Although my husband and I love to hike, we decided to only do the shorter hike to El Mirador, and loved it! We started from El Porvenir hotel where there are great petroglyphs to admire before or after your hike. Here we bought our tickets ($2 each, I think) and started off on the trail.
The initial trail wasn't too steep, but was incredibly rocky so it was slow going. We passed many fields along the way, as I think this trail is also used by locals to get to their farmland. There were blue and red arrows painted occasionally on some of the rocks to help you find your way up, but no other signs. We had no trouble finding our way up without a guide, but did have a little trouble on the way down which wasn't as well marked in places. We didn't see any other hikers the entire trip.
The lower part of the volcano up to El Mirador is less forested, and so most of the hike was in the sun and HOT. Be sure to dress in cool clothes and wear sunscreen. As we neared the end, the trail got progressively steeper. We knew we reached El Mirador when we saw the benches at the viewpoint. It's a great place to relax in the shade, enjoy the view, and rehydrate for the trip back down. The cloud forest starts just above El Mirador, but I believe you are supposed to have a guide to go further up.
All in all, it was about 3-4 hours round trip including our break at the top. We would definitely do it again, as the view alone was worth it!
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