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Turrialba Volcano
General information


It is part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, 16 km northwest from the city of Turrialba, in Cartago, 66 km from San Jose.
Conservation Area:
Central Volcanic Mountain Range Conservation Area (ACCVC)
1.577 hectares Height: The crater is 3.340 meters above sea level
Schedule: everyday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
When to go?

Dry season: February and March

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2551-9398
(00506) 2257-8563
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
The Turrialba Volcano is the second highest volcano in Costa Rica, showing a wonderful scenery of volcanic activity. Its top part is covered by exuberant vegetation and has other volcanoes in its surroundings: Poas, Irazu and Barva volcanoes.
The Turrialba Volcano National Park is part of an area that is completely covered by virgin forests and has a beautiful sight towards the Caribbean (in clear days). This volcano has a main crater that is always in constant fumarolic activity, emitting gases and acids, as well as other crater where you can walk safely because it is inactive and perceive its wide variety of vegetation.

Its evergreen forest has high altitude species, with trees that are even 40 meters tall, and are home to many different types of birds, including the yiguirro (clay-colored thrush), which is Costa Rica’s national bird. From here, the Rio Turrialba begins its flow and continues its way through a waterfall that is almost 100 meters high.

It’s said that the Turrialba Volcano and the Irazu Volcano share the same magma channel, which is why they’re considered twin volcanoes.

More than 18.000 people visit this park every year, and it offers unforgettable experiences for all those adventurous travelers that come here to explore it.

The average annual rainfall is of 3.500 mm and the temperature ranges between 0°C and 25°C, with an average of 12°C.

This park has two life zones, the humid tropical forest and the very humid pre-montane forest, where the forest is evergreen with trees of different sizes that can range from 15 to 40 meters tall. It is common to find exposed roots in most of the trees. Some of the species that are found here are the cacho de venado, the salvia and the ratoncillo.

Oak trees are the most common species in the park. Their height can range from 15 to 30 meters, and they usually have strong, thick trunks, long branches and colorful flowers, and can live for more than 100 years.

In this park you may find species like armadillos, skunks, coyotes, rabbits, porcupines, pumas and ocelots.
More than 84 types of birds have been identified, including quetzals, goldfinches, clay-colored thrushes, warblers, tanagers and many kinds of hummingbirds.

Services and facilities on the Park
Lunch area

Inside the Park:
Visiting the viewpoints
Walking along the trails
Walking over the east crater
Visiting the waterfall

Outside the Park
Rafting in the Reventazon and Pacuare rivers
Hot springs
Horseback riding
Mountain biking
Nearby restaurants and hotels

Turrialba Volcano
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
The park is temporarily closed because it has recently shown volcanic activity that might be dangerous for its visitors.
It is better to visit this park during the dry season, in February and March.

General recommendations inside the park
If you need any help or information, go to the park rangers, they will be more than willing to assist you.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring warm, thick clothes, like a warm jacket, gloves and pants.
Bring umbrella and raincoat.
Bring a hat or cap, comfortable shoes for walking, camera and binoculars.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Do not take with you any animals, plants, rocks or any other materials from the park, as the law forbids it.
Please do not litter, use the trashcans located inside the park.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
In the top part of the crater there is a boiler (depression that was made by older and bigger craters that bonded together) that is 2.200 meters high in the west section and ranges from 500 to 800 meters high in the east section, including the craters. It has steep lava walls that range from 5 to 70 meters in thickness.

Main crater: it has a diameter of 700 meters and is 50 meters deep, where you can see fumarolic activity. This area has a lake that forms sometimes due to rainfall, and it also has terraces made by the native villagers that looked for sulfur for pharmaceutical purposes. Here you can find two hills: the Cerro Tiendilla (2.791 m) and Cerro Armando (2.750 m), which are found in the slopes of the volcano.

Active crater: in this crater, gas and vapor are expelled from its bottom. Almost 150 years ago it erupted showing magmatic activity (mixture of very hot solids, liquids and gases).

East crater: it has a diameter of 800 meters and a lagoon that forms sometimes that has a diameter of 100 meters. It is covered by vegetation and has a trail and a viewpoint where you can appreciate the foliage. You can safely walk in the crater because it remains inactive.

