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Day trip to Volcan Poas

usa
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Day trip to Volcan Poas

How safe/easy is it to go on a self arranged trip Volan Poas?

What's the frequency of the buses to the volcano and back?

Do the buses start/stop in safe areas of San Jose?

How safe is walking around in the park itself?

Thanks

Tampa, FL
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1. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

Safe? Absolutely.

Easy? It depends on whether you plan to drive there yourself (or otherwise go by private car) or whether you plan to take the bus. Not only is driving there easy, but in many ways I'd recommend it. If you get an early enough start you can beat the hoards of tourist buses and crowds as well as the clouds. You seem to have the public bus more in mind and there, while it can be done is not all that easy.

Here's what I posted on this subject back in March:

"There's a bus that leaves SJ from Ave. 2 Calle 12/14 (btw, thats directly across from the ruined Merced Church) every day at 8:30am. You gotta get there even earlier (at least during the high season) if you want to get on the bus. It then takes 2 hours to get to the top of the volcano, by which point if the clouds haven't already moved in the crowds have. The return bus to SJ doesn't leave until 2:30PM, leaving you 4 hours to kill there (I find the volcano interesting but not that interesting). Then you get back to SJ around 4:30 having spent a full day doing what would normally be a half day tour or, if a full day tour, one that combines other activities such as a visit to Cafe Britt and/or a visit to La Paz. To be fair the bus will only cost you $4-5 round trip (plus getting to and from the bus stop, park admission and lunch) while an organized tour could cost anywhere between $35-75 (depending on what if any other attractions are included), but IMHO for most people with their limited vacation days being at a premium that could be seen as a very small price to pay."

A review of the latest schedule shows the bus leaves SJ at 8:00 returns at 2PM and only takes 1.5hours (though it leaves Alajuela a half hour later and still is listed at 1.5 hours from there, so take all of these schedules with a grain of salt). If you accept the latter times as true you'd get there an hour earlier, which would be much better but you'd still be stuck there until 2PM and wouldn't get back to SJ until 3:30PM at the earliest, too late to do much else that afternoon.

One other comment, in favor of self-touring Poas, IMHO not going on a guided tour is NOT a drawback at all. First of all, unlike Irazu there is excellent signage and even an information center. Second you don't need a guide to appreciate the beautiful views. Third, after you spend an hour of having the place to yourself to enjoy, the crowds will start to get there and anything you might have missed you can pick up by tagging along behind one of the many tour groups listening to the guide's spiel. Frankly, there really isn't that much to it. You'll see some huge leafed plants that are nicknamed "Sombre de Pobre" or Poorman's Umbrella for their handy use if it starts to pour. You'll see some other plants that are misshapen and stunted by the noxious fumes. You'll be given figures like what the altitude is and when it last erupted. But unless you're a geology student or volcanologist do you really need to know about tectonic plates, the difference between lava and magma, and such stuff that you'll probably forget by the time you get home and can get out of any decent guidebook anyway? After an hour (or two tops if you want to hike to the Botos lake), you'll be ready to move on to your next activity and can beat the traffic jam out of the parking lot.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

Are you looking for just a day trip without an overnight? Keep in mind that you're looking at 3 hours each way by public transport and 4 hours by public bus to/from San Jose to Fortuna. You also might not see much since your best chances for seeing the top of the volcano are at night and early morning, especially in the rainy season (when are you going?), but who knows. If you must do a day trip only, it would be much easier to do an organized daytrip out of San Jose as they'll maximize your time by transporting you to different places. Public bus will take you to Fortuna and then you'll have to arrange to different places around the volcano in order to see it, hike, etc.

If you do want to go by public bus, you can see the schedule here (look for Fortuna):

visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/LEYES/pdf/Iti…

You can take an early morning direct bus there, but if you want to come back after mid-afternoon, you'll have to take a bus to Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos) and then another bus from there back to San Jose. The buses leave from the Coca Cola terminal area of San Jose, an area that's okay if you watch yourself during the day but that should be cabbed to/from at night.

Walking around the Arenal park and being in the vicinity of the Volcano is generally safe in so far as it is well-monitored by the scientific community and has safe zones demarcated. It doesn't stop it from being one of the main tourist draws in the country, but there were to be a cataclysmic eruption without warning, the results would be... well... cataclysmic.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

IGNORE ME. I'm an idiot... I read "Volcan Arenal" :)

Prolijo, whom I crossed paths with while typing my reply, is correctamundo.

Tampa, FL
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4. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

BTW, I assumed you meant safe from crime. It didn't occur to me until now that you might have meant safe from eruption. I think the last time Poas erupted was back in 1952 so I think that makes you pretty safe from any scalding. Just remember to bring sunblock because its is easier to get burned - by the sun - at higher altitudes.

usa
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5. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

Thanks both of you for your replies! The info on Arenal is useful too, since I am researching that area too!

Regards

usa
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6. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

I might go in the "dry" season. Yep -- "safe" was regarding crime

usa
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7. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

"There's a bus that leaves SJ from Ave. 2 Calle 12/14 (btw, thats directly across from the ruined Merced Church) every day at 8:30am. "

Is this a safe area to wait around for the bus? I assume the bus drops us back at this point?

Tampa, FL
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8. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

Now that is an area that safety is defintely a valid issue. Early morning for the trip out to Poas the area should be safe enough. In the afternoon when you get back it should still be early enough that it will be safe enough too. But I wouldn't walk around that area like a dazed tourist with my camera swinging loosely from my neckstrap and my fanny-pack bulging unzipped behind me. That would be like walking around with the tourist equivalent of a kick-me sign on your back. In other words, follow all normal precuations for any foreign urbanized environment. Staying on Avenida 2 is a high traffic, highly visible and fairly safe environment. Wander a few blocks north into the Central Mercado area or south into La Merced and it starts to get not so safe, particularly after it starts to get dark. Do I have you worried? Don't be. You should be perfectly fine.

BTW, depending on where you're staying you could probably have the bus drop you off somewhere along the way into town so you don't have to necessarily go all the way back to the main stop. It comes in by way of Sabana Norte and Paseo Colon. If you're staying the Quality Real on the autopista west of the city, you MIGHT be able to save some time and a little bit of money by getting off early and catching a cab from there, but I'm not sure how much you'd really save.

usa
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9. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

Thanks for the info!

usa
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10. Re: Day trip to Volcan Poas

How much will a taxi from Alajuela to Poas, a few hrs wait at the volcano and back to Alajuela cost?

Are there taxis waiting at Poas enabling us to take a different taxi back?

Thanks