(Costa Rica)In the Central Valley can be reached directly from San José (or from Puerto Viejo de Limon as was my case, since, from Tortuguero, the route passed through the beaches of the Caribbean ), and start the route Alajuela. This area of Costa Rica is one of the ones that I liked the most since you can do a good number of routes on foot.
Tour of the Villages of the Central Valley
It has a succession of highly recommended villages to make a stop, take a walk, have a beer, buy handicrafts or simply take photos. Some of the towns in which I recommend a stop are: Grecia, for its curious Mercedes Cathedral (its structure is made of metal and painted red-garnet), is in the center of town; Naranjo, essential to take photos of its steep slopes with views of the houses and see the busy commercial life; Sarchí, is a town dedicated to the manufacture of wooden furniture, leather chairs, decorated benches, and typical Costa Rican cars.
There are a couple of stores indicated in all the guides, the Joaquín Chaverri cart factory which is south of Sarchí, and Coopearsa which is north of Sarchí, both have a good selection of typical souvenirs, but the most interesting are their cars, chairs and decorated benches. It is a little cheaper than the Joaquín Chaverri Cart Factory, although it is highly recommended to take a look at the shops that are on the roadside and close to them, the prices are a little lower. In the center of town, you will find a huge decorated exhibition car and a church with two bell towers.
Zarcedo is a mountain town with a blue church and a beautiful interior, decorated with very bright colors and based on wood, and the Francisco Alvarado Park in front of the church, with trimmed hedges making abstract figures (it has its origin in 1960 where the gardener Evangelista Blanco gave free rein to his imagination when it came to powering the hedges, today they follow in his wake). This town is a good place to buy pesticide-free products.
In the section from Naranjo to Zarcedo along the road you will be able to find a good number of food stalls (honey, cookies, pasta, cashew nuts, flowers, palm heart cheese, etc.), make a stop because they are worth it, likewise, Take the opportunity to take photos of the valley, they are authentic postcards.
Poás Volcano and Botos Lagoon
In this area it is very nice to visit the Poás Volcano, it is a National Park that opens from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is a still-active volcano (the last activity recorded is from 1995), the main crater gives off sulfite acid. Try not to arrive later than 12:00 in the morning as it is an area where the clouds are low and can cover the crater, so the interest of the park would be lost.
The next section of the park is to reach the Botos Lagoon, it is an artificial lake of great beauty until you get here, you will have passed through a cloud forest, vegetation full of lichens and moss, as well as a good amount of fire throated hummingbirds. The last section of the route is to go up to the Escallonia Trail, it is higher, and therefore less traveled. In total it will be a route of approximately 1:30 minutes.
There are signs throughout the park, so in no time you will get lost. The entrance is $ 10 per person and $ 3 more if you go with a vehicle.
It is a spectacular private biological reserve, which combines accommodation with the maintenance of 1,000 hectares dedicated to the protection of flora and fauna. If you have the opportunity to get here and/or include it within your route in the trip ( here they have very well indicated how to get there, it is very well described), you will like it a lot. The treatment is exquisite, the quality of the accommodation the same, the food cared for, and being able to drink water without having been treated is not bad 😉
Within the reserve you can do three routes, the most recommended is the one that takes you to the La Fortuna waterfall, it has a degree of difficulty of 2/5 and it can take approximately 110 minutes round trip. It is a very beautiful hike where you can see a great variety of flora and fauna.
When you go to the left of Bosque de Paz in the direction of Rio Cuarto (it is 8 kilometers past Bajos del Toro ) you will see indications, you have to turn left at an establishment painted yellow, park, and the same woman who is in charge of the kitchen, he will charge you $ 10 per person so that you can go down to the foot of the waterfall.
To say that it is a luxury is to stay short, the descent begins with a branch of 500 meters of the simple path until you have to start going down a good flight of quite steep concrete stairs (180 stairs) and as many wooden ones. Both the descent and the climb are a good beating but they are the reward to enjoy this 90-meter waterfall surrounded by moss. Stay a few minutes in silence and listening to the waterfall, it is deafening. It is very likely that when you go down you are alone, not many people usually go down to the base.
From here you can go to the Juan Castro Blanco National Park, we did not have time, but if you have been and you liked it, share it 😉