Poás Volcano National Park

The Poas volcano elevates to a height of 2.708 meters and is one of the most spectacular volcanos in Costa Rica. It is one of Costa Rica's national parks with an extension of 5,599 Hectares.

The crater is a huge depression that measures 1.5 kilometers in diameter and 300 meters deep.

At the bottom of the crater there is a circular hot-water lake with temperatures that vary between 40-70 degrees Centigrade. The level of the water in the lake varies and its color changes from turquoise green to gray.
There are several fumaroles that remain active at all times.

To the southeast of the main crater, there is another cone known as Botos which was the center of activity up to some 7.500 years ago. Now it has a beautiful cold-water lake which measures about 400 meters in diameter. The "Laguna Botos" is accesible by a well-kept walking trail and it is worth visiting.

Poas has a long history of violent eruptions. The most recent active period lasted from 1952-54. and shook the area with underground rumblings while the volcano itself erupted huge clouds of ash and burning rocks.

There are four main habitats in the park: areas with little or no vegetation, an area of arrayans, stunted forest, and cloud forest. The first habitat corresponds to the crater and near-by areas. No plants grow inside the crater due to the effect of the gasses. natural erosion and lack of soil. However, on the edge of the crater and in neighboring areas grow some species that are especially adapted to the terrain of hardened ash or lava where they cling tenaciously. These species include the paddle fern (Elaphoglossum lingua), and small Pernettia ccriacea plants. The farther away from the edge of the crater, the greater the number of species and their height. Several species of moss and lichens grow here, together with arrayan (Vaccinium consanguineum) and Myrica phanerodonta.
The arrayan zone is made up of dwarf plants. some of which are dead or budding. This habitat is located near the look-out point over the crater and along the first part of the trail between the crater and the lake.

The habitat of stunted or dwarf forest can be seen along the trail between the crater and the lake. This slow-growing forest is almost impenetrable and the branches of the trees are completely twisted out of shape.

The wildlife is scare, although birds are common. Some of the 79 species observed are the sooty robin (Turdus nigrescens). black guan (Chamaepetes unicolor). fiery-throated hummingbird (Pan terpe insignis). resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), without a doubt, the most beautiful bird on the continent and emerald tucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus).

Poas is accesible by road at all times taking about 1 1/2 hours to get there from San Jose. It is woth visiting for anybody that wants to take a half day tour, or maybe combine it with a visit to the nearby La Paz waterfalls.

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Aerial view of the Poas Volcano

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The Poas Volcano crater

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