Turrialba and Pacuare
East of San Jose (40miles/65km) in the Central Valley region of Cartago is Turrialba, a wonderfully rustic area in which to spend a few days as either an alternative to San Jose or if you’re en route to the Pacuare or coastal Caribbean regions.
The town of Turrialba is known as the gateway to the Caribbean. As a town, it is overwhelmingly dominated by the Turrialba volcano which stands at 3,300m. It is a relatively short drive to get here from San Jose and along the way you will pass coffee and sugar plantations all with the Turrialba volcano as a magnificent back drop.
This area is the base for some of the countries best rafting and kayaking opportunities. The Pacuare river has some world-class white-water conditions together with spectacular canyons lined with lush rainforest. We recommend trying this from Pacuare Lodge!
In terms of culture, the pre-Columbian archaeological site, Guayabo National Monument is worth a look. There are clear trails allowing you to walk around the excavated areas of this ‘lost city’. This 2000 year old settlement was strangely abandoned in AD 1400 and there is evidence that the town might have been at a population of 10,000 at its height.
Not everybody makes it up here during their stay in Costa Rica and so to discover a relatively ‘un-touristy’ part of Costa Rica is a great thing to do and see.
As well as fabulous scenery and fascinating culture, these regions offer a multitude of activities and excursions, making it a joy for anyone to explore. Some of the best include: horseback riding through the forests; rapelling the waterfalls; hiking to Irazu, Poas and Barva Volcanoes; trekking into the jungle to view sloths, capuchins, ocelots, iguanas, toucans and potentially jaguars; and touring the local coffee, sugar and Macadamia plantations.