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.

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The Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilaran Mountains of northwest Costa Rica is one of the world’s premiere destinations for naturalists. A cloud forest is an especially beautiful and rare type of rain forest created by frequent mists from low-lying clouds. This cool and moist environment is characterized by massive trees covered by thick “carpets” of small plants. Much of the resident wildlife is endemic to these habitats. In addition to forest hikes, visitors can enjoy many other area attractions including horseback riding; dining in numerous restaurants; live frog and butterfly exhibits; bird watching; crafts and gift shopping; “zip line” tours and bridge walks in forest canopies; a visit to a native orchid garden and more.


Sarapiquí & Caribbean Lowlands

Also known as Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, it is only a 1.5 hour drive north of San Jose. One route takes you past the dramatically forested mountains of Braulio Carrilo National Park, the other past Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. Lowland offers exceptional wild and birdlife. World famous La Selva Biological Station is located here. Monkeys, parrots, toucans, iguanas, caiman, sloths, poison dart frogs and basilisk lizards are regular rainforest residents.. The Sarapiquí River is great for Class III white water rafting upriver and wildlife boat cruises downriver.


San José

The city of San José is the national capital and economic center of Costa Rica. It is currently undergoing a renaissance with pedestrian streets and modern high rise buildings. Yet it still retains much of its past multicultural heritage in restored elegant old buildings, historic statues and parks. Its many international restaurants offer excellent cuisine, and its theaters host numerous concerts and performances. Nightlife abounds in clubs with dancing to salsa, merengue, or rock music! San José has several public museums including The National Museum, Gold Museum and Jade Museum. All have excellent exhibits and the latter two feature artworks by prehistoric indigenous people.