If you hire your own rental car when you come to Costa Rica, visiting the Orosi Valley is a picturesque and fascinating day trip from San José. Not only will you see some of the country’s oldest architectural sights, but also some of its most beautiful natural ones too. Just over 20 miles out of the city, the freeway takes you to your first stop, Cartago, Costa Rica’s first capital.
Its striking Cathedral dating back to 1639 is a place of pilgrimage and millions of people make the arduous journey there on foot from all over the country at the beginning of every August. In Orosi, its sacred black Madonna, La Negrita, draws people all year round. And it is a great place to break up your journey and see the most important religious monument in the country.
Out of Cartago you don’t have to drive far before you reach the beautiful Orosi Valley. With the River Reventazon carving its way through the valley floor. One of the area’s best views can be found at the Sanchiri Hotel and Restaurant. Start your day with a traditional breakfast, ‘gallo pinto’. Look down across the sweeping hills as birds of prey circle the skies above. Then on to Costa Rica’s oldest church in constant use, the picture postcard Iglesia de San José de Orosi. With its beautifully manicured gardens and simple interior, it has character and charm that make it extremely special, and worth visiting. The Orosi Valley is full of historical, cultural, and natural wonders. Truly gives you an insight in to the real Costa Rica.
After passing through small, colorful towns, rickety bridges over the snaking river, and hills covered in coffee plantations, you eventually reach the Tapanti National Park. Covering several thousand hectares of rainforest and protected wildlife zones, many endangered animal species can be found here. Tapirs, wildcats, and white-faced monkeys are some of the most sought after viewings here. A steep track leads you past a variety of short hiking trails and up to the spectacular waterfall viewpoint. The trails vary from clambering over huge tree roots in the hills through the jungle. Also walking on flat paths to the side of the fast-flowing river. I is well-equipped with restrooms, barbeque stands, and a small restaurant. This is a great place to see the area’s lush vegetation and natural surroundings.
In Orosi Valley, once you have explored the National Park and its many trails, you can head back to the road that passes around the outside of the vast Cachi Lake. Covered in lily pads, the water is not used for sailing or swimming, but the birds and animals it attracts make it very scenic indeed. Along the road are numerous local eateries, including the fabulous Montaña de la Trucha, where you catch your own trout before eating it served fresh with patacones! After lunch you can make your way to the impressive Cachi Dam, where the wobbly bridge may have your nerves on edge as you look down in to this deep canyon.
Then stop at one of the many handcrafted souvenir stalls on your way to your final visit to the Orosi Valley, the Ujarras Church ruins National Monument. Located in one of the most attractive parts of the valley. This is where Spanish colonialists built the Ujarras Church in the 17th Century. The tranquil gardens and crumbling walls, make for a very romantic spot. It is the perfect end to a day full of variety, adventure and natural wonders; typical of any Costa Rica Vacation.
Orosi Valley, Costa Rica is a site that holds a lot of Costa Rican history. Orosi is situated in the town of Cartago and is home to the oldest Catholic Church that is still running in Costa Rica. This area is notable for having lush vegetation and an incredible scenery. While in the valley, be sure to take in as much of the history as possible by seeing some of the sites below!
The Iglesia de San Jose is truly a national landmark. Built in 1743, this is the oldest church still in use in Costa Rica. Here you’ll find a small museum which houses some interesting Spanish Colonial artifacts and religious art. The paintings, the altar and the colonial architecture of this church take you back to another time. In front of the church you’ll find a soccer field. Generally it is filled with Costa Rica’s partaking in the national pastime.
The ruins of Costa Rica’s oldest church are found near the town of Ujarrás. Built in 1693, the church is surrounded by tranquil gardens and is a popular place for locals to relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon. Here you’ll find Señoras selling local delicacies. For example “arepas”, “choreadas”, “elotes”, etc. A lazy rivers flows through the gardens and chayote farms, while kids and families play in the large open field surrounded by mountains. The ruins of Ujarras are so impressive and they make one reflect on the passage of time and how settlers arrived here hundreds of years ago to “civilize” the native tribesman.
Sometimes referred to as Orosí National Park, Tapanti National Park is home to nearly 45 mammal species. You can find white-faced capuchin monkeys,resplendent quetzals and other unique animals here. This rainforest region has a lot of unique species of vegetation. In fact, in 2009 they discovered three new species of Lepanthes orchids. Part of the Orosi River runs through this park and there are countless paths to take for hiking and finding spectacular views.
The Reventazon River runs through the Orosí, Reventazón and Turrialba Valleys and flows into the Caribbean Sea. This upper portion of the river is the source of 25% of San Jose's drinking water. Two of the river reservoirs are major sources of electricity and power Costa Rican homes.
This artificial lake was built in the 1970's and is one of the first hydroelectric projects in the country. In fact, the dam aids in providing power throughout Costa Rica and also controlling floods.
Hoping to improve your Spanish skills? The Orosi Valley School offers classes geared toward tourists to help them gain language skills. For beginners, the courses last about two weeks and serve as an immersion course where you learn a lot of Spanish in a short amount of time!
Casa del Sonador is a woodworking artisan studio in Orosi and is run by Hermes Quesada. He is the son of a well-known carver in Costa Rica. At Casa del Sonador, religious figured are made out of coffee-wood branches and some are available for purchase. Macedonio Quesada, a famous sculptor and artist lived and worked until he passed away in 1995. Now his sons carry on the tradition, bringing life to pieces of coffee roots and wood from the area.
Another attraction is Casona del Cafetal, a charming boutique hotel and restaurant. They take a lot of pride in their cuisine and offering their guests an unforgettable experience. In fact, this a a popular wedding destination with its close proximity to Orosi's most cherished sites.
Ambrosia en la Montaña: A Trip To Costa Rica’s Countryside Ambrosia en la Montaña is truly a unique mountain retreat offering a relaxing getaway with fantastic views of the Orosi Valley, Costa Rica. This tranquil bed and breakfast is run by friendly Jainie Murray, who after over 20 years of owning and running a very […]
Type: Sustainable Ecolodge
Hotel Rio Perlas Spa, Resort & Casino is located in the beautiful and legendary Orosi Valley in the province of Cartago, at just 39km from San Jose and 56Km from the Juan Santa María International Airport.
Type: Family Friendly Nature Romantic Off The Beaten Path
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