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Central America Poás (Costa Rica)

Ever wanted to peer into an active volcano without the drama of climbing it? You can. Volcano Poás is one of the most visited parks in Costa Rica, the lookout into its crater is just about 10 minutes easy walk from the parking lot. It is actually the only volcano I know of that even has a wheelchair access! The huge crater (1320 meters wide and about 300 deep, even though these measures are changing constantly) is surrounded by foliage and has a lake in the center. Some mornings its pastel blue-greenish water bubbles up monstrously. Thanks to its altitude (2574 m) and windy climate, it could be quite chilly on the peak of Poás, so take a long sleeve.

Attention: Thick clouds usually cover the crater of Poás every day after 10 am, so it is important to come early.
What here: Right from the crater lookout is a small path leading through dwarf cloud forest to Laguna Botos, ancient volcano crater filled with rain water. It looks like a beautiful azure lake, however its water is somewhat cold (13°C) and still very acid. Only some microorganisms and algae are able to survive in it. The name Botos comes from an indigenous tribe that lived in the outskirts of Poás.
The visitors center has a small museum, big souvenir shop and a nice café. On the way to Poás along the curvy road you will find many restaurants with pretty views and shops selling small white salty cheese ramiquins and strawberries (if it is the right season).

Where to stay: Most people stay in San José or Alajuela (a smaller city about one hour closer to Poás), but you can also spend the night in some of the guesthouses or small hotels on the road. It is actually much nicer then the hectic capital San José plus the location will safe you two hours when getting up in the morning.

Entrance: 10 USD. Get your change ready. Because even though this „tourist friendly country“ charges everything in US dollars, do not even think of handing them a 100 dollars bill. Not even if you pay ten entrances. 100 dollars bills are „not accepted“ and if you don´t have a change, you have a problem.

How to get here: Morning buses come from San José (3 hours) and Alajuela (2 hours). However they do not leave before 8 am so your chances to reach Poás before 10 and see the crater without clouds are pretty thin. Better if you can rent a car or go on a trip with some travel agency.