Tours San Jose Costa Rica
Irazu Volcano Day Trip to National Park
I took a tour south of San Jose, Costa Rica to see Irazu Volcano. The tours picked up from the Adventure Inn, the hotel where I stayed. The pictures below are part of a Costarica day tour via Cartago CR farms. I took several such day trips, including a tour to see coffee beans growing on a coffee plantation on the way to Poas, north of San Jose.
Here are my pictures of Irazu, the lagoon and the crater lake.
Irazu Costa Rica National Park Sign ~ Costa Rica's Highest Volcano
At the park entrance, this sign showed the paths and roadways leading to Irazu crater.
Microwave towers stood at the highest point (11 200 feet), and though the access road was in rough shape, our driver managed to navigate to the top.
Our guide wanted us to get to this vantage point so we could see across the crystalline air to Volcan Turrialba, just to the south, a view that is blocked from the Irazu lookout below.
Sure enough, from the microwave tower parking lot, we could see wisps of smoke coming from Turrialba; this active volcano had begun spewing ash and rock a few weeks before my visit, so nearby residents had been evacuated, and the road to Turrialba closed to traffic.
Day tours San Jose Costa Rica visitors admire views of Irazu Volcano crater.
From the boardwalk around the visitor area, visitors (including a French-speaking group from Quebec, Canada) admired the views across and down into the crater.
Coming from sea level at Punta Leona the day before, as I had, then staying at San Jose (altitude 1,161 meters / 3800 feet) for a night, then going to this much higher altitude was literally breathtaking!
Walk too fast, and I could feel the thinness of the air. Stop and breath for a minute or two, and slowly stroll, and it didn't seem to be so bad.
Tours stop at the top for about an hour, though self-drivers could stay as little or as long as they like.
Crater Rim Boardwalk at Irazu National Park Tour San Jose CR
Wide expanse of volcanic ash makes a valley around the rim of Irazu crater; Tour groups can walk the distance, and go right down to this lagoon in the picture.
I opted to stay on the boardwalk overlooking the crater with its own green lake far below.
There's also a coffee shop area, a separate building with restrooms, and an outdoor eating area with picnic tables.
Irazu Lagoon Day Tour Visitors Get Close up View Atop Volcano
At the top of Irazu, there is not a lot of vegetation, other than these sedge-like grasses faded to a pale wheat color and some patches of gunnera (picture of gunnera in Chile). The lagoon appeared to be very shallow.
Though the day was sunny, the air at this altitude was very chilly, and most visitors wore a light jacket or heavy sweater.
An ambulance was parked near the rest area coffee / souvenir shop, just in case anyone had breathing or health problems while they were up here.
Most of this park visitors area was wheelchair accessible, with gentle grades, and a wide, firm boardwalk. (See my blog post for another view of the boardwalk.)
Tours go to from San Jose to Costa Rica's Highest Volcano, Irazu
Small Lake inside Irazu crater is green, colored by dissolved minerals eroding from the crater sides.
I saw a similarly green lagoon in the Chile Lake District, also volcanic territory.
I took this photo of the lake, several hundred feet below the boardwalk, using my telephoto lens, and lost some of the detail.
Good thing I did: the Crater Lake has disappeared as of May 2010. This happened in 1991, due to El Nino. The water did come back.
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