Face to face with a Costa Rican crater - Metro US

Face to face with a Costa Rican crater

Sure, Costa Rica has the sunny beaches and swaying palms, but this Central American paradise also has a lot more to offer in the form of true eco adventure.

On a Nolitours excursion, I found myself smack dab in the middle of a lush mountain jungle, surrounded by (no kidding) giant hairy sloths, screaming howler monkeys, and wild long snouted tapirs. You won’t find this kind of wildlife in downtown Cancun.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in this very clean country is the beautiful cone-shaped, and very active, Arenal volcano. This 5,000-foot-high wonder blew it’s top back in 1968, and has been erupting ever since, making for some nervous hiking up to the crater. It’s one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world, so it’s not uncommon to behold glowing orange lava flows, and sudden explosions on a daily basis. But, it’s all worth it, for the breathtaking view.

I found myself hiking up the volcano in sweltering heat on a narrow jungle trail, taking in the abundant wildlife surrounding all that volcanic rock. After spotting a few long-beaked toucans and an iguana or two, it wasn’t long before I nearly stumbled over a cute little snake with a heart-shaped head, coiled up in the middle of our path. I almost wanted to pick this little guy up for a closer look. Instead, I pointed out my slithery friend to our jungle guide, who quickly informed me, we had discovered a baby hog-nosed viper snake. It turns out that little fellow happens to be one of the most poisonous snakes in the country, one little nip could have killed me in 40 minutes. Maybe picking him up wouldn’t be such a prudent decision after all.

The volcano hike ended with a breathtaking view of the crater, and a realization that life is precious. There’s nothing like a close encounter with a scary snake to make you all philosophical.

Air Transat offers direct flights to Costa Rica from Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal.

Other Cool Things to Do in Costa Rica

Whale Watching in the South Pacific: Take a day tour to observe the magnificent humpbacks off Osa Penninsula. Twenty-five different speciies of whales and dolphins migrate through these waters.

White Water Rafting: The rainy season makes for many raging rivers throughout the country. Rafting day tours offer some bumpy adventure and great forest scenery.

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