They say it’s hit or miss when you take the trip to see the main crater of the Irazú Volcano ~ some days it’s clear, and other days, it isn’t. Sad to say that on the day I went, it was invisible to the human eye. Nothing but clouds as far as my eye could see. The cool thing is that it is the tallest volcano in Costa Rica standing at 11,260 feet (3,432 meters,) so it was a good feeling no matter what to ‘have my head in the clouds.’

Regardless of my experience, I am going to provide you with up-to-date travel and cost information for a day trip from San Jose to the volcano. I’ll also post photos I took to give you a good laugh, and also, at the bottom, I’ll show you  a pic borrowed from wikipedia that shows you what you should see, and what you want to see, when you plan this trip.

Public Transportation: Daily from San Jose and Cartago. Catch the bus across Avenida 2 from the National Theater (Teatro Nacional) at 8:00am (only ONE departure per day!) or at 8:30am at the Tierra Blanca stop in Cartago. Bus leaves the volcano at 12:30pm. About $5 pp round trip (2,515 colones is what I paid for a one-way from SJ) + $15 park admission. I paid that in colones (about 9,125). 

For perspective, between the sign and the front bus door, you can faintly see the National Theater. Also, on the actual sign, you can see in faded red lettering: “Volcan Irazu.” This bus departs one time daily from San Jose at 8am.

The bus ride made the whole trip worth it for me as I was able to get some cool shots out of the bus window with my camera, and I was able to see more of what surrounds San Jose. The bus stops a few times on the way, the main one being in Cartago, and the stops are quite seamless and not troublesome at all. The volcano is about 53kms from San Jose, so if you travel by car, you’d probably make it in about an hour. The bus takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. 

*Important Note! Getting on the bus to return at 12:30pm, you pay less than you do for the first ticket you buy to come to the volcano (the return ticket is about 2,000 colones, I think.) I didn’t know why, until…The bus didn’t return us to San Jose. Rather, it dropped us in Cartago and we had to walk a few blocks to a bus terminal and catch another bus that would take us on the final leg back to San Jose. This cost 625 colones (just over $1 usd). 

Once you arrive at the park, the bus driver has you disembark to pay the man in the ‘tollbooth’ for your admission ticket, and then you get back on the bus, ticket in hand, and the bus takes you to your final stop. This is where the bus will remain for the duration of your time there, so, at 12:15pm, try to get back to the bus because it departs at 12:30pm sharp. 

It’s a very short walk to the path that takes you to the crater. No hiking is involved on this route at all, and within 5 minutes, you are there:IMG_4719

Somewhere in there is a beautiful crater. Just trust me. 
I mean, could I have picked a worse day to try to see the crater?! Answer: No.
On the way to the main crater, there is volcanic ash everywhere. Looks like an alien surface.
Sorry, I’ve got nothing for you…Just F O G .
It’s tough to look at this photo, realizing that this beautiful scene was covered by clouds and fog on the day I was there. If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. This photo is from wikipedia, photog unknown.

General Information:                                                                                                                        

Public restrooms: Yes, and they are maintained quite well.
Shopping: Gift shop with coffee, snacks, and every type of souvenir.
ATMs: No, not that I saw.
Gas stations: No (nearest is in Potrero Cerrado 20 mins from crater)
Cell Phone Reception: Yes, reliable.
Restaurants: No
Nearest medical facilities: Hospital in Cartago (1 hour)                                                           Best Time to Visit: December through May, but can be visited all year round, *except February 25, 2019*, obviously)                                                                           Wear: The change in temperature from first stepping onto the bus in San Jose to arriving at the peak, is real. Wear pants, shoes (no sandals), a hat, and a windbreaker or sweatshirt. At least have them on hand, or you’ll be tempted to waste about $60 on gear in the gift shop. (I didn’t do it, but I definitely stared longingly at a nice windbreaker with a hood.)

So, you could say my trip was a bit of a bust, BUT, as I mentioned earlier, I did get some nice shots along the way. And for that, I am eternally grateful. Have a look below:

It’s something special to feel this high above it all, in the clouds.
Quaint villages mark the route from Cartago to Irazú.
A ‘farm store’ in Cartago.
In the clouds.
Field workers.
Charming Red House of Worship in Cartago.
Sufficiently immersed in clouds as we ascend towards our final destination.


25feb19. Cartago & Irazú Volcano, Costa Rica. 

I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I’ll be hanging around San Jose for a little while longer…