WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT Central Valley
- All that glitters is gold in the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in San Jose
- Spend an evening at the National Theatre of Costa Rica
- Hike up active Turrialba Volcano or its lively neighbour, Irazu, known locally as “The Colossus”
- Exhilarating white water rafting along the Pacuare River
OUR SPECIALISTS 'MUST DO'
Three great highlights can be visited in just one day within the Central Valley. Walk up to the crater of mighty Poas volcano, to see the bubbling green sulphuric “soup” of the world’s largest active crater-lake. Follow this with a visit to Doka Coffee Plantation for a “Seed to Cup” tour and end at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where you will be introduced to the amazing bio-diversity of this country, including many of the animal, bird, insect and plant species that you will hope to see during your onward journey around Costa Rica.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT The Central Valley
Outside the capital of San Jose the bustling city gives way to plantations, fincas, primary rainforest and ravines of a truly beautiful wilderness area. The surrounding wild rivers, towering volcanoes and rugged highlands are an amazing outdoor adventure playground where you can pit your wits against Mother Nature by hiking, zip-lining, mountain-biking, rafting, canyoning and kayaking. However, the area is also about how the land is managed. Coffee growing is a very important activity in the Central Valley and you can visit plantations to learn about production.
Most visits to Costa Rica start and finish in San Jose, located in the middle of the Central Valley, surrounded by high mountains. With a reputation of being a chaotic and lively place, often congested by heavy traffic, most visitors overlook San Jose as destination. However, many sites of interest are conveniently located in the compact centre and are easily visited on foot and there are a huge number of excellent eateries to discover.
There are a handful of interesting museums and cultural centres providing a satisfying insight into the country’s culture and history. The Jade Museum contains the largest collection of jade artefacts in the Americas, the National Museum is interestingly housed in the converted barracks of Bellavista Fortress that still bears the scars of the 1948 civil war. The Museum of Contemporary Art and Design specialises in Central American Art with some international exhibitors. And the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum hosts a fascinating collection of exhibits that chart a move away from a Maya influence.
San Jose has also seen somewhat of a renaissance of the last few years and a culinary revolution. Eclectic and fine dining options have sprung up in barrios across the city centre, Promising young cooks to Michelin-starred chefs have opened restaurants, serving everything from traditional Costa Rican dishes, to Argentine Steak and mouth-watering tapas.
DID YOU KNOW?
Turrialba and Irazu are Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes. Significant seismic activity occurred as recently as January 2012 when a new vent opened. The last eruption was in 2010 when considerable amounts of volcanic ash fell on nearby farms.
WHEN TO GO
December to April offers your best chance of clear skies and little rain in San Jose. Days are warm but at an elevation of 1,170 metres above sea level, nights can be cool. Outside the capital, temperatures stay around 22 degrees year-round although evenings can be chilly and you’ll need some warmer gear and a wind-proof jacket for some of the higher hikes. The driest period is January to April. While you can raft at any time of year, adrenaline junkies may prefer to visit between May and November when the rivers are at their highest and wildest.