It was one of those spectacular mornings: rays of sun on our faces and a blue sky.
Since we knew that our legs would be put to the test, we first headed for a delicious gallo pinto in a traditional restaurant, or soda, in Barva de Heredia.
After refueling ourselves, we filled up the car’s tank as well and were ready for a unique experience.
Around 9 in the morning, we began to head up towards San José de la Montaña, after which we passed through Paso Llano and then the community of Sacramento, after which we arrived at the main entrance of Barva Volcano Park.
Remember that it is better to come with a 4×4 vehicle, since there is a stretch of dirt road that is not in very good shape – but that’s part of the adventure as well.
All signs seemed to indicate that we would have to leave the car in a parking area a few kilometers before the park entrance, since the road was getting a little hairy. But the adventure was just what we needed – laughing and excited to see more of the country, we were able to make it.
Elevation: 2,906 meters above sea level
We began the hike and decided to take the Cacho de Venado trail. But if you prefer, you can also go along the main trail that will also take you to the crossing between Barva and Copey lakes.
We made the right decision: the dense forest had a mystic quality that we loved. We also passed over wooden bridges and under fallen trees, so take care to make sure you remain safe on the trail
Have you ever wondered where the Pacific and Atlantic sides of Costa Rica meet? Even if you haven’t, this place has the answer for you: a sign along the trail marks the border between the country’s two watersheds. Impressive!
The trail extends for 3 km from the park gates to Barva Lake, the volcano’s crater. If you want to go up to the lookout point to see it from up top, you’ll have to climb 200 m of steps – so take a deep breath and start the climb!
Once we reached the lookout, we stayed there another 20 minutes to appreciate the marvelous view and take a few photos and videos. We won’t lie to you: we were also quite hungry, so we took a break to enjoy the fruits and nuts that we had brought with us. You should also take some snacks along if you do a hike like this one.
Third-highest volcano in the country
Breathing in such fresh air and feeling a breeze on our faces was undoubtedly the best reward we could have had after climbing up this colossus of the Central Volcanic Range. By the way, it’s the third-highest volcano in the country, right after the Irazú (3,432 meters above sea level) and Turrialba (3,340 meters) volcanoes.
After the lookout, we headed down to the lake, which is 70 meters in diameter and about 8 meters deep. The water was frigid, even though the day was sunny. So don’t let your jacket too far out of your sight, since you’ll need it at some point.
We didn’t get to the Copey Lake area, but if you want to extend the adventure, the lake is 2.5 km from the trailhead. That lake is a little smaller, at 40 m in diameter.
Heading down on the way back was a little easier, meaning that we could enjoy the beautiful natural scenery that surrounded us.
Keep in mind that the path from the park entrance to Copey Lake is around 5.3 km, meaning that you will have to walk over 10 km of slopes, dirt paths and stairs. Prepare yourself so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. We had a great day, and we hope that you will enjoy these sights very soon.
Everything you need to know
Hours of operation: Every day between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., including holidays.
Admission: ¢1000 for Costa Rican citizens and residents aged 13 and up. ¢500 for children of citizens and residents (aged 2-12). Foreigners pay $12, or $5 for children.
Trails: Cacho Venado, Laguna Barva, Copey and Mirador Vara Blanca.
Duration: 2 hours to Barva Lake (there and back). 3 hours (there and back) to Copey Lake.
Services: Water, restrooms, park rangers, information kiosk.
Contact: (506) 2266-1892 / (506) 2266-1883.
What should I take? Comfortable clothing (leggings for the cold), jacket or raincoat, hiking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, snacks, water, camera and plenty of enthusiasm.