Introducing Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba
This rarely visited active volcano (3328m) was named Torre Alba (White Tower) by early Spanish settlers, who observed plumes of smoke pouring from its summit. Since 1866, however, Turrialba has slumbered quietly, and today the summit is considered safe enough to explore.
Turrialba was declared a national park in 1955, and protects a 2km radius around the volcano. Below the summit, the park consists of montane rain and cloud forest, dripping with moisture and mosses, full of ferns, bromeliads and even stands of bamboo. Although small, these protected habitats shelter 84 species of birds and 11 species of mammals.
In 2001 the volcano showed its first signs of activity in 135 years, though so far it’s been limited to fumaroles and micro-tremors. While hiking the summit, you can peer into the Central Crater, which has minor fumarole activity consisting of bubbling sulfurous mud. The Main Crater, which last erupted in 1866, is starting to spew jets of sulfur and steam again, and is thus closed to the public. The smaller Eastern Crater lacks fumarole activity, though moisture is present in the crater during the rainy season.
Although the craters are not nearly as dramatic as Poás or Irazú, the lack of infrastructure (and tourists) gives the summit a wild and natural feeling that is absent from more-touristed volcanoes.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009