We wanted to see Volcan Poás, but we'd heard that clouds obscure it by noon each day so the best viewing is very early in the morning. We left our lodge at 8:15 and started the 20 minute drive with clouds already creeping over the hills so I was a little worried that we'd already missed it.
A little about parking in Costa Rica:
There seems to be some sort of rule in Costa Rica about backing into parking spaces. And it seems parking attendants have a really strong union, because they are always there gesturing with hand signals how to turn your wheels to get you exactly aligned. Like we don't have mirrors? And don't know how to back in? It's just weird.
When we got to the gate the ranger said the volcano was still visible, so we hurried up the path to the overlook. Even though the elevation is over 8000 feet, we made good time and arrived about 9:00am.
And this is what we saw.
The crater is almost a mile wide and a thousand feet deep and contains a boiling sulphuric lake that frequently shoots up geysers of hot water (phreatic eruptions). This volcano is still active and has had more than a dozen phreatic eruptions since 2014. The lake is the second most acidic lake in the world with a Ph of near zero. It continually emits sulphuric fumes which kill all vegetation directly downwind from the crater.
We had barely been there long enough to take a few photos when the clouds rolled in at 9:12. And just like that, the show was over for the day.
We hung around a while hoping the clouds would part again, but they never did. We talked to one person who had been there three times and never seen the crater, so we felt really lucky to see it for those twelve short minutes.
On the walk back to the Visitor Center we took pictures of flowers...
and goofed around with the Poor Man's Umbrella plant, Gunnera insignis. Their huge leaves were indeed used as umbrellas by the ancient people. We have seen these in Golden Gate Park, but they don't allow you to crawl under them there. Too bad, because it was fun.