Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

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Think "volcano" and you'll probably picture Arenal, an impressive cone that towers above the flat plains stretched out below and remains active, spewing volcanic ash, clouds and even lava from its crater 5,300 feet above the ground.

Arenal is thought to be a relatively young volcano, at about 7,500 years old and for the past several hundred years it was dormant, until one day in 1968, it suddenly erupted violently, shooting enormous boulders more than a kilometer through the air, and leveled three small towns that had been built at its base, killing almost 90 people and many a head of cattle. On the opposite side of the volcano, a small town called El Borio was left unscathed, and in the aftermath, was renamed La Fortuna, or "the lucky one" and still exists today.

In fact, La Fortuna is the best base from which to explore Arenal. From the town's main street, you can see Arenal rising from the flatlands and reaching toward the heavens, often with its peak hidden in the clouds. La Fortuna has an endless selection of restaurants and hotels to cater to any taste, and some fun bars for those who don't like to get to bed on time.

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