Trail of the active crater: it is 300 meters long and as a high difficulty level. It is currently closed.

Porfia trail: it is 500 meters long and also temporarily closed.

El Bajo trail: it is 1.4 km long and has a high difficulty level. It is currently closed.

Eruptive period:
The last eruptive period took place between 1864 and 1886 and the expelled materials critically affected the Central Valley.
February 1866: the most important eruption occurred. The records indicate that the ashes spread out 465 km northwest, reaching areas very close to Nicaragua.

Since 2005, the volcano has increased the amount of gas emissions, affecting the crops and livestock activities of the nearby villagers.

After the earthquake of January 8th, 2009, the town of Cinchona has suffered an increase in vapor columns that are several kilometers tall and also very wide.
In July 27th, 2009, The National Emergency Committee recommended to close the park due to an increase in the emissions of gases and vapor, which have caused severe damages in the surrounding pastures. However, this is just for precaution because there are no indicators of a possible explosion.

In September of 2009, some villagers of the nearby communities (La Picada and La Silvia) left their homes because they were afraid of a sudden eruption due to the fumaroles that had recently formed.

The volcano throws between 200 and 700 tons of sulfur dioxide every day, which is a clear, intoxicating gas. However, the geologists from the OVSICORI-UNA (Volcanologic and Seismologic Observatory of Costa Rica – National University) have dismissed the possibility of ashfalls and explained that the recorded seismologic activity is a response to the gas and liquid movements inside the volcano.

1723: Diego de la Haya (Cartago’s governor at the time) described a breakdown in the volcano as well as an irregular smoke emission.

1853-1863: records of constant smoke emissions.

September 16th, 1864: the volcano threw ashes for five days that covered the valleys of Cartago and San Jose, which also reached some parts of Alajuela, like Atenas and Grecia (from 50 to 60 km).

January 24th, 1865: an ashfall covered the city of San Jose. The bottom of the west crater was destroyed and also emitted a gas and vapor column of ashes and sulfuric acid.

February 1866: the volcano erupted along with an ashfall that covered part of the national territory and even reached Nicaraguan lands.

1899-2005: records of several gas emissions.

Origin of the name
There are two different stories that tell the origin of the name of this volcano:
Some say that it comes from the period before the Spanish colonization, when in the area was inhabited by two groups of native villagers around 1569, Turrialba La Grande and Turrialba La Chica, that came from the word “turru” or “turu”.

It is also said that the first Spanish settlers gave the name to this volcano, as “Torre Alba” or “Torre Blanca”, due to the white smoke emissions in the top part of the volcano.

Turrialba Volcano
como llegar?
How to get there?
Take a direct bus from San Jose to Turrialba

Transtusa (San Jose, Street 13, Ave. 6)
Office phone number: (506) 2557-5050
Take a bus from San Jose to Cartago and another one from Cartago to Turrialba

Lumaca (San Jose, Street 5, Ave. 10)
From San Jose to Cartago:
Sunday through Thursday: from 5:00 am to 12:00 mn (every 5 minutes)
Friday and Saturday: from 5:00 am to 4:00 am (every 5 minutes)
From Cartago to San Jose:
Sunday through Thursday: from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm (every 5 minutes)
Friday and Saturday: from 5:00 am to 3:00 am (every 5 minutes)
Office phone number: (506) 2537-2320.
From Cartago to Turrialba:
Transtusa (San Jose, Street 13, Ave. 6)
Office phone number: (506) 2557-5050

You can also take a bus to Santa Cruz; from here you can go 18 km to the top. The road is paved in the first 10 km, after that, you must continue along a gravel road.

From San Jose take the route #2 that goes to Cartago. Before getting to Cartago downtown, take the exit for the route #230, in direction towards Cot (about 10 km) but remain on the same route, passing through the town of Capellades (for about 13 km). Keep driving towards Santa Cruz (about 8 km), and before getting there, take the exit in the community of La Pastora, heading north for about 18 km. The road is paved except for the last 8 km. In this last part of the road you must continue along a gravel road. The distance from the exit on the route #2 until you get to the park is about 35 km.

Other kind of transportation


Turrialba Volcano
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