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Arenal Volcano EarthCache EarthCache

This cache has been archived.

OusKonNé & Cétyla: When we visited the Arenal Volcano in 2009, we could hike the 1992 lava flow and follow the yellow poles that lead us to the other side. But in recent years, the vegetation has taken over, making it impossible to cross the lava flow. It is even risky and dangerous to try to reach the Earthcache location. Moreover, the access to a large part of the 1992 lava flow is now forbidden.

Considering these significant changes to vegetation and for the safety of geocachers, we made the difficult decision to archive this Earthcache.

Thanks to all the geocachers who visited this Earthcache since its publication in January 2010!

OusKonNé, Cétyla, OpusTerra & BellaTerra

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Geocache Description:

Arenal Volcano EarthCache

Arenal Volcano from across Lake Arenal
...The third most-perfect volcanic cone in the world...

Arenal Volcano EarthCache

Located 2,7 km southwest from the summit of the Arenal Volcano, this EarthCache brings you to the Arenal Volcano National Park where you will have the opportunity to hike over the 1992 lava flow and observe volcanic activities.

Arenal, Spanish for "Pile of Sand", derives its name from the fact that its lava creates lithologic and crystalline sands (volcanic dust) that accumulates along-side the banks of the rivers running at the base of its two main cones.

Arenal Volcano Topography
The EarthCache is located 2,7 km southwest from the summit of the Arenal Volcano

The Sleeping Power of Arenal Volcano

Until the late 1960's, local people called this imposing giant Cerro Arenal, as there was very little to indicate that under the tree covered slopes lay the sleeping power of a volcano.

But all that changed in 1968. People living near the volcano noticed that the temperature of hot springs around the volcano was increasing. Then, after a series of earthquakes, the volcano blew on July 29, 1968, sending shockwaves that were recorded as far away as the western United States. Ballistic blocks from the 1968 eruption may have traveled as fast as 400 meters per second – more than 800 miles per hour!

Arenal has been almost continuously active since the 1968 eruption, extruding basaltic andesite lava flows, Strombolian and occasional Vulcanian explosions from the summit craters, and pyroclastic flows from the collapsing fronts of the lava flows.

Today, Arenal is the most active volcano in Costa Rica, and one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world.

Facts About Arenal

Location:  Alajuela Province, Costa Rica
Elevation:  1 670 meters above sea level (5,479 ft)
Crater:  140 meters in depth (459 ft)
Volcano Type:  Stratovolcano
(same type as Japan's Mt. Fuji)
Age:  More than 7000 years
(the youngest volcano in Costa Rica)
Last Eruption:  1968 – 2010 (continually active)
Did You Know?
Due to the high level of activity, Arenal grows on average six meters (20 ft) each year.

Volcano aficionados have declared Arenal:
The third most-perfect volcanic cone in the world

Access to the Park

The Arenal Volcano National Park entrance is located at N10 27.704 W084 44.386.

There is an entrance fee to the park that is collected as you enter (15 US$ per person). Ask for a map if they don't give it to you. Maps are available in several languages, including Spanish, English and French. Parking is available at the park entrance, or you can drive up a short distance to a second parking to be closer to the main trailhead (see the alternative waypoints).

Open hours: 8:00am to 4:00pm

Lava rocks falling from the top of the volcano
OusKonNé at the Eartcache location

The 6km Roundtrip Hike

After an easy hike along a beautiful pedestrian trail, you will see a few signs warning you of the high volcanic risk. Follow up the trail and you will reach the stairs that will lead you up to the northern part of the 1992 lava flow. Here, you have to mark a first waypoint into your GPS to be able to answer at the mandatory question to log the EarthCache.

Now, you have to hike over this massive lava flow. The terrain is quite rough and marked only by thin yellow poles to lead you to the other side. Not many people can claim they have hiked over lava. You are now one of them. When you will get to the southern side of the lava flow, mark a second waypoint into you GPS. You are now able to determine the width of the lava flow as required to log this EarthCache as found.

While observing the lava flow, you might see and even hear some lava rocks falling from the top of the volcano (see above picture). Open your ears and listen to the incredible sounds of these volcanic activities.

Please wear closed shoes (not sandals) and carry your camera, rain ponchos, binoculars, water and insect repellent. Don't forget that the park closes at 4pm.

No trespassing warning sign "No Trespassing" Warning Sign

At the Eartcache location, please respect the "No Trespassing" warning sign.

Logging requirements

To log this EarthCache, please:
  1. On the ground, estimate the approximate width (meters or feet) of the 1992 lava flow (for more details, read paragraph "The 6km Roundtrip Hike").
  2. Send your answer to the cache owners.
  3. Wait for confirmation of the cache owners to log your find.
  4. Not mandatory but would be very appreciated by the cache owners:
    In your log, post picture(s) of you, GPS in hand, at the cache location with the Arenal Volcano as background.
    Other pictures of your hike to the Arenal Volcano would be appreciated too.
Lava flowing down the slope of Arenal Volcano on a clear night
Lava flowing down the slope of Arenal Volcano on a clear night

EarthCache by
OusKonNé & Cétyla OpusTerra

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