces of its possible activeness, with seismic activity and some expulsions of ash, less frequent with the days. According to official studies, the Arenal Volcano has been aged around 7000 years, being the youngest volcano in Costa Rica, and in conjunction with the closest hill named Chato, today has become and make-up one of Costa Rica's National Parks.
The Arenal Volcano area is an important watershed for the Arenal Lake Reservoir, which is man made and finished in 1979. The reservoir's water is used to produce between 12 and 15% of the hydroelectric power of the country.
Nowadays the Arenal Volcano is one of the most visited national parks around Costa Rica. Yet despite the volcano not producing lava anymore, many visitors around the world come to know the story around it. One important fact is that the Volcano has been one of the strongest development piles that helped La Fortuna Town for decades to become one of the most touristic destinations in Costa Rica.
People used to come to see the strings of red lava flowing down from its crater, but today they come to spend some relaxing time and the hot springs or enjoy one of the most of 30 activities in town; for example, tourists can enjoy tours of hiking, rafting, kayaking, rappelling, wildlife watching, horseback riding, wind-surfing, floating, tubing, zip-lining, birdwatching, even spelunking.
Today La Fortuna area and Arenal Volcano are a must in your vacation plans. This valley is surrounded by beautiful lakes, rivers, hot springs, lush and green; and beautiful and peaceful landscapes that will revitalize you.
Interesting Facts about Arenal Volcano
Height: 1.633 meters / 5357 feet
Age: 7000 years old
Arenal Volcano area: 33 km2 / 8155 acres
National Park size: 121 km2 / 30.000 acres
National Park trails: 4.6 kilometers of trails
Location: Alajuela Province, Costa Rica.
Distance to La Fortuna: 9 km / 5.6 miles
Mountain type: Stratovolcano
Last eruption: 1968 to 2010