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John Michael’s guidebook

John Michael

John Michael’s guidebook

Sightseeing
This is the real Costa Rica--not the television verson--where Costa Ricans live, work, and have fun. See the sights that no one else does.
This is the most important church building in Costa Rica as it is the site of a purported miracle. Every August 2 half the population of the entire country walks La Romería—a pilgrimage to arrive here from wherever they live.
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Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles
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This is the most important church building in Costa Rica as it is the site of a purported miracle. Every August 2 half the population of the entire country walks La Romería—a pilgrimage to arrive here from wherever they live.
Casa del Sonador is a woodworking artisan studio in Cachí. 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 sculptures in pieces of coffee wood from the area. Easy to find, the house looks like it could have been built by that famous Second Little Pig.
Dreamer House
Casa del Sonador is a woodworking artisan studio in Cachí. 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 sculptures in pieces of coffee wood from the area. Easy to find, the house looks like it could have been built by that famous Second Little Pig.
Pass over the large suspension bridge that flies above the Reventazon River and you’ll reach Orosi—the namesake of the valley and a quaint town that will give you a real feel for real Tico life. The oldest active church in all of Costa Rica sits proudly in the center of town. In constant operation since 1743——long before the USA became a nation, it has character and charm which makes it extremely special and worth visiting.
Iglesia Colonial de Orosi
Pass over the large suspension bridge that flies above the Reventazon River and you’ll reach Orosi—the namesake of the valley and a quaint town that will give you a real feel for real Tico life. The oldest active church in all of Costa Rica sits proudly in the center of town. In constant operation since 1743——long before the USA became a nation, it has character and charm which makes it extremely special and worth visiting.
Founded in 1915 with state of the art treatment, the Duran Sanitorium was the premier tuberculosis treatment center in the world—until antibiotics were invented. With cures then available, the center slowly declined and was finally abandoned. But Ghost Hunters International says, not all the former residents have left. Purported to be the most haunted site in Costa Rica, many have claims of seeing spirits—including a former nun-nurse who still roams the halls.
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Sanatorium Dr. Carlos Duran Cartin
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Founded in 1915 with state of the art treatment, the Duran Sanitorium was the premier tuberculosis treatment center in the world—until antibiotics were invented. With cures then available, the center slowly declined and was finally abandoned. But Ghost Hunters International says, not all the former residents have left. Purported to be the most haunted site in Costa Rica, many have claims of seeing spirits—including a former nun-nurse who still roams the halls.
If you are up for a 3 hour round-trip drive, the Guayabo Ruins are an absolute must-see. The drive is easy and gorgeous as you pass through several micro-climates. This Pre-Colombian archaeological site was once home to over 10,000 people! Why they suddenly left 500 years ago is still a mystery. These are considered to be the most significant ruins between those left by the Mayans in Mexico and the Incas in Perú.
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Guayabo National Monument
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If you are up for a 3 hour round-trip drive, the Guayabo Ruins are an absolute must-see. The drive is easy and gorgeous as you pass through several micro-climates. This Pre-Colombian archaeological site was once home to over 10,000 people! Why they suddenly left 500 years ago is still a mystery. These are considered to be the most significant ruins between those left by the Mayans in Mexico and the Incas in Perú.
This is the most visited National Park in Costa Rica. It is the tallest volcano in the country at 11,300 feet. Your best bet to get a view of the crater (and possibly all the way to both coasts) is early in the morning between December and April. Temperatures hover around 45F and the constant winds and saturating humidity contribute to a bitter cold at the rim. Take your warmest clothes and layer up—some have commented that they would have worn a parka if they had one. Remember that you are near the equator at a significant elevation—the sun can cause burns in less than an hour at the summit.
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Irazú Volcano
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This is the most visited National Park in Costa Rica. It is the tallest volcano in the country at 11,300 feet. Your best bet to get a view of the crater (and possibly all the way to both coasts) is early in the morning between December and April. Temperatures hover around 45F and the constant winds and saturating humidity contribute to a bitter cold at the rim. Take your warmest clothes and layer up—some have commented that they would have worn a parka if they had one. Remember that you are near the equator at a significant elevation—the sun can cause burns in less than an hour at the summit.
A botanical research center that houses a world-class collection of hundreds of orchids displayed at eye level. The huge number of plants means you can see blooms year round, although February through April is the most spectacular time to visit. Other families that are well represented in the garden are palms, bamboos, heliconias, bromeliads, palms, and conifers. Don’t miss the Japanese gardens.
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Lankester Botanical Garden
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A botanical research center that houses a world-class collection of hundreds of orchids displayed at eye level. The huge number of plants means you can see blooms year round, although February through April is the most spectacular time to visit. Other families that are well represented in the garden are palms, bamboos, heliconias, bromeliads, palms, and conifers. Don’t miss the Japanese gardens.
A mirador is a scenic overlook and Costa Rica has thousands, but this one has been named one of the top seven in the country. Also a park, it has walking paths, a playground, picnic tables and BBQ grills. A perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon and enjoy one of the most wonderful views in the country. Look down across the sweeping hills as you picnic. Or just lay back and watch the birds circle the skies above.
