If you thought majestic alpine lands were only in Switzerland, think again and this time turn to Costa Rica, often called the Switzerland of the Americas for its similarities in natural beauty, size and progressive culture. Many tourists come to do canopy rides, see the beaches and explore the rainforest, but we can assure you exploring mountains (some of them around massive volcanoes) is equally attractive.
We rented a car in San Jose for the day and if you want to know some of the logistics of renting a car in Costa Rica check here. We headed in a eastward direction, towards the Caribbean out of the capital to spend the day driving through mountain towns and pristine scenery. We followed the main highway Route 2 from the capital San Jose up to to Route 230 which gracefully climbs some fast rising slopes. We saw the central valley of San Jose and Cartago slip behind us quickly.
Pacayas and Capellades
The beauty of these winding mountain roads is that they are flanked by rolling hills just full of agricultural abundance. Carrots, Potatoes and Onions dominate the landscape and it is so scenic. The climate is much cooler up here than in almost any other part of Costa Rica due to the elevation so bring a jacket for early morning and evening hours. Towns are very typical with just several thousand inhabitants whose rich traditions and agricultural lifestyle form a unique culture. Pacayas and Capellades are two such towns with lovely houses, friendly inhabitants, amazing local restaurants with delicious food and scenic wonder.
Agriculture also gives rise to more savory food products and the fertile slopes of this region are full of livestock too. The most renowned cheese in Costa Rica comes from this small town on the slopes of the Irazu volcano. It is a fresh cheese with rich flavor and you’ll find plenty of it being sold along the roadways and farms. It can be an awesome opportunity to meet and exchange with local producers while getting a fresh and succulent product.
The domineering cliffs and formations of this wild landscape are undoubtedly the formations of the active Irazu Volcano. The majority of land in the region makes up part of a major national park and as such there are many attractions like Pacuare River Rafting, Parque Prusia, and Sanatorio Duran. The last spot is a famous quarantine hospital campus that used to serve people with tuberculosis. It is a famous attraction and on the road just above it we ended our trek alongside many other tourists watching the sun dip below the horizon and the entire central valley light up splendidly.