Top Ten Central America Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Explore Costa Rica's Volcanic Craters: Costa Rica
By Ron Mader & Richard Mahler

At 3,432 meters, Irazu is Costa Rica's highest volcano—it's also the site of a spectacular other-worldly scene. Umaroles emit steam and gas in the natural cauldrons, and there are five of these craters in Volcan Irazu National Park (though only one is considered active).

Unlike other parks where the adventure begins with the ascent, the climb to the peak here is facilitated by a well-maintained paved road that goes all the way to the summit, and several short nature trails wind around the crater area. Above 2,000 meters, the vegetation is a tropical montane wet forest, but inside the craters, vegetation is practically non-existent, and there's very little wildlife. The 2,309-hectare park boasts a scenery-friendly summit: in the mornings, you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic. Just be sure to arrive early, as clouds descend quickly in the afternoons.


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