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Costa Rica part three and four

Thursday, July 14, 2005

After two weeks of exploring Costa Rica and thinking about the lecture he was to deliver at the University of Costa Rica, we join Ben again on his way back from Torteguero on the Caribbean coast to San José.

The crew made a detour to the little banana village of Amelia. It just happened to be carnival day and Ben joined in some of the activities before hitting the road again.

One of the things he couldn't miss seeing was the 1600-metre Arenal volcano, one of Central America's most spectacular natural wonders. It has been active every day since bursting onto the scene in 1968. Before its original eruption there were 10 hours of earthquakes in the area, so local residents don't panic at small eruptions! It has claimed more than 100 lives since 1968, but is safe to visit if you heed the signage.

It glows hot red and orange in the night and sends lava in the form of blocks flowing down it sides. Nearby Tabacon hot springs has warm geothermal pools and there is a range of accommodation a safe distance away from the volcano.

Now harbouring a deep interest in volcanoes, Ben headed to explore the 2704-metre Poas Volcano, 50 minutes north of San José, in 6500 hectares of national park. It was active well before records began in 1828 and its summit has a number of explosion craters, one containing a lake of steaming sulphurous water. Its occasional violent explosions have left the surroundings with no vegetation but covered in ash.

Right now it is a bubbling, steaming cauldron and because of its toxic fumes, visitors are limited to viewing it from the top. Of course Ben was able to convince the ranger to supply him with a mask and became the only visitor ever allowed to descend to the crater's floor.

When Ben was there the water was 45¢ªC but experts say that when the lake evaporates it will reach 800¢ªC and then it will provide the big bang.

Not far from Poas is a dwarf cloud forest. There are bromeliads, lichens and mosses clinging to distorted and twisted trees surviving in the volcanic soil. Beautiful hummingbirds, mountain robins, brown hays and the magnificent quetzal can also be seen there.

But then it was back to reality and on to the University of Costa Rica in San José where Ben delivered his Secrets of Making Good Television lecture. Students there are no doubt conjuring up mad-cap escapades synonymous with Ben to put into practice in Costa Rica!


Costa Rica is in Central America.


Tucan Travel has nine-day Nature Trails Adventure Tours from San José, including twin-share accommodation, transport, tour leader and entry fees for $840 per person.

Flight Centre has return economy airfares to San José on sale until December 9, 2005 and valid for travel between November 1 to December 9, 2005, dependent on city of departure. Prices, including taxes, start at:
  • Sydney $2315
  • Melbourne $2393
  • Brisbane $2396
  • Adelaide $2571
  • Perth $2751
    To book call Flight Centre on 131 600

    Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

    More information

    Tucan Travel Pty Ltd
    217 Alison Road
    Randwick NSW 2031
    Ph: 1300 135 088, (02) 9326 6633
    Fax: (02) 9326 5993
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