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The Irazú Volcano is an active stratovolcano and is the highest volcano of Costa Rica (3432 m). It is located in the Cartago Province, and on a clear day it is said that one can see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.

Barbilla Corcovado Carara Barra Honda Barra Honda Brauillio Carriollo Brauillio Carrillo Cahuita Cahuita Carara Chirripo Chirripo Corcovado Diria Diria Guanacaste Guanacaste Irazu Volcano Isla del Coco Juan Castro Blanco Juan Castro Blanco Isla del Coco La Amistad La Amistad Irazu Volcano La Cangreja La Cangreja Los Quetzales Los Quetzales Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio Marino Ballena Marino Ballena Marino Las Baulas Marino Las Baulas Palo Verde Santa Rosa Piedras Blancas Tanpanti Turrialba Volcano Poas Volcano Tenorio Volcano Ricon del la Vieja Tortuguero Palo Verde Santa Rosa Tanpanti Piedras Blancas Tenorio Volcano Poas Volcano Tortuguero Rincon de la Vieja Turrialba Volcano

click here to View Irazu Picture Gallery

The Irazú massif has three structures: the active crater of 1 km (0.62 miles) in diameter and 180 m dept that has a lagoon inside. Then the Diego de la Haya crater is smaller and located northward. This crater was named in honor of the Governor Diego de la Haya who described the eruption of the volcano in 1723. Then a plane area called Playa Hermosa corresponds to the remnants of a terrace. 

The Irazú Volcano has been active for long time with strombolian eruptions (moderate bursts of expanding gases that eject clots of incandescent lava in cyclical or nearly continuous small eruptions) or fumaroles. Its name comes from an indigenous town located in the foothill of the volcano called Istarú that means “hill of the terror and the thunder”. The name was later modified to Irazú. One of the more memorable eruptions of the Irazú occurred from 1963 to 1965. The eruption started between January and February of 1963, and the volcano remained active and with columns of ashes until March of 1965. It was calculated that for December of 1963 about three tons of ashes had fallen all over the Central Valley. The ashes reached San José on the day John F. Kennedy visited Costa Rica, on March of 1963.  The most recent activity of the Irazú Volcano was in 1994, which caused several avalanches. It seems that the structure of the Irazú volcano is very fragile, and this volcano has been catalogued as one of the main volcanic threats for the capital.

The national park that protects the volcano and surrounding areas was created in 1955. The area was devastated in the past eruptions, but some vegetative cover has recovered. The flora includes oaks, several shrubs also found in other volcanoes, and highland species found also in the páramo of Chirripó and Cerro de la Muerte. Birds are also the most common animals and include hummingbirds, warblers and wrens. Mammals are not abundant, but coyotes, rabbits, pumas, and armadillos are occasionally seen. The Irazú National Park also protects the springs that originate the Reventado river that later became the Reventazón river, one of the most important rivers that flow to the Atlantic ocean.

The park has two areas: the craters and Prusia. In the Craters, you will be able to appreciate the Diego de la Haya Crater, part of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, and the main crater. The Prusia sector, has several trails and is good to enjoy with the family. Both areas have a picnic area. The craters sector has also cafeteria, parking, and visitor information.

Sources: Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica;  Chavarría, O. 2005. Costa Rica: Land of Volcanoes. EUNED. 360 p.;  Area de Conservación Cordillera Volcánica Central;  Boza, M. 1981. Los Parques Nacionales de Costa Rica. Incafo. 310 p.

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