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Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba/Costa Rica

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 its last eruption in 1866, Turrialba has generally slumbered quietly. However, in January 2010, a small eruption rained a fine sprinkle of ash as far as 27km away. It was nothing major as far as eruptions go, but vulcanologists have been monitoring the situation carefully. More sulfuric gas and ash escaped from a new vent in January 2012, but the park remained open at the time of research.

Turrialba was declared a national park in 1955, and protects a 2km radius around the volcano. Below the summit, the park consists of mountain rainforest 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.

If the summit is open, you can peer into the Central Crater to observe minor fumarole activity in the bubbling sulfurous mud. The West Crater, which had its last major eruption in 1866, is spewing clouds of sulfur and steam, and is therefore closed to the public. The smaller Eastern Crater lacks fumarole activity.

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.