In the eastern edge of Costa Rica’s broad central valley, Cartago is the capital city of the province of the same name and former colonial capital of the nation. Due to a massive earthquake that destroyed most of the city’s older buildings in 1910, few historic buildings that predate that event survive to this day. However, this city has one of the nation’s most famous buildings: La Basilica. On August 1st of each year, over a million Costa Ricans walk on a pilgrimage to this large church. Visits to Cartago are often combined with tours to Irazú Volcano, an 11,000 dormant volcano overlooking the city, and Lankester Gardens, a botanical garden of tropical plants and where many of the nation’s 1400 orchid species are protected.
Turrialba in eastern Costa Rica is a lush region that produces coffee, sugarcane, numerous types of cheeses and is where the internationally renowned tropical agriculture research station CATIE is located. The area hosts an ancient indigenous site at Guayabo National Monument, and a simmering active volcano also named Turrialba. Additionally the area offers excellent birdwatching, and popular action sports such as whitewater rafting on Class III-IV Pacuare and Reventazón rivers, kayaking, biking and canyoning.