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.
Orosi Valley, Costa Rica is a site that holds a lot of Costa Rican history. Orosi is situated close to 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. Make sure to take in as much of the history as possible by seeing some of the sites below during your stay!
You don’t have to drive far from Cartago before you reach the beautiful Orosi Valley with the River Reventazon carving its way through the valley floor. On your way from Cartago, you pass by the Mirador de Orosi. That is a park with a panoramic overlook over the Orosi valley. It also has walking paths, a playground, picnic tables and BBQ grills. The Mirador de Orosi is the perfect location to spend a relaxed afternoon and enjoy one of the most wonderful views in the country. Look down across the sweeping hills as birds of prey circle the skies above. The Orosi Valley is full of historical, cultural, and natural wonders. It truly gives you an insight into 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 sightings 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. You can also walk on flat paths next to the fast-flowing river. It is well-equipped with restrooms, barbecue stands, and a small restaurant. This is a great place to see the area’s lush vegetation and natural surroundings.
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. It is covered in lily pads and the water is usually not used for sailing or swimming, but the birds and animals it attracts make it very scenic. 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 into this deep canyon.
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. With its beautifully manicured gardens and simple interior, it has character and charm which makes it extremely special and worth visiting.
The ruins of Costa Rica’s oldest church are found near the town of Ujarrás. Built in 1693, the church is surrounded by gardens and is a popular place for locals to relax and enjoy a Sunday afternoon. 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. Here you’ll find Señoras selling local delicacies. For example “arepas”, “choreadas”, “elotes”, etc. A small river 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 reservoirs are major sources of electricity and power for Costa Rican homes. The Chachi is an artificial lake which was created in the 1970's by building the Cachi Dam. It was 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 figures are made out of coffee-wood branches and some are available for purchase. Macedonio Quesada, a famous sculptor and artist lived and worked here 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 offer their guests an unforgettable experience. In fact, this a a popular wedding destination with its close proximity to Orosi's most cherished sites.
Your Travel Agency in Paradise!
My Costa Rica Team