Volcán Poás, Costa Rica

Latitude 10.19075°N Longitude 84.2327°W

Thursday, November 21, 2002

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After visiting Manuel Antonio National Park we returned to San Jose to catch the Tica Bus to Panama City. But instead of getting on the next bus we were surprised to find out that the service was fully booked for the next three days and the earliest we could travel was Friday. This gave us more time to kill in San Jose, which was a pity as the city was noisy, polluted and somewhat dangerous - we would much rather have spent the time somewhere like Monteverde... In fact, Murphy had arranged that I would be spending my birthday - my 40th birthday! - in San Jose. This was clearly punishment from above for our recent good times.

So when we arose today and were presented with an absolutely picture perfect day, we made a snap decision to visit the huge Volcán Poás, several hours bus ride away from San Jose.

Unlike Pacaya, there was no hike involved. Volcán Poás is one of Costa Rica's premier tourist attractions and there was a paved road for the tourist buses all the way to the visitor's center at the summit. The sky remained clear long enough for us to enjoy the huge, smoking crater which was created in the erruption of 1953. A small sulphuric acid lake had formed in the center of the caldera with an unnatural opaque pale blue hue. Steam was spurting from several vents on the shore where piles of pure bright yellow sulphur were sublimating. The air was thick with poisonous sulphur dioxide vapour which mixed with the steam to form sulphurous acid in our lungs. Much of the lush vegetation in the vicinity of the summit had been eaten away by the acid fumes, evidence that it was probably not doing our lungs much good.

After a while, we'd inhaled enough of this elixir and retreated, coughing and choking, to the visitor's center. Soon thick clouds came rolling in and the visibilty had dropped to zero. We'd made our visit just in time!

Photos: (click on images to see full size)

Volcán Poás main craterDelicate ferns in the surrounding cloud forest

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