I was needing an environmental recharge with the lack of global action on climate change and the problems with pollution in our air and oceans. So with such good news over its renewable credentials and reputation as an eco tourist spot we decided to test out the hype over Costa Rica. Costa Rica hosts more than 5 percent of the world's biodiversity on its 25% of protected areas and 52% of forest cover. With a mix of hydro, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar power, it generates around 100% of the energy it needs using renewables.
We arrived in the city of San Jose and first impression was that it was clean but still a fairly standard South/Central American capital city. Long way to go yet though and will spend the next month exploring the four corners of this eco powerhouse. We didn't intend to spend a lot of time in cities so after checking out our options we found there was a volcano close enough for an easy day trip.
|Pre-Columbian Stone Sphere|
|The scene when we first arrived|
Volcano Irazu was an easy public bus ride that only left twice a day and came back twice a day. We caught the morning bus which took two hours on a fairly miserable wet foggy day. We arrived at the ticket booth in cloudy rainy weather and were given the option of staying there for two hours and save the $15 entrance fee. We were told it would be unlikely we would see anything. That option was very unappealing as the area didn't even have cover and we would be sitting out in the cold for two hours doing nothing, so we paid our money and went in.
Next choice was whether to go to the lookout at the volcano's highest point or have a close up look at the caldera. We decided on the caldera and started walking. Covered in cloud we were unable to make out anything significant but consoled ourselves that at least we were out and stretching our legs after the 36 hours on planes getting here. We continued following the track when over the course of about 15 minutes the fog almost completely lifted, the sun came out and we were delighted to find there was an actual volcano just below us, complete with lake in the caldera. It was an amazing view. We were gobsmacked at our good luck.
|Inside the crater once the fog lifted|
We then took the lookout track to the high point at around 3,500m. It was a hard uphill slog, especially as my altitude issues started to kick in. Well worth the headache I had for the rest of the day with wide sweeping views over the volcano and the surrounding countryside. We also made it down and caught the public bus on time to make it back to San Jose. Well done Costa Rica, this is a good start. Well organised cheap public transport, clean air with amazing views, accessible volcano and virtually no rubbish. I am feeling pretty confident about the next month...