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Arenal Volcano, in Spanish Volcán Arenal, is an active andesitic stratovolcano in north-western Costa Rica around 90 km northwest of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna. The Arenal volcano measures at least 1,633 metres (5,358 ft) high. It is conically shaped with a crater 140 metres (460 ft) in diameter. Geologically, Arenal is considered a young volcano and it is estimated to be less than 7,500 years old.

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Lake Arenal
Lake Arenal

Formed some 7,000 years ago from the adjacent (and now extinct) Chato Volcano, Arenal’s most recent eruptive period began in 1968 with an explosion that buried three small villages and left 87 people dead. Up until July 2010, the eruptions had been constant, though much less severe—there were effusions of smoke and lava on an almost daily basis.

Since 2010, however, the volcano’s seismicity, explosions and lava flows have decreased significantly. It is, scientists assure us, still alive; it’s just sleeping. At present, visitors will be unable to see lava flowing down its sides or find plumes of ash rising from its top.

The activities within this area are endless. Horseback rides can be made through the nearby hills and whitewater rafting can be done on the Peñas Blancas, Toro and Balsa rivers. Each river is different in both intensity and scenery – participants can choose between leisurely safari floats or exciting class IV rapids. A variety of other water sports can be enjoyed on Lake Arenal, including canoeing, fishing and kite surfing. Inland diversions include hiking and waterfall repelling, as well as canopy and hanging bridge tours.

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