The Irazu Volcano poured smoke from 1963-65 and deposited ash and mud as far away as San Jose. Today, the volcano, located about 35 m/56 km east of San Jose, is surrounded by trees and wide plains where, if you're lucky, you will see foxes and other animals hunting and grazing.
The summit—which can be reached by car along a well-paved and fabulously scenic road—is as desolate as a moonscape. The highest peak in the central mountain range, Irazu is chilly even in bright sunshine. Try to visit early in the day, as the crater becomes shrouded in fog and mist later on. It's a wonderful place to watch the sun rise.
On the trip to the volcano, you also can visit the Ujarras ruins, near the town of Paraiso. The ruins are the remains of a small church built in 1693. From Ujarras you can drive around the scenic Orosi Valley. Sights include the Cachi Dam, a variety of farms, patches of forest and the rocky Orosi River. The town of Orosi has an interesting colonial church with a small museum of religious art, and there are hot springs nearby.
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