Irazu is an active complex shield volcano and the highest active volcano in Costa Rica, standing 11,260 ft (3,432m) above sea level.
Irazu is a fairly quiet volcano that has turned into a tourist attraction. While it has erupted twenty-three times since 1723 with large explosive and pyroclastic flows, it is now a part of the Irazu Volcano National Park – a conservation and reforestation initiative in the Cartago Province.
When visiting the park, most people find the summit shrouded in clouds and dense fog, due to the high altitude. It is a popular spot to visit year-round and even better when you can see more than a few meters ahead of you.
Irazu Volcano Uncensored
I am a nerd when it comes to nature and some of the remarkable things this planet has shown me. I began the two hour trip to Irazu with my GPS, fully charged camera, and shorts. With each turn, the mountain yielded views of thick cloud cover and dense fog – ingredients that don’t make for great pictures. No more than 15 minutes after arriving at the summit, the cloud cover broke and gave way to a cold and sunny day.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW, NOW YOU KNOW…
There is a pretty significant temperature change as you ascent up the volcano. San Jose was 30C (86F) and the summit was 10C (51F). I was wearing shorts – not my smartest moment.
Even though Irazu is a part of Costa Rica’s national parks, it is an active volcano. When you arrive, they make you back in your car for quick escapes should the volcano awaken from its (temporary) sleep. There were many railings, sidewalks, and signs which had scars from falling debris during past eruptions.
In every direction, the views were amazing and humbling. The ability to stand on the edge of something so powerful and destructive gives you a sense of how significant this planet is and how insignificant humans are. Irazu last erupted in 1994 and has been relatively quiet since.