One of the first days in Costa Rica we decided to climb (or rather drive) to the top of the highest active volcano in the country: Irazu. Views from the top can be spectacular they say. On a very rare clear day you can see both the Pacific and the Carribean. Clearly that was not the case on the day we were there. More so, at the checkpoint the guards warned us that we could still turn around, because we might not be able to see the crater through the thick mists. Stubborn as we are, we decided to give it a try nonetheless and drove on to the top. We never for a second regretted that decision. It was early morning and we had the place almost to ourself. The clouds gave the place an dreamy feel. When the clouds lifted, we could see the whole volcano until the next gust of clouds rolled in. We might even recommend people to wait for those exact circumstances to drive up there. It was magical.
The first of three craters, the largest one, is the one you cross on the way to see the other two. It’s a barren moonlike setting, a very large bowl filled with dark lava sand. The clouds prevented us from seeing very far most of the time, which augmented this out-of-this-world experience. The kids loved running around and descovering the place. Especially the Dinosaur nests intrigued them…
The path that runs the side of crater 1 brings you to the viewing point for crater 2. This is a picture perfect crater hole filled with water to create a wonderfully beautiful lake. Gorgeous. We could stand there watching it for hours… The kids pulled us away however, because they were so keen on exploring the edges of crater 1 some more. So we ventured on, knowing we would have another good look on our way back. We went all the way to the end of crater 1 where a bonsai-like tree provided a nice picknick spot and our turning point.
Somehow on our way to crater two we got distracted and walked past crater 3 without noticing it. A detailed study of the map we got taught us where it had to be. And there it was. Another crater looking a bit like crater 1, but slightly smaller and with a small lake in the middle.
There and back again
The way back to San Jose was an easy ride down the mountain through forrest and rural countryside. Luckily this time, Waze guided us via the main road. On the way up, somehow Waze (our mobile GPS) thought it would be better if we took a sight seeing detour. We ended up climbing very small potholed mountain roads through tiny villages almost all the way to the top. Very scenic and offering a real glimpse of rural life in Costa Rica. More so, we had the chance of testing the capacities of Rodrigo. He did an excellent job!