This weekend I went on the Irazú Volcano Tour… I have to say that it was such a delight!

As a Costa Rican, I have been in the Irazu Volcano since I was a baby. This volcano had a violent activity period (From 1963 to earlly 1965)  and covered with ashes the whole country, coast to coast, border to border. Our parents and grandparents tell stories about that gray time that can make us tremble, just to think that it can happen again.

With very few casualties though, the volcano bankrupted the country (In those days our economy was based purely in agriculture) and caused a chaos in the 1 million people Costa Rican society of the time.

Now… the Irazu is one of the most beautiful volcanoes that we have, but  more than that, it also has a breathtaking route in. The landscapes you see en route to Irazu happen to be, probably, the most beautiful throughout the Central Valley (If not from the whole country) and it is a great introduction to the history and culture of Costa Rica, being in one of the less touched environments touristically speaking. Or! It can also be a great option for passengers with a late flight to see an area of the country that is hard to see and it is absolutely superb!

Talking about the tour:

Our-microbusI was picked up in San Jose punctually at 7:30 a.m. to go on the ride. The microbus a small Hiace was clean and very comfortable for our group of six.

First thing I noticed as I came in the bus was our guide, Greivin, who introduced himself with a smile, as soon as he came out of the vehicle and then asked me from which area of Costa Rica I was… It seemed a bit odd, but I answered his question. Minutes later, he was introducing every single person in the group with their countries or cities. What a detail! At minute two, I felt comfortable and welcomed in a group of strangers!

He introduced Enrique, our driver and we left for the volcano.

The morning seemed chilly and rainy and I thought to myself that I should have re-scheduled this tour, but oh Well! I was already on the bus when it started to rain and prayed for it not to be that rainy already on the crater (The photographer in me hates to put the camera away for rain!).

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We took the Panamerican Highway all the way to the region or our first capital city Cartago and took a detour through the town of Taras, that, as Greivin said, was destroyed in December 1963, due to avalanches coming from the volcano in the eruptive days.

Enrique, our driver, slowed down to see a tiny river in the bottom of a big covered in vegetation canyon: The Reventado River (The “Blown up” river… that’s its name!). And after that we started to go up through fog and rain seeing onion and potato plantations and small peaceful towns.

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We took the Panamerican Highway all the way to the region or our first capital city Cartago and took a detour through the town of Taras, that, as Greivin said, was destroyed in December 1963, due to avalanches coming from the volcano in the eruptive days.

Enrique, our driver, slowed down to see a tiny river in the bottom of a big covered in vegetation canyon: The Reventado River (The “Blown up” river… that’s its name!). And after that we started to go up through fog and rain seeing onion and potato plantations and small peaceful towns.

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As we were going up, there was within the clouds a glimpse of hope regarding the weather… We were actually getting into a sunny and gorgeous weather… Above the clouds! Fantastic!

Greivin explained in a very entertaining way about the agriculture, the potatoes, the onions, how the towns or the region survive on the super fertile soils and the way they live and work. On the other hand having a blue sky over our heads, Enrique said that we would stop for pictures on the way down, we certainly had to hurry to get to see the craters clear!

As we arrived to the National Park, the entrance was fast and easy. Not a delay. Greivin went down, payed and came back up without a hiccup.

Our first stop was all the way up to the outlook and the highest point of the Irazu (3,432 meters above sea level – 11,259 feet) . It was so clear that we really thought that we would be able to have a two for one, with the view of the very active Turrialba… But no, Turrialba was covered in clouds.

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However the view of the Irazu is so magical and so impressive that it was absoluty worth it to go all the way up! (Plus we went on the car.. it’s not like we were hiking all the way to the top!).

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We stayed in the outlook for about twenty minutes and then started to go down, by car, to the main area, where the cafeteria, bathrooms and trails to the crater are.

Our first stop was actually at the restrooms that I found to be clean and organized.

Then we were asked by Greivin if anyone wanted to go by itself, and as no one did, he went straight to the map to explain the National Park fully, as well as a very detailed information on what is a volcano, the types of eruptions that there are and what does the Irazu do.  Very well explained… and very entertaining!

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As we walked to the main crater, Greivin stopped here and there to explain the craters, the flora, the flowers and plants, which are very different from the usual you see in Costa Rica, as the National Park Irazu is above the tree line.

We walked an easy paved trail through the three craters, the Playa Hermosa, the Diego de la Haya and the Main Crater and then once Greivin gaves all the history and all the geological details of the volcano, we had about 40 minutes left to simply walk around or go to the cafeteria, or whatever.

I took the trail walking on the edge of the main crater, and then going across the Playa Hermosa Crater, into the Picnic areas and back to the car.

Now that I look back I wished I would have taken some pictures of the cafeteria and the souvenirs store, but I guess that would be for next time!

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I took the trail walking on the edge of the main crater, and then going across the Buenavista Crater, into the Picnic areas and back to the car.

Now that I look back I wished I would have taken some pictures of the cafeteria and the souvenirs store, but I guess that would be for next time!

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On the way down Enrique stopped us twice… One to catch the magnificent views of the road to Irazu and another for a very authentic picture of the life in the Irazu outskirts.

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At the end of the tour, we stopped at the Basilica of our lady of the Angels, but I am into writting a full story on this church and the tradition of the “Romeria”. A walk that is done every year on August the 2nd, by two millions of Costa Ricans, in order to worship the Lady of the Angels, the Patron Saint of Costa Rica.

In conclusion, I felt very privileged to have done the tour. It was really an impeccable operation and the staff got out of the way for all passengers to feel happy, comfortable and relaxed.

Five stars and highly recommended!

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Recommendations: 

Bring closed shoes, rain poncho and a good jacket.

It is great for: 

Everyone! This is an option everyone can do, except for those with a heart condition, the Irazu Volcano has paved trails and goregous views.

Especially recommended for those looking for a four hours option either because they are in business or their flight is later in the day.