As the tallest volcano in Costa Rica standing at 11,260 feet (3,432 meters), Irazu has impressed visitors for years and is one of the most popular national parks in the country. Though no noticeable activity has occurred since the 90’s, that doesn’t mean Irazu has slipped under the radar as it was the centerpiece of the famous Sony ad, spewing millions of flower petals from the crater in their commercial.
If you’re interested in visiting this volcano, here’s our guide to enjoying Irazu Volcano National Park.
Irazu Volcano National Park
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You can rent a car or go with a shuttle/tour company. Since it is a bit further out of the city, it’s not advisable to take a taxi since it’ll be pretty expensive. There is one bus that leaves everyday at 8 AM from Ave 2, Street 1-3 in downtown San Jose, returning at 1 PM. You can also take the public bus from the Cartago bus station.
A Little History First
Irazu Volcano erupted in 1963 and created quite a frenzy as it happened on the same day that then US president John F. Kennedy arrived in Costa Rica.
The park was established not too long before in 1955 to protect the flora and fauna and various ecosystems and biomes that exist in the area. Though the park itself is fairly big expanding 5,705 acres (2,300 hectares), the areas visitors can walk around is not making it an easy hike.
The Two Craters
Irazu Volcano has a few craters with two of them as the main attractions, “Crater principal” (main crater) and the Diego de la Haya.
Both are an easy walk from the entrance. The main crater dips 900 feet (275 meters) down and constantly lets off steam. Diego de la Haya lies 300 feet (91 meters) down and is known for its lake which can change colors from emerald green to red.
Unfortunately since 2014, the lake in Diego de la Haya has dried up. Around both craters it is astonishing to see so much vegetation flourish. Primary, secondary and cloud forest exist in the park area and we saw plenty of trees, poor man’s umbrella plants and yellow flowers here and there.
There is a loop in the park for visitors to walk to both craters but there’s not much to do other than that. Along with a small picnic area, bathroom facilities and visitor center, travelers can spend a couple hours looking at the craters, enjoying the views and spotting wildlife.
Tips for Visiting Irazu Volcano National Park
- Bring a jacket. Since it is in the cloud forest, it gets chilly especially during rainy season. Remember to bring an umbrella or rain jacket in rainy season.
- Bring food and water, there is a snack stand in the visitor center but that’s it for food.
- Try to go early in the morning for the best views.
- Wear closed toed shoes.
- Remember to wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy/cold out, you’re still near the equator in high elevation.
- No accommodations in the park.
- Don’t feed the wildlife and don’t litter.
Park hours: 8AM – 3:30 PM
Entrance fee: 8,000 colones (~$16) for foreigners, 1,000 for locals
Watch our video of the national park here.
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