Mirador de Orosi
A mirador is a scenic overlook and Costa Rica has thousands, but this one has been named one of the top seven in the country. Also a park, it has walking paths, a playground, picnic tables and BBQ grills. A perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon and enjoy one of the most wonderful views in the country. Look down across the sweeping hills as you picnic. Or just lay back and watch the birds circle the skies above.
The sinister looking ruins have become interestingly inviting since being converted to a public garden area. The ruin site dates back to 1575. This parish and each attempt to rebuild subsequent churches were destroyed by earthquakes. The final attempt was in 1910, when a devastating earthquake destroyed its foundations. After so many failed completion attempts, the church was considered to be cursed and kept in its current unfinished state. Located just down the street from the Basilica, it’s easy to combine the two stops into a single visit.
Ruinas De Cartago
The sinister looking ruins have become interestingly inviting since being converted to a public garden area. The ruin site dates back to 1575. This parish and each attempt to rebuild subsequent churches were destroyed by earthquakes. The final attempt was in 1910, when a devastating earthquake destroyed its foundations. After so many failed completion attempts, the church was considered to be cursed and kept in its current unfinished state. Located just down the street from the Basilica, it’s easy to combine the two stops into a single visit.
A monument of national importance, the ruins of the town of Ujarras are a valuable (and extremely rare) example of Costa Rica’s colonial times. The ruins of Costa Rica’s oldest church are found here, built in 1693. Another important fact is that the church housed the statue of the saint patron of the colonial times, which allegedly protected the colony from the attacks of the pirate Morgan in the 17th century. You can even picnic in the small but charming gardens that surround the church
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Ruinas de Ujarrás
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A monument of national importance, the ruins of the town of Ujarras are a valuable (and extremely rare) example of Costa Rica’s colonial times. The ruins of Costa Rica’s oldest church are found here, built in 1693. Another important fact is that the church housed the statue of the saint patron of the colonial times, which allegedly protected the colony from the attacks of the pirate Morgan in the 17th century. You can even picnic in the small but charming gardens that surround the church
Food scene
The ingredients are always fresh and come from local suppliers. The menu is a fusion of typical Costa Rican cuisine with recipes from other parts of the world. The chefs are happy to personalize the menu for you, also. While eating, you can admire picturesque mountain views. And don’t skip the short hike up to the waterfall!
Restaurante Casa José del Hotel Quelitales.
The ingredients are always fresh and come from local suppliers. The menu is a fusion of typical Costa Rican cuisine with recipes from other parts of the world. The chefs are happy to personalize the menu for you, also. While eating, you can admire picturesque mountain views. And don’t skip the short hike up to the waterfall!
This simple cafe, with white walls, black chairs and blackboards displaying the specials, is a recent addition to Orosi. It sits right on the southwestern corner of the square across from the soccer field and sells sandwiches, shakes heaped with cream, fresh smoothies, cakes and plenty of coffee. Pull up a seat on the veranda and watch village life go by. It derives its name from the year the Colonial Church of Orosi was built.
Soda Cafetería 1743
This simple cafe, with white walls, black chairs and blackboards displaying the specials, is a recent addition to Orosi. It sits right on the southwestern corner of the square across from the soccer field and sells sandwiches, shakes heaped with cream, fresh smoothies, cakes and plenty of coffee. Pull up a seat on the veranda and watch village life go by. It derives its name from the year the Colonial Church of Orosi was built.
Located next door to the Orosi Spa, you’ll enjoy traditional Costa Rican meals on the open air porch with views to the mountains. Combine it with a visit to the spa and save 10% off your meal.
Restaurante Tradiciones Don Jose
Located next door to the Orosi Spa, you’ll enjoy traditional Costa Rican meals on the open air porch with views to the mountains. Combine it with a visit to the spa and save 10% off your meal.
Hidden on a back street in downtown Orosi this little oasis is worth seeking out—Wood-fired thin crust pizza; good wine selection; local artisan microbrewery beers—what more could you want? The atmosphere is quirky and cool at the same time and the staff is great. Weekends often offer live entertainment. And don’t miss Javier’s rose garden.
Il Giardino - Pizzeria a la leña
Hidden on a back street in downtown Orosi this little oasis is worth seeking out—Wood-fired thin crust pizza; good wine selection; local artisan microbrewery beers—what more could you want? The atmosphere is quirky and cool at the same time and the staff is great. Weekends often offer live entertainment. And don’t miss Javier’s rose garden.
The restaurant is located within a working coffee plantation and on the shores of Lake Cachí. A large lunch buffet is served on Sundays, and a la carte ordering the rest of the week. You might catch a glimpse of a Costa Rican wedding, as this is a very popular place for couples from the San José to come and have the ceremony.
Hotel y Restaurante La Casona del Cafetal
The restaurant is located within a working coffee plantation and on the shores of Lake Cachí. A large lunch buffet is served on Sundays, and a la carte ordering the rest of the week. You might catch a glimpse of a Costa Rican wedding, as this is a very popular place for couples from the San José to come and have the ceremony.
