Last Updated: May 26, 2013
The Iztarú tribe, who lived on the slopes of the volcano, knew it as 'Irazu' meaning ‘thundering mountain’; a fitting name for the volcano that has been erupting for the last 500 years. Irazu last erupted during President John F. Kennedy's visit in1963 spreading ash from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.
Location : Irazu Volcano National Park
Altitude : 11,260 feet above sea level
Hours : 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Entrance Fee : $10
Located in Irazu Volcano National Park, near the city of Cartago, the volcano is made in an irregular subconic shape, broken into five different craters by centuries of eruptions. The main crater (3,445 feet wide) is circular in shape and 984 feet deep. The Diego de La Haya crater—named after Senor Diego de la Haya Fernandez, a Spanish Conquistador who reported volcanic activity here during the 18th Century—is 1,969 feet wide and 328 feet deep. The other craters are Playa Hermosa, La Laguna and El Piroclastico.
It's worth checking the weather before leaving for the volcano as conditions can be different than those in Cartago or San Jose. Bringing a jacket or sweater is advised.
A trail leads from the information center to a lookout point over the craters. Visitors should keep an eye out for high-altitude wildlife such as sooty-capped bush tanagers, the long-nosed Coati and the sooty robin. Generally, the best time to visit is early in the morning, before heavy clouds move in. On a clear day, you can see the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea from the park. Follow the Pan American Highway out of San Jose to reach Irazu Volcano.