Hike To The Extreme
There are two areas to enter into Cerro Chato, one is located by driving North around the arenal volcano on Route 142, the other is South on route 702, entering by the Green Lagoon. We opted to enter on the North side of Cerro Chato and we got way more than we had bargained for.
The saying for the day ended up being ‘only 500 more metres”! Well – 6 hours later, we must have said that 200 times. There were many points in the hike I honestly did not think we were going to make it.
The hike up to the top of Cerro Chato is technically closed but the guy at the park entrance told us we could probably make it if we really wanted to and that it was a very difficult hike. About 6kms of hard hiking, the last 500m is at a 40 degree angle up and then you descend down into the crater of the volcano which is now a small lake called the Green Lagoon.
You can see by the photos above that it started out as a pretty normal hike! Then there were two arrows, one called ‘lava’ which was a nice 4km loop back to the park entrance but we decided to follow the “volcano view” sign! Off we went and for about 3 hours it was super hard but manageable.
Then after that things just got insane, it was honestly like rock climbing. Covered in mud. Covered in sweat. Legs shaking. Swinging on branches like monkeys. We finally got to the top of the volcano after about 3.5 hours only to find out the trail down to the Green Lagoon was completely washed out. At this point we are exhausted but weren’t about to give up that easily, we had just hiked 3.5 hours! So we checked on google maps and it looked like if we just trekked along the volcano edge we would come to another spot to decend down to the lagoon. So here we go! “Only 500 more metres!” We trekked literally through the jungle just trying to make sure we were inching closer to where google maps said we would hit another trail. Finally, right as we think we’ve maybe made a big mistake and are now just stuck in the middle of the jungle we pop out at a cleared area and see a trail heading down into the volcano. It is the steepest decline I have ever seen, how are we ever going to do this?! Just as we start to descend down into the volcano a heavy fogs rolls in and it starts to rain, click here for a little video. As we are climbing down into the volcano a young couple California starts climbing down behind us. We find out that they came from the South side and it only took them about 2 hours. Together we all make our way down and after about 45 minutes we see the green lagoon below us. Finally!! With all the fog and rain we can only see about 10 feet out into the lagoon, but we made it!
We decide that Wayne and I will go back up with the Califoria couple, go down the South side of the volcano, then they will drive us back arouond to the North side to grab our car (about a 45 minute drive) and we will drive back around to get Mum and Dad. Dad and Mum will take their time getting up since some of the straight rock faces are about as tall as Mum is (not sure if that’s saying much haha). By the time we made it down I felt like my legs were going to give out, I couldn’t even imagine if we had to come out the way we originally went in. But I will say our journey in was way nicer than theirs, we had rivers and were right in the middle of the jungle. Whereas the hike up the South side is through more farm fields and some jungle. Below are pictures of heading down the South side. Click here for a video of some leaf cutter ants carrying purple flowers. It’s crazy how ants can make a pathway so defined through vegetation. They’re just ants!
By the time we made it back to our car its about 4:45pm and starting to get dark (we started at 10am), the park entrance ranger can not believe that we hiked literally up, into and back down the other side of the volcano! Driving like a speed racer we make it to the South side of the volcano and find Mum and Dad walking down the side of the road back into La Fortuna.
Together again! Below is a picture of a map. You can see Cerro Chato and the lake within the volcano.
Until next time!