One of Costa Rica’s most visited national Parks, Irazu Volcano resides east of San Jose and north/northeast of Cartago. The name “Irazu” can be traced back to its indigenous name of “Istarú", which means “Thunder and Earthquake Mountain”,
At 11.260 ft. (3,432 m) above sea level, Irazu volcano has four distinct craters. Its principal and westernmost crater has a diameter of 3,445 ft. (1,050 m) and depth of 984 ft. (300 m), and its second largest crater, “Diego de la Haya”, has a diameter of 2,264 ft. (690 m) and depth of 263 ft. (80 m); the two smaller craters are situated off to the southeast and northwest.
There is virtually no tree growth near the rim of the volcano, the area is very barren and exposed. As well, the wind can be quite strong, particularly during the dry season months (Dec. - April). As a result, the grey earth gets blown around, much like a sandstorm.
Irazu Volcano, like Poas Volcano, tends to cloud up as the day progresses, and this is particularly true during the rainy season. Therefore, we recommend you visit as early as possible, when you’ll have much better luck of seeing the volcano with clear, blue skies.
At 11,260 ft (3,432 m), the temperature near the rim can be surprisingly low, so you might want to bring some long pants and shirts.
Car - depart San Jose heading east along the main road (Avenida 2), towards the communities of San Pedro and Curridabat. Continue straight until you reach the highway (auto-pista) that leads to Cartago, some 4-5 miles (6.5 - 9.5 km) from downtown San Jose. Once on the highway, continue southeast towards Cartago - you’ll need to climb over the hill/ridge that separates Cartago from San Jose. As you descend down the other side, and near the very bottom of the hill, the road will fork. You need to get off the highway at this intersection, and not continue, to the right, on the highway that leads to Cartago. After passing through the intersection, follow the signs that lead to Irazu Volcano. The steep, twisting and turning climb to the summit, which covers 21 miles (35 km), provides terrific panoramic views of the central valley and the neighboring hillsides that surround this magnificent volcano.
Tours - private tour companies offer both half day and full day tours to Irazu Volcano. Normally, full day tours includes a stop at the Lancaster Gardens in Cartago.