costa rica part 2: volcan arenal, hanging bridges and tropical fruit

here’s part two of my trip report / photo album for the biological excursion to costa rica.

previous parts:


dona christina presents plants from her medicinal garden "la aroma-tica", near la fortuna part two started with a visit to doña christina’s medicinal garden “la aroma-tica”, in la fortuna. on an area of 2.500 square meters, she and her family run a “finca integral” (organic farm) and cultivate tea, herbs, medicinal and pharmaceutic plants.
it’s always fascinating to see what different plants are used for, traditionally and recently – from natural fabric dyes to cancer treatment.

lunchbreak at volcan arenal's lava field of 1992 next up was a hike around different succession stages of vegetation around the arenal volcano – the youngest and most active volcano in costa rica. we didn’t experience any earthquakes or lava flowing, but it was still impressive to walk through an area with large patches completely destroyed as recently as 20 years ago. even more impressive is how the rainforest steadily reclaims these areas.

two notable, very impressive plants we saw along the way:

  • the guarumo tree (cecropia obtusifolia) , also known as the “ant tree”, is host to symbiotic ants, which receive free accommodation inside the hollow stems. in return, the vicious azteca ants (azteca sp.) protect the tree and attack virtually anything.
  • the kapok tree (ceiba pentandra) is a different caliber: it’s one of the giants of the rainforest and grows up to 75 meters high. that’s abut twice as high as most other trees in the rainforest. it forms massive buttress roots for mechanical stability, and is home to many animals and other plants.


arenal hanging bridges the arenal hanging bridges are another destination that you shouldn’t miss when in the area. it’s a private nature reserve with nature trails and 16 bridges (up to 98 meters long), which allow you to experience the part of the rainforest that hosts up to two thirds of the entire rainforest biodiversity: the canopy.

on our way down south, we made a short but very memorable stop at a local fruit stand, and got to try pretty much all the tropical fruits they had in stock: different kinds of mangos, cashew nuts and their edible fruit stalks, malay apples, star apples, soursop, fresh pineapples, sapodilla, passion fruit, …

as usual, german captions and additional info are available in the photo gallery: volcan arenal, hanging bridges and tropical fruit

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