Aerial View of La Garita, Alajuela

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Near by Attractions
Irazú Volcano National Park

The slopes north of Cartago rise gradually up the flanks of Volcán Irazú, a 21-km journey to the entrance to Volcán Irazú National Park.
The slopes are dotted with tidy farming villages with pastel houses. Dairy farming is an important industry, and communities are known for their cheese. The fertile fields around Cot are veritable salad bowls—carrots, onions, potatoes, and greens are grown intensively.

Volcán Irazú (3,432 mts.) derives its name from two tribal words: ara (point) and tzu (thunder). The volcano has been ephemerally active, most famously on 13 March 1963, the day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy landed in Costa Rica on an official visit: Irazú broke a 20-year silence and began disgorging great columns of smoke and ash. The eruption lasted two years. At one point, ash-filled vapor blasted up into overhanging clouds and triggered a storm that rained mud up to five inches thick over a wide area. No further activity was recorded until December 1994, when Irazú unexpectedly hiccuped gas, ash, and breccia.

Irazu crater   irazu crater

The windswept 100-meter-deep Diego de la Haya crater contains a sometimes-pea-green, sometimes-rust-red, mineral-tinted lake. A larger crater is 300 meters deep. Two separate trails lead from the parking lot to the craters. Follow those signed with blue-and-white symbols (don’t follow other trails made by irresponsible folks whose feet destroy the fragile ecosystems). The crater rims are dangerously unstable. Keep your distance.
A sense of bleak desolation pervades the summit, like the surface of the moon. It is often foggy. Even on a sunny day expect a cold, dry, biting wind. Dress warmly. The average temperature is a chilly 7.3°C (45°F). Little vegetation lives at the summit, though stunted dwarf oaks, ferns, lichens, and other species are making a comeback. Best time to visit is March or April, the two driest months.
Don’t be put off if the volcano is shrouded in fog. Often the clouds lie below the summit of the mountain—there’s no way of telling until you drive up there—and you emerge into brilliant sunshine. On a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The earlier in the morning you arrive, the better your chances of getting clear weather.

The ranger booth is two km below the summit. A mobile soda serves food and drinks on weekends, and the site has toilets and picnic benches. A visitor’s center was planned at last visit, with wheelchair access and information in braille.

No telephone; contact MINAE in Cartago, tel. (506) 2551-9398
8 a.m.–3:30 p.m., and Fri.–Sun. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
High season = $7 admission

Villa Rita Country Cottages
La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica - Tel: (506) 2487-7566 -