One of Costa Rica’s most known tourist attractions is the Arenal Volcano due to its impressive size and beauty. But not many know about the smaller, equally gorgeous Cerro Chato which is located right next to Arenal. Hiking up to Cerro Chato is probably one of Costa Rica’s more challenging experiences – but it is most definitely worthwhile!
This dormant volcano is located to the west of a small but lovely town called La Fortuna. Although roads to La Fortuna, Alajuela are pretty decent, you might run into some dirt roads. So 4×4’s are recommended.
There are two different ways to access. The first way, which is usually the most recommended due to its scenic views, it through the Arenal Observatory. Here you will also be able to walk through a hanging bridge and visit a small waterfall on the way. The second way to access is through the Green Lagoon Lodge’s trails. Regardless of which way you decide to hike up, it will usually take you about 2 hours or so depending on your speed.
Hiking up Cerro Chato is definitely defying and not for anyone who is simply just looking to get some exercise. The trail has many characteristics which only a fairly experienced hiker could withstand For example the trail itself is pretty narrow and steep, so you literally have to keep yourself from falling by hanging on to tree roots. The ground is also very slippery due to clay, so visitors need to be very careful to avoid injuries.
The best part about hiking all the way up to Cerro Chato is the absolutely jaw-dropping scenic views you will experience. Once you are at the highest point (which is about 3700 feet) you will also get incredible views of the crater lake and its gorgeous green lagoon.
If you are planning a visit to Cerro Chato, make sure you visit during the dry season, as it makes the hike lighter and more enjoyable. Also, make sure to bring the right gear such as good hiking boots, trekking poles, insect repellent and lots of water to stay hydrated!
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