Arenal Observatory Lodge

Old Jul 28th, 2002, 07:14 AM
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Arenal Observatory Lodge


We have booked for a Smithsonian Observatory Room at the Arenal Observatory Lodge because I wanted to be as close to the volcano as possible and thougt that I could watch the lava from my bed at night. But now I read it is not on the lava side, so I am a bit disappointed.
So can anyone tell me if it is easy to drive from the Obs. Lodge to the lava side when it is dark? And will we know while staying at the Obs. Lodge when the lava is showing (is there a message given or something like that?)
So I am thinking of canceling it (if that is still possible for free) and go to another place. But on the other hand since it is September maybe the volcano isn't vissible at all and we better stay in this place since I have read that Tabacon is really touristy and Arenal Lodge is more basic? And the Obs. Lodge has a nice setting so it is easier to hike from the Lodge and see wildlife and birds(??).
So I really need some advice: are there any reasons why I should stay in the Obs. Lodge or are there reasons why I should think of cancelling my reservation and look for another place to stay?
Old Jul 30th, 2002, 04:22 AM
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Dear Maud, We just got back from Costa Rica and did not stay at the observatory lodge but did drive there to go hiking and see the volcano closer.The road going to the lodge is very bad. I believe there are morning hikes, guided, with no charge, and while we were there we saw a night lava hike posted and I heard the man at the desk say that if there is no chance of a lava flow they do not go. You might want to e-mail the hotel to verify they offer the night hike when you are there. It was rainy andcloudy the whole two days we were there so we did not see much. We did go on some hikes at the lodge. We looked at a room at Tabacon which was supposed to have a great view of the volcano, but we ended up at Montana de Fuegoand I know that our cabin there had a much better view. It was very cosy, kind of like the cabins at the national parks. It had its own little porch with rocking chairs, and a table and regular chairs.The hot springs at Tabacon are not to be missed. Be prepared for the rainy season weather. Any other questions let me know. Have a wonderful time. Karen
Old Aug 7th, 2002, 06:50 PM
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Hi Maud,
We stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge last year. The grounds are absolutely stunning, there are a lot of trails and opportunities for wildlife and bird watching. We loved it & I would stay there again. We didn't see the volcano because it was fogged in for the 2 days we were there. But even though we didn't see the volcano, there were so many reasons to be there, and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the solitude and the lack of tourists.

To see the lava flow, you need to leave the hotel and go to the main road & at that intersection is a small station called "policia rural". The officer on duty was able to show me the lava flow during the day! The road is a little rough, you'll have to be careful of the potholes at night.



Old Aug 8th, 2002, 01:23 PM
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We stayed in a Smithsonian Observatory Room, and I would highly recommend it. Each room has a huge picture window with a spectacular view of Arenal (weather permitting!). The Smithsonian rooms are removed from the rest of the lodge by a couple of hundred meters, so it feels quite tranquil. As for the lava, it is true that you won't see it from this particular vantage point, but I don't know what you are expecting. This is not a Hawaiian-style volcano, where fluid lava gushes downslope. The lavas here are much more viscous and chunky, so only ooze forward very slowly. You would see a blotch of red-glowing stuff up high on the volcano, which is not terribly impressive. As noted above, it would be better to take a guided walk up toward the active lava flows, if the weather is good. There is a fine guided walk that you can take from near the entrance to the observatory to one of the recent cooled-over flows.
Old Aug 18th, 2002, 07:07 PM
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My husband and I stayed at the Observatory and loved it! It's true, you can't see lava flows from your bed. However, you can see the top of the volcano glowing red at night. The glow from the summit moves and undulates. It was so peaceful sitting in front of the plate glass window in our room at night watching the volcano, trying to pin point the different craters. (Easier done at night). There is no messaging system for letting you know which side of the mountain lava is flowing on. I agree with previous posts that the largest determiner of your view of the volcano will be the fog. The best views of lava flows that we saw were while driving from La Fortuna back to the Observatory around 8:00 at night after an early evening of souvenier shopping.
The Observtory feels more like a nature preserve than a hotel. It is rustic and very charming. No TVs, clocks or telephones in the rooms. We found all of the staff, including guides, be very nice and helpful. I can't say enough good things about the Observatory and their staff.
Old Aug 24th, 2002, 08:28 PM
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Dear Maud,
Hi! We just got back from two weeks in Costa Rica. We had not even intended on going to Arenal but at the last minute added two nights at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. It really was beautiful. There is a free morning hike, there was horseback riding for only $7/hour which was wonderful and the skies cleared and we paid to go on the evening Volcano "tour" where we did see red moulton rocks spewing from the top of the volcano. Even if we had not seen the volcano, the location is gorgeous (the rooms are rustic and the food is merely okay) and I would definitely recommend it. Tabocon seemed a little too "Disneyland". Hope that helps!
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 04:59 AM
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Thank you all,

We decided to stay at Arenal Observatory Lodge, it sounds great. I hope we have a great time and that the weather will not be too bad. We leave in two weeks.
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