Last Updated: March 13, 2023
When hiking Arenal Volcano, you have a lot of different trail options. All go around the base of the impressive volcano, giving you different vantage points. In our opinion, one of the best views of Arenal Volcano is from Mirador El Silencio. This series of easy-to-moderate trails leads to a very high lookout. Here, you feel as though you are standing eye to eye with Arenal’s cone-shaped peak. In this post, we’ll give you all the details to plan your visit to Mirador El Silencio in La Fortuna. We will also include information on booking a guide.
Mirador El Silencio is located outside the town of La Fortuna. This popular tourist destination is famous for the Arenal Volcano. It is about 2.5 hours from Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose.
The entrance to Mirador El Silencio is just 7.5 miles (12 km) from the central park in La Fortuna and only 3 miles (5 km) from Arenal Volcano National Park. It borders the popular 1968 Trail property, which has similar views.
Mirador El Silencio has 550 acres (225 hectares) of protected land. Around 250 acres (100 hectares) of that is considered primary forest. This means the trees are very mature and have never been cut down, making for an awesome jungle experience.
Other parts of the property have secondary forest, which is younger, as well as grassy fields and gardens. The diversity of habitats attracts a lot of wildlife, especially birds and insects.
Mirador El Silencio Hiking Trails
The property has six hiking trails that total about 8.5 miles (14 km). Some of these are easier, while others are more rugged and difficult.
Mirador El Silencio is a good option for those looking for a harder, more authentic hike in the Arenal area.
When arriving at the reception area, the employees can help you decide which trails are best for your group.
We were looking for a somewhat challenging hike, so they told us to use Trail 2 (Sendero los Sainos/Peccary Trail). This one was a narrow, muddy trail that meandered up the steep mountain through a lot of primary forest. The trail is named after sainos/collared peccary. These are wild-boar-like animals that can sometimes be spotted here. They have a strong, pungent smell so keep a lookout for that.
For an easier hike up to the viewpoint, we’d recommend the trails to the right after reception. Trail 1 (Sendero la Araña/Spider Trail) and Trail 4 (Sendero Manantial/Source/Spring Trail) were the ones we came back down on. They were not as steep, and the surrounding forest was still very pretty.
We didn’t get a chance to check out Trail 3 (Sendero El Tabacon/Tabacon Trail), but think it was also an easier option compared to Trail 2. Along this trail, you can see many tabacon plants, common in and around La Fortuna. They are large plants with long, broad, hard leaves.
Trails 5, 6, and 7 are at the top of the hill. We’ll cover them below.
Fantastic Volcano Views
Once you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll start to get some spectacular views of Arenal Volcano. You’ll also realize that there is a parking area up there where people just drive up after paying admission.
This sort of reminded us of the time we hiked Mount Washington in New Hampshire. After lots of effort getting to the top, you see people stepping out of their cars for a quick (sweatless) selfie. But they missed out on some cool wildlife along the trail, right? (See wildlife section, below.)
Tip: It’s not on the map, but to the left of the upper parking area (looking at the volcano) is a grassy road that leads to an even nicer viewpoint. You can see the volcano very clearly (clouds permitting) and in the opposite direction the flat northern plains that eventually lead to Nicaragua.
Lava Fields Trail
Trail 6 (Sendero Lava del 1968/Lava Fields Trail of 1968) is the highlight of Mirador El Silencio Reserve.
This one starts at the right corner of the higher up parking area.
The trail cuts through a farm field and then leads up a steep section with some rustic steps. Here, you get to walk along small rocks that were once tossed out of the volcano’s mouth.
At the end of the trail, you come to a clearing with little vegetation and much larger volcanic rocks.
This is the absolute highest viewpoint on the property and the one that makes you feel like you are staring the volcano right in the face.
From here, you can really see the old lava flows from the biggest eruption that occurred in 1968. After all these years, they still appear as gray streaks down the side of the steep volcano.
