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San José and Central Valley Attractions

   

Aserri
Perched on the southern peaks surrounding the Central Valley and less than 20 minutes from San Jose, Aserri is renowned for "miradors" - restaurants and bars with breathtaking lookouts over the city and country far below.

Rio Reventazón white-water rafting (Class II-III)
The trip begins with a scenic drive by comfortable air-conditioned bus to the tremendous Rio Urney down the river provides plenty of excitement for the most experienced rafter, yet it's forgiving enough to allow even a novice to paddle, making this the perfect introductory trip for the beginner. The ride begins with a relatively easy series of rapids, providing an opportunity to gain confidence as you approach the challenging El Gordo (Fatso) and Hueco Santo (Holy Hole) rapids, while enjoying the magnificent jungle scenery and wildlife.

Rio Pacuare white-water rafting (Class III-IV)
Costa Rica's most scenic and the quintessential tropical river with densely vegetated gorges, waterfalls, exuberant wildlife and ravishing rapids. It is one of the great rafting rivers in the world, with sections dropping 100' per mile as it cuts through one of the rare pockets of unexplored wilderness left on this planet. Total trip length - 18 miles.

The Central Market
Where vendors hawk exotic spices, fish, fruit, vegetables, and wood and leather handicrafts from stalls in this warren of dark, narrow passages. Block bounded by Avdas. Central and 1, Cs. 6 and 8. Open Mon.-Sat. 6-6.

Cafe Britt CoffeeTour
When you take the CoffeeTour at Café Britt you'll do exactly that! The professional acting troupe, dressed in traditional garb, will escort you through a multi-media, interactive tour through the history of coffee. On the finca, as the plantation is called in Spanish, your day starts on six-acres of coffee fields, tropical gardens and coffee processing facilities...

Butterfly Farm
Two hour guided tour teaching you the incredible details of the complex life-cycle of some of the world's most beautiful butterflies. This farm is home to over 1,000 butterflies.

Irazú Volcano
"Mountain of rumbling and trembling", is the highest peak of the Central Volcanic range and the largest volcano in Costa Rica. The former capital of Costa Rica, Cartago, lies just 20 minutes east of San Jose. The road to the summit of Irazú Volcano heads north just before town, winding past beautiful scenery and fantastic views before ending at the awe-inspiring crater. Once at the top of the misty Volcano you will be astonished by its "lunar" landscape. On the way down, drive to the ruins of the old parish and the splendid Basilica de los Angeles, Costa Rica's most sacred shrine.

Lankester Botanical Gardens
Features an impressive collection of orchids (about 800 of Costa Rica's 1,400 species are found here) and other tropical plants. Numerous trails offer the possibility of getting in touch with desert-like and forest gardens, as well as a great variety of unique small plants in micro habitats.

Poás Volcano National Park
From Alajuela, heading in a steady climb to its summit at 9,000' above sea level, the Poás Volcano is one of the three volcanoes in the continent accessible by road, and it's considered among the largest craters in the world. Along the way, you will watch a colorful scenery that includes coffee plantations, strawberry fields, and ornamental plant greenhouses. Once at the volcano, you will walk through the country, brimming with native plant species, and marvel at the spectacular views of the smoking crater and crater lake.

Pueblo Antiguo
Located in San Jose's Amusement Park, this is a full scale reproduction of a typical Costa Rican town 100 years ago, featuring a folkloric dance troupe, mock machete fights, typical restaurants, etc.

ZooAve
Hundreds of species of tropical, rare, endangered birds are showcased, as are several species of primates and reptiles. A successful breeding program for tropical birds has been in place for some time.

National Theater
An historical landmark. Opera, classical music and other performances can be seen regularly.

National Arts and Cultural Center
Contains works of art, architectural displays and photo exhibits. There is also a performing arts area.

Jade Museum
The Museo de Jade (Jade Museum) with its' display of 6,000 pieces of fascinating pre-colombian jade, clay, stone and gold artifacts, is the only pre-Columbian jade museum in the Americas. The world's largest collection of American jade dates primarily from 300 BC to AD 700. Other pre-Columbian artifacts on display include polychrome vases, three-legged metates (low tables for grinding corn), and a startling array of ceramic fertility symbols. There is also an outstanding exhibit of ceramics which include large human figures, gorgeous ceramic turtles, as well as beautifully preserved polychrome vessels dating from 1000 to 1350 AD. First floor of INS building, Avda. 7 between Cs. 9 and 11, tel. 2287-6034, ext. 2584. Admission: $8. Open weekdays from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Open Saturdays from 9:00am - 1:00pm.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum
The Gold Museum features one of the most valuable and spectacular collections of pre-Colombian gold in the world. This dazzling, modern museum, housed within a three-story underground building, contains the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold jewelry in Central America: 20,000 troy ounces of gold in more than 1,600 individual pieces. Eastern end of Plaza de la Cultura, next to the tourist office, tel. 223-0528. Admission: $5. Open Tues.-Sun. 10-4:30.

Plaza de la Cultura (Culture Square)
This large cement square is a pleasant spot to buy some souvenirs, soak up the sun, or watch marimba bands, clowns, jugglers, and colorfully dressed South Americans playing Andean music. Between Avdas. Central and 2 and Cs. 3 and 5.

Jardín de Mariposas Spyrogyra (Butterfly Garden)
Some 30 species of colorful butterflies flutter around the gardens, together with several types of hummingbirds. Self-guided tours provide information about butterfly ecology and a chance to observe the winged jewels close up. 55 yds west and 164 yds south of brick church of San Francisco, Guadalupe, tel. 222-2937. Admission: $4.50. Open daily 8-3.

The Museo Nacional (National Museum)
Founded in 1887, contains exhibits on natural history, pre-colombian cultures and the history of Costa Rica and is situated in a former fortress last used for military purposes during the 1948 civil war. This museum offers a quick and insightful lesson in Costa Rican culture. Rooms are devoted to pre-Columbian artifacts, period costumes, colonial furniture, and photos of Costa Rican life through the ages. C. 17 between Avdas. Central and 2, tel. 257-1433. Admission: $4. Open Tues.-Sun. 8:30-4.

   
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