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Arenal Volcano: Guidelines for a Safe Visit

Arenal Volcano, monteverde and tamarindo beach costa rica expeditions
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After an avalanche of hot gases (pyroclastic flow) killed a guide and visitor in 2000, Costa Rica Expeditions created a new visitation policy for the Arenal area. The tragedy made us reassess the volcano’s danger.

Over the years we have hired the services of three different vulcanologists to help us determine the safest visitation policy for the Arenal Volcano Area. We now strongly recommend that guests enjoy their visit and the views of the volcano from safer distances.

Although many local tour companies offer tours on the flanks of the volcano - including horseback rides, hikes and drives - CRE recommends avoiding these areas. Many tours are carried out in the dips and valleys below the volcano; the most likely routes for an avalanche of burning rocks and deadly gas.

The main road that goes around the north side of the volcano serves as a visual boundry between high and reduced risk areas. The road (most of it**) is within a reduced risk area as there is a geografical depression between the volcano and the road. This would slow down and likely stop any pyroclastic flows from reaching the road itself.

**NOTE: The areas close to Los Lagos, El Novillo and Tabacon Spa are exceptions to this and should be regarded as HIGH RISK areas.

Arenal Volcano, monteverde and tamarindo beach costa rica expeditions
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Please consider the two lists below. They are based on how the risk increases depending on the amount of time that you spend on an area subject to the influence of an eruption. The first is a partial list of places to be avoided and the second, areas where you can enjoy your stay with lesser risk of injury should an eruption occur.

Some High Risk Areas/Activities

  • Hotel Los Lagos & La Guillermina Creek : On the Northeast side of the volcano
  • Tabacon Spa: On the NW side of the volcano. In June 1975, before the spa was built, an avalanche of rock and burning gases passed over this very spot. Please call us to arrange for alternative hot springs visits.
  • The old lava trail at Arenal Observatory Lodge: On the South side of the volcano
  • Mirador El Silencio: On the West side of the volcano
  • El Tacotal: On the north side of the volcano
  • Los Tucanes and Pilones Trails: On the Southwest side of the volcano, this trails head east and west from the main path within the National Park
  • When driving around Arenal, don’t stop to observe the wildlife at Los Lagos or between el Novillo Restaurant and Tabacon. Treat these areas the same way you would a high-risk avalanche zone and leave as soon as possible.
  • Some horseback riding trips operate in high-danger zones so be sure to check where you’re going before the ride.
Some Reduced Risk Areas
  • Volcano Lodge: On the NE side of the the volcano
  • Arenal Paraiso Hotel & Montaña de Fuego Hotel: Both on the North side of the volcano, next to the road.
  • Tabacon Hotel: It is on top of a slope from the Spa, safer but always a reduced risk area becouse of the proximity
  • Arenal Lodge, Lost Iguana Hotel and Arenal Hanging Bridges: All on the NW side of the volcano.
  • Arenal Observatory Hotel: On the South side of the volcano
  • El Novillo Restaurant: On the NW side of the volcano, next to the road
  • Hotel Kioro: This place, if visited should be for shorts periods of time, please park your car facing the exit. We do not recommend staying overnight in the hotel.
  • El Silencio del Campo Hotel: On the North side of the volcano

In an Emergency: In case of an eruption, stay calm and return to your hotel. Once there, call Costa Rica Expeditions (257-0766 or 222-0333) to let us know where you are. We are open from 5:30 AM to 9:00 PM, 365 days a year. If the emergency takes place after hours, call Natalie Ewing, COO, at 224-4120 or 843-3100.

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