Other Interesting Features
From the parking area, you can also check out Trail 7 (Sendero Lago Verde/Green Lake Trail) to the left. This one leads down a hill to a lake. The lake gets the green color from volcanic minerals.
Trail 5 is sort of a mystery to us since we never saw a sign for it. The map says that it leads to a viewpoint where you can see Lake Arenal. Anyway, we still got a distant view of the lake from Trail 6.
Wildlife and Surrounds
On our hike, we saw some interesting wildlife and beautiful forest. First, it was our oldest son who spotted a creepy hole with a tarantula inside.
Later in the hike, we saw a lot of birds called Crested Guans. These are brown and about the size of a turkey but skinnier. They like to stay up in the trees and make a loud call, which echoes through the forest.
The jungle itself was also really impressive, especially on Trail 2. There were giant canopy trees, lush broadleaf plants, ferns, and all kinds of cool flowering and fruiting plants and trees.
Since you are right in the rainforest, you’ll also likely see many interesting insects, and if you’re lucky, some mammals like monkeys. We didn’t get to see any monkeys, but we did hear howler monkeys in the distance.
Planning Your Visit
Mirador El Silencio is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Admission is 5,000 colones per person (about $8). Children under 7 are free.
After hiking, if you want to reenter and drive to the top parking area to see the sunset or have a picnic, just save your bracelet.
See section below.
What to Wear/Bring
There are some sunny areas along the trail so bring a hat and sunscreen. In the thicker, forested parts of the trail, we encountered a lot of mosquitoes, so have repellent handy. There are no amenities so be sure to pack a snack and water.
The hiking trails at Mirador El Silencio are not accessible for wheelchair users; however, the lookout at the top parking area is flat hard-packed dirt/gravel. Here, you can take in the beautiful volcano view. Trail 1 from the reception is also flat and wide for a short distance. It has some beautiful flowers and tropical forest to see.
Booking a Guided Tour of Mirador El Silencio
Although Mirador El Silencio can be done self-guided as the trails are well marked, we recommend going with a guide. There is no visitors’ center or information along the trail so having a good naturalist guide to teach you about the history of the volcano is invaluable. A guide will also teach you about the local flora and fauna you will see. The company that we work with uses local guides that are extremely knowledgeable, professional, and bilingual. Here is some information about their tours:
Group Tour (12 people max): $58 per adult, $29 per child ages 4-11, free for children 3 and under.
Private Tour (only your group): $110 per adult, $55 per child ages 4-11, free for children 3 and under.
Round-trip transportation from your hotel or vacation rental, bilingual naturalist guide, entrance fee, and water.
8:00 – 11:00 a.m. or 2:30 to 5:00 p.m.
3 hours (approximate)
How to Book
Contact us through our Tour Booking Service page or send us an email to bookings(at)twoweeksincostarica(dot)com with your preferred date and time, the number of people in your party (with ages of children), and your hotel or Airbnb location if you would like transportation. We bill through PayPal and don’t charge a markup so the price is the same as if you booked directly through the company. Once your reservation is confirmed, we will send you a confirmation document with all the details.
Mirador El Silencio is a lesser talked about hiking option around Arenal Volcano. If you are looking for a good hike and some spectacular volcano views, we would highly recommend it.
Have a question about visiting Mirador El Silencio? Ask us below!
Last Updated: March 13, 2023
Looking for more information to help you plan your trip? Check out these articles:
Ecotermales: A Small, Upscale Hot Springs Resort in Arenal – These hot springs were just what we needed after hiking up to Mirador El Silencio. Check out this post for details.
Sloths, Birds, and More: The Bogarin Trail in La Fortuna – Looking to see sloths on your trip? This easy trail close to downtown La Fortuna is a good spot to find them. We saw several!
Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park – Nearby is the official national park for Arenal Volcano. These trails give you a slightly different view and there is a newer accessible trail that leads down to the shores of Lake Arenal.