If you want to check out a Costa Rican Bar, the friendly folks at ChiliBomba are ready to greet you. Contiguous with the restaurant Maú (that’s the sound a cat makes in Spanish) you can actually have a traditional meal and order drinks from the bar. My two favorite things at Maú are the chicken wings (get ready—they’re big) and their Chifrijo. Chifrijo is a national dish that you should try—we love it. As a play on words, Maú calls theirs, Chilifrijo.
Restaurante Maú
If you want to check out a Costa Rican Bar, the friendly folks at ChiliBomba are ready to greet you. Contiguous with the restaurant Maú (that’s the sound a cat makes in Spanish) you can actually have a traditional meal and order drinks from the bar. My two favorite things at Maú are the chicken wings (get ready—they’re big) and their Chifrijo. Chifrijo is a national dish that you should try—we love it. As a play on words, Maú calls theirs, Chilifrijo.
Self-Indulgence
There are plenty of ways to self-indulge and relax right here in the Valley...Thermal Hot springs, Spas, Swimming, etc.
Spend the whole day in the rich mineral hot springs flowing from a fracture in the tectonic plate while overlooking the Orosi valley. Or treat yourself to a relaxing soak under the stars, watching the sparkling lights below, and listening to the sounds of nature as you breathe in the pristine night air. With a restaurant on site and pools of various temperatures, you’re sure find something for everyone.
Hacienda Orosi
Spend the whole day in the rich mineral hot springs flowing from a fracture in the tectonic plate while overlooking the Orosi valley. Or treat yourself to a relaxing soak under the stars, watching the sparkling lights below, and listening to the sounds of nature as you breathe in the pristine night air. With a restaurant on site and pools of various temperatures, you’re sure find something for everyone.
An outdoor spa where you will be seduced by nature, fresh fragrances, creams, natural oils and lotions. There are various packages but we recommend the Heliconia package. Starting with a welcoming cocktail you then spend time in the various dry and steam saunas with coffee and/or raw sugar scrubs. Next have fruit plates and swimming pool time, followed by a visit to the Jacuzzi with views to the mountains. Next comes a glass of wine and relaxation time in the reading room or hot tub. Finish with an hour massage in your private Balinese-style outdoor massage room. Total time about 5-6 hours. You can even have a meal next door their restaurant with an included 10% discount.
Orosi al Natural Spa
An outdoor spa where you will be seduced by nature, fresh fragrances, creams, natural oils and lotions. There are various packages but we recommend the Heliconia package. Starting with a welcoming cocktail you then spend time in the various dry and steam saunas with coffee and/or raw sugar scrubs. Next have fruit plates and swimming pool time, followed by a visit to the Jacuzzi with views to the mountains. Next comes a glass of wine and relaxation time in the reading room or hot tub. Finish with an hour massage in your private Balinese-style outdoor massage room. Total time about 5-6 hours. You can even have a meal next door their restaurant with an included 10% discount.
Adventure
There are so many adventures around here. From Rock Climbing, to White Water Rafting, to Nature Hiking, to Zip Lines, and more
Rafting is a top activity in Costa Rica, but for those who need a little step up before heading to the more famous and challenging rivers, the Reventazon is a great choice—perfect for first time rafters. Approximately 2 hours and included lunch. During some times of the year, they also offer 2 1/2 hour zip-lining over 11 cables with lunch included
Rafting Orosi
Rafting is a top activity in Costa Rica, but for those who need a little step up before heading to the more famous and challenging rivers, the Reventazon is a great choice—perfect for first time rafters. Approximately 2 hours and included lunch. During some times of the year, they also offer 2 1/2 hour zip-lining over 11 cables with lunch included
Home to 5 kinds of tropical forests, 45 mammal species, and over 260 varieties of birds. You could see monkeys, tapirs, kinkajou, or quetzales. The Orosi River runs through the park and there are countless paths to take. A steep track leads you past a variety of short hiking trails and up to the spectacular waterfall viewpoint. You can also walk on flat paths next to the fast-flowing river. It is equipped with restrooms, barbecue stands, and a small restaurant.
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Tapantí National Park
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Home to 5 kinds of tropical forests, 45 mammal species, and over 260 varieties of birds. You could see monkeys, tapirs, kinkajou, or quetzales. The Orosi River runs through the park and there are countless paths to take. A steep track leads you past a variety of short hiking trails and up to the spectacular waterfall viewpoint. You can also walk on flat paths next to the fast-flowing river. It is equipped with restrooms, barbecue stands, and a small restaurant.
Enjoy the majesty of the Rain Forest, gliding between trees hanging from steel cables. Traveling through the forest reserve you will be able to watch mammals, birds and an lots of flora Enjoy a panoramic view of the Central Valley, Poás and Irazú Volcano, and the Tres Marías Hills.
La Carpintera
Enjoy the majesty of the Rain Forest, gliding between trees hanging from steel cables. Traveling through the forest reserve you will be able to watch mammals, birds and an lots of flora Enjoy a panoramic view of the Central Valley, Poás and Irazú Volcano, and the Tres Marías Hills.