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ALAJUELA

NATURAL AREAS

National Park Volcan Poás: The park as created in 1970 in order to protect the vast woods and surrounding hydrographic basins of the Poás, one of the few active volcanoes in the world. It is possible to ascend and observe the smoke wisps and small geyser eruptions that are produced in the bottom of the crater, which is 1.6 kilometres wide.
The Poas has an altitude of 2704 meters and forms part of the Cordillera Volcanica Central. Its geographic environment is configured by different types of habitat like for example: the dwarf woods, the area of the myrtle and the misty forest. In this last one there is an abundance of moss, ferns, bromeliads and orchids that grow on tree trunks.
The Park has an extension of 6506 hectares. It has an information centre, marked trails, excursion areas, picnic zones, an exhibition room and rest room facilities. Entry cost 7 dollars.
It is located on the Cordillera Volcanica Central, 37 kilometres North of Alajuela.

National Park Juan Castro Blanco: A diverse vegetation, a prodigious fauna, areas with volcanic activity and the riverhead of several great rivers, are some of the things that this marvellous natural area possesses in its 14000 hectares, created to protect zones of the Primary and Secondary Forests, located between 700 and 2226 meters over sea level.
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    This park has 44 species of amphibians, 107 species of birds, and 30 species of mammals; 64 of these species in danger of extinction in Costa Rica. The more common animals are: arlequin or woodpecker, zacate or kikuyu grass frogs, bats, quetzals, tapirs and coyotes.
    The vegetation of the zone is widely diversified. Approximately 60% of the park is covered by primary forests - being the oak tree and the quizarra of the laurel family, the more abundant species - that intermingles with a rain forest that surrounds Mount Platanar (2,183 meters over sea level).
    A great quantity of epiphytes plants grows in the high lands. These plants are typical of the cold, windy and humid microclimates.
    Beyond the great variety of flora and fauna, the zone is rich in hydro resources, because of the important rivers that are born and flow thru it, like the Platanar, Toro, Aguas Zarcas, Tres Amigos and La Vieja. The active volcano Platanar is located inside the park, as well as other inactive ones like Cerro Viejo and Cerro Pelón. There are also quaternary volcanic cones, alluvial cones and other forms of alluvial sedimentation.
    In the sector of San Jose de la Montaña you can find information offices, trails, drinking water and rest rooms. The entry costs 4 dollars. It is located east of the city of Quesada, in the province of Alajuela.

    National Park Volcan Arenal: The fumaroles and the constant emanations frighten and seduce; and how can you not be - some nights you can see the lava - fiery, incandescent, burning - climbing up the crates and flowing towards the base of this volcanic giant of 1633 meters, emanating gases in its trembling course.
    Simply spectacular! A fantastic lesson in volcanology, a clear sample of the fury of nature; reason enough to put the volcano Arenal as one of the main attractions, not only of Alajuela, but of the entire country.
    During centuries it was believed that the volcano was extinct; but in 1968 it erupted in a tragic and surprising way. Its ignited lava buried the towns of Pueblo Nuevo and Tabacón, causing the death of 87 persons. After that the volcano entered a period of calm that lasted until 1981, when it reinitiated its activity, until now.
    Often the ashes of the craters create a showy panorama that congregates photographers and video recorders; and at night it is easy to see the course of the incandescent lave flowing from the crater towards the base of the volcano.
    The park gives protection to the species of flora and fauna characteristic of the rain forest. About 53% of the birds in the country live in its 12124 hectares, making this park a real paradise for bird watchers. It also counts with 35 fish species, 135 species of reptiles including tortoises, serpents, and a great variety of mammals like deer, jaguar, tapir and clawless otter puma or and white-faced capuchin monkeys.
    Another very interesting place is Lake El Arenal - the largest of Costa Rica. The undulating silhouettes of the mountains surround it; its waters give life to pastures and patches of forest. It is always possible to observe the conical presence of the volcano nearby.
    The lake was artificially created in 1974 in order to produce electrical energy. It has evolved into a wonderful natural space, where it is possible to observe an interesting variety of migratory and resident birds.
    That is not all; because of its constant and strong winds, this zone is a windsurfers' paradise, probably one of the world's best for practicing this sport. Another wide spread activity is fishing for Jaguar cichlids or guapotes and rainbow bass.
    Created in 1991, the park is located north of the Sierra de Tilarán. It has an extension of more than 2000 hectares in the region of Tilarán, San Carlos and San Ramon.



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