San Jose, Irazu, Orosi, | Orchid farm, | Corobici, Guanacaste, | Monteverde, Tilarian, Quetzal, | Puntarenas, Tortuga, | Britt coffee, | Meredia, Sarapiqui, | Poas |
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Second smallest of the Central American republics in area (51.060 Km2) and population, Costa Rica is considered the purest democracy in the region, with the highest standard of living, fasted population growth rate and most advanced social welfare system. Much of the country consist of an elevated plateau - the Meseta Central, whose reliable rainfall and volcanic ash rich soil supports three quarters of the population- lined by three mountain ranges traversing it on a NW-SE axis. In the north loom five important volcanoes: Rincón de la Visja, Irazú, Barba, Turrialba, and Poás, said to have the world's second largest crater. Wide forest clad lowlands extend down to the almost unbroken Caribbean coastline while a narrower, dryer savanna fringes the Pacific coast, the many indentations and large bays in which extend its length to 1013 Km. Costa Rica has also been a Latin American leader in the establishment and serious administration of National Parks and Nature Reserves. Today they cover more than 15% of the national territory, preserving ever decreasing dry tropical and cloud forests, the large hunting ranges required by several endangered species of big cats, and the quetzal and other rare birds and amphibians in a number of Government and privately owned wildlife sanctuaries.
We stay in hotel San Jose Palacio and our operator is Panorama tours. First of all we are doing some sight seeing in San Jose and we visit the National Museum and the Metropolitan Cathedral, both very interesting.
The next day we continue our trip to the working Vulcan Irazu. We go over the Ochomogo hill surrounded by coffee plantations. We stopped at Chartago to visit the Basilica our Lady of the Angeles. The Irazu crater at 3432 meters is a very impressive large compilation of several craters with only a little bit of smoke and you will have a very wide view at this level. Take it easy because there is not much oxygen to breath at this level. We go back through the Orosi valley, a beautiful green area.
Today we planned to go to Puntarenas to make a boat trip but the weather is so stormy that it was not possible to arrange. A good alternative was to have a visit to a Orchid farm, not a commercial farm but a hobby of a retired person. All the trees in his garden are covered with orchids mainly in the colors white en purple.
We go to Corobici in the Guanacaste district for some exercise on wild water on the Corobici river we used 6 person boats, life vests and helmets and there we go down streams the river through the forest, on the way a lot of amphibians iguana and monkeys are greeting us. Its really a nice trip sometimes in silence and sometimes with big noise of the roaring water. Wet but save we arrived at the lowest point where our bus is waiting for us to continue our trip to Monteverde.On the way to Monteverde we visit one of the private sanctuaries where some wild boscats and a lot of birds are living in a unpleasant way.
Monteverde which means green mountain, is nested high in the Tilaran mountains 184 Km northwest of San Jose. It was originally settled in the 1940's by five Costa Rican families fleeing the rough and ready life of the gold mining fields of nearby Guacimal. In 1951 a group of Quakers arrived from the US and, with the help of their Costa Rican neighbors, began developing the community that exits today. At the end of the road, in the mist of Monteverde, lies the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, a 26,000 acre reserve administrated by the Tropical Science Center. It gives home to a myriad variety of plants, mammals, insects reptiles, amphibians, and over 400 species of birds. Its one of only a few areas in Central America where the legendary Quetzal finds protection. They have set up 3 different trials and the entrance is limited to 100 people in any given time. If every thing appears green to you, and you see 'nothing' , look again. With patience you may see some superb examples of mimicry. Walk slowly and quietly along the trials and you will be enchanted by the perfection of this magical place, the tropical cloud forest!
After your trip through the forest visit the Hummingbird gallery where some feeders attract a wide variety of lovely Hummingbirds. They will come very close . And visit the Butterfly garden and walk through the botanical gardens in the all weather greenhouse and screened flyway. All butterfly's are hand raised and you can observe each stage of their life cycle.
On the way back to San Jose we first go to Puntarenas for our boat trip to island Tortuga. The weather is very nice so we don't expect problems. The island Tortuga is touristic but beautiful, white sandy beach surrounded by palm trees and a lot of iguana are walking around. there is a possibility to have a very good lunch at the beach
Back in San Jose we joined the Britt coffee tour, a touristic attraction of Britt, they explained in a funny popular way the history of coffee and show you the process from bean to a cup of coffee and try to sell some.
Our next trip is over Meredia highlands and the central valley to the Sarapiqui river for a long boat trip. The Sarapiqui is a long river through preserved forest and you will see a wide variety of birds, iguana, alligators and monkey's.
Our last trip to the Poas volcano at 2700 meters is very impressive, at the top there is a lot of smoke still coming out and when the wind is blowing it away you will have an exciting view inside the enormous crater with bubbling hot water. The smell of sulfa is very strong and its not recommended to stay there for a long time.