Mirador El Silencio: Wild Jungle and Arenal Volcano Views

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.

Mirador El Silencio Hike

Location

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.

The Reserve

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.

Glass Wing Butterfly Mirador El Silencio
A beautiful glass wing butterfly

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.

Trail Map Mirador El Silencio

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.

Challenging hike El Silencio La Fortuna
Los Sainos Trail – a more challenging hike

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

Overview

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.

Upper Parking Near Volcano
The parking area closer to the base of the volcano

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.

Lava Fields Trail
Near the lookout on the Lava Fields Trail

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. 

Viewpoint Arenal Volcano
The closest view of Arenal Volcano is from this point on the Lava Fields Trail

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.

Green Lagoon View
The green lagoon

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.  

Tarantula Arenal
A tarantula hiding in the ground

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.

Huge tree Mirador El Silencio
A huge tree, climbing towards the sun

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

Hours

Mirador El Silencio is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Cost

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.

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.

Accessibility

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. 

Easier Hiking Trail Mirador El Silencio
Trail 1 – the Spider Trail

Conclusion

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!

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.  

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Ecotermales Hot Springs
Ecotermales: A Small, Upscale Hot Springs Resort in Arenal
Butterfly Bogarin Trail
Sloths, Birds, and More: The Bogarin Trail in La Fortuna
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