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Ways to Experience Cerro Chato (Chato Volcano)
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All reviews green lagoon challenging hike observatory lodge tree roots la fortuna bring lots of water hiking boots great hike start early trail head hiking experience entrance fee decent shape tennis shoes four hours heavy rain costa rica
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Reviewed September 17, 2018

First of all, you can absolutely do it, the so-called government fences never has anything on it that say you cannot enter. And the guy in the Green Lagoon hotel told us exactly the same thing - yes you can go.

I started the hike from Green Lagoon. The taxi fare I got from the center of Fortuna is 3000 Colones, which I believe is very fair. The green Lagoon is also a neat hotel to hang around and see some birds. Upon arrival, if you go inside the hotel lobby, they charge you 10$ for entrance fee to the National park. 10$ is fair until you figure out they do nothing on the trail. The trail is doable but in very bad shape, so apparently the 10$ disappears from your wallet for no obvious reason other than they demand it.
The trail is about 2 to 2.5km long, maybe 500-600 meters elevation gain, which is not that bad. But the trail itself requires a lot of scrambling and had bad footing so you are prone to hit something or hurt yourself if you are not careful.
When I reached the top, there is no obvious viewpoint. I simply had to descend on the more ridiculous "trail" to get to the lake. The lake is nice but like I said you only get to see it when you are by it, not from the top of the trail, which leaves you only half the fun.

All in all, I left from Green Lagoon feeling the half day is not spent well.

2  Thank Alexoz02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2018

We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teenagers (11 & 15 y/o). I read the reviews and everyone insisted that we can do it, so we decided to, maybe not thinking it was as bad as it was. It was hard, the terrain is not easy, there are times when you are scrambling trying to figure out how to get up or down. We got our butts beat by this volcano lol, we came out with bruises, scratches and mud everywhere, but it was so worth it. It brought us closer as a family, like we worked together to survive this lol.
AND we can say we climbed up a volcano and inside of it into the crater lake. It was cloudy when we got to the top, but cleared up after a few minutes and we were able to see how beautiful it is. So worth it. Go early, it took us 6 hours and we were scared it was going to get dark on us, so we felt rushed. Take lots of water, we should've taken more than 2 bottles per person, at least 3 or 4. It is "closed", but you can get around the fence and there were a couple of others out there being as crazy as us. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, do it!!!

4  Thank Christina3737
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2018

Read all the reviews from people about being able to go around the fence when coming from the arenal lodge observatory. Unfortunately they have further barricaded off the trail entrance with multiple rows of barbed wire. At the fence and the w arning sign there is a row of barbed wire which goes about 4 feet high. Then there is another row of barbed wire closer to the trail that you walk to get there. I'm sure if you walk far enough in there must be a way around the barbed wire, but i walked around it pretty extensively and couldn't tell. All that said, we were still going to climb the barbed wire but there were workers out at that time putting up more barbed wire. Not sure exactly where but it looked like further up the trail. Even the gate worker that gave us the map told us a number of times that we couldn't do it. Hope that others have better luck than we did, but I wouldn't count on it.

Thank joecisdrlove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 20, 2018

We took the route through Arenal Observatory Lodge, paid the 12 USD admission fee per person and asked the gate guard for a map and any pointers for the Cerro Chato climb. We had to be specific that we understood it was closed and off their grounds. His advice was to go carefully and watch for snakes. It had rained heavily the night before and the climb was slick and the going was tough, mainly through washed-out channels between tree root structures. It took us four hours round-trip from the first fence you encounter a few yards in from the trailhead. When you get to the rim of Cerro Chato, as other people have noted, the descent down to the water is much steeper and borderline dangerous. My girlfriend stayed about two thirds of the way up with our pack as I scrambled down the last little bit. We are both 28 and in good shape with a fair amount of hiking experience, but I think anyone in average condition could do this hike if they really want it. Be advised that there is a fence right near they trailhead and then two more very close together about a third of the way up to the rim.

1  Thank sailorrob12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2018 via mobile

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to do it, i suggest you believe in yourself and go for it! It’s the most amazing feeling to get all the way up to the top. Yes it’s hard, but everything in life that’s worth it is! It’s very much like doing a mix of the stair master from hell and a little bit of rock climbing.. there are roots everywhere where you can easily get a grip to hoist yourself up! My suggestion: take a second to look up and see where you’re going, there’s always an easy way and a harder one! Take the easy way, stop as much as you have to. Once you make it all the way up you feel such completion and accomplishment. The way down the rim is a bit harder, but once you make it you’re rewarded with the most beautiful swim of your life. It’s easily (from the Arenal Observatory Lodge) a 10k hike there and back but the blood, sweat, tears and 6,000 colones are definitely worth it! Bring a poncho and some good shoes, we got caught in the rain on the way down and trust me you want to be prepared when the rain water is gushing down on you and down the volcano.

3  Thank Jessica W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 11, 2018 via mobile

10 May 2018
Recommend doing on a clear day for best hiking and views of Arenal. Start by driving to the gate of the Arenal Observatory Lodge. There you will pay an entrance fee of $12 per person and will be given a map (we told the guy at the gate we were going to Cerro Chato and he traced out the path we should take). Follow the directions the person at the gate gives you and you will come to the beginning of the hike. The way is blocked with a short (5ft wide) barbed wire fence but all you need to do is go around it. The trail will progress up and will be obvious as the trail is moderately trafficked. Trail is not officially maintained so at times requires mobility and athleticism but the hardest part is the elevation climb and distance. My wife and I attempted to descend into the bowl of the volcano but the way is steep and muddy and in my opinion not worth the trouble.

1  Thank Mike S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2018

Since last year, you’re not allowed to go up to the top of the volcano anymore and in our tour (Jungle Tours), we only walked around the park. I don’t know if you can do another trail than the one we have done, but it was not worth the entrance fee, better to the Arenal volcano.

1  Thank Bianca M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2018 via mobile

This is definitely a rugged and challenging hike. My BF and I are both in good shape regular gym goes and we loved the challenge. We hiked all the way down to the lake and back out. I was not feeling well the day we went so I slowed us down a little, it took us about 5 hours to complete. The hike to the rim I would not say is dangerous just tiring- Imagine getting in a stair stepper for 2 hours. The rim to the lake front was the most difficult part fortunately the base rock is porus and provides decent grip. it rained most of our hike and the top was a giant cloud when we got there ao we didnt have much of a view. We couldn’t see the green of the water. It was very foggy most of our hike. We have climbed other mountains but have never had a hike like this before. Very cool experience and worth it for us even with the rain.

2  Thank K H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2018

We decided to climb the Cerro Chato on the side of La Fortuna. You start the walk on the private property of the Green Lagoon Arenal hotel. You have to pay at the reception.
There, we got a strange explanation that "when you leave their private property and enter the national park, you will see a sign and you have to decide if you want to continue".

When we arrived there, we saw that the National Park is closed from this side. We still continued, but the trail is in a very poor condition. We hiked for more than 1hr until it was not safe to continue anymore (due to the rain and mud). The trail is quite nice but very challenging.

I think the trail on the side of Lake Arenal is better and safer to visit.

Thank Peter V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 18, 2018 via mobile

This was a great hike. Paid $10 usd from the local resort for entrance. It took 2 hrs to climb and another 2 hrs to descend. The trail isn't really a trail. It's a path you climb, jump and grab on for dear life. Definitely strenuous but doable. It was great fun.

Thank Rouella R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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