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DAY TRIP I - OROSI - TAPANTI - HOTSPRINGS
6 - 10 hours
Budget $10 entrance fee (foreigners), $3 entrance fee hotsprings, buses $6, cab $40 roundtrip or Rental Car + Gas
Our news site is all about downtown San Jose, Costa Rica and why it's great to live or visit here.
We focus the majority of our news on immediate downtown happenings. However, we've realized recently that a part of why it's so great to be in San Jose is because it is relatively easy to get to many other destinations for day trips, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city conveniently.
So, this will be the launch of our Day Trips from San Jose Series.
For the first trip I went with friends on a rather ambitious trip SE of the city. Our orginal plan was to take a bus to Orosi, then a cab to go hike in Tapanti National Park for a few hours, and finish in the hotsprings park, Balneario de Aguas Termales Orosi. That same morning my friend found a car, so we skipped the buses and cabs, and we were lucky we did.
Previous write-ups made it sound like we could easily take a bus from San Jose to Cartago, and then Cartago to Orosi (which is pretty easy and takes about 1.5 hours). But the misleading part was that we could take a $10 cab from Orosi to Tapanti, maybe ten years ago this was the case but not now. After stopping in Orosi to see the rustic church which was recently restored and is the oldest building in the country, it took us 45 minutes in a car to arrive to the entrance of Parque Nacional Tapanti. That cab ride would easily cost $20 one way. Keep that in mind when budgeting time and money. It is easy enough to ask people in Orosi to point you to the park and to follow signs to arrive at the park. It is mostly one straight, yet bumpy, road.
The Tapanti Park is well mapped, marked and easy to navigate once you arrive. As you can see in the map above there are 4 hiking trails. We chose to go to the Mirador first, which gives you a view of the waterfall. We caught several vistas of the waterfall coming in and I think they were all better than this Mirador. I'd skip this and focus on hiking the other trails.
We chose to do the Sendero La Catarata first. Catarata in spanish is 'waterfall'. This was an easy enough hike in sneakers but it was pretty slippery so I recommend hiking boots. This area of the country gets rain almost everyday so a rain jacket is a must as well. We quickly reached two different clearings at the river, the latter having a view of the waterfall. Here the rocks are an interesting green. It was pretty cloudy when we were there but on a sunny day it would be a great spot for swimming.
All over this park are areas to grill some food and hang out for awhile. You'll see local families set up for a full day in nature, a great chance to make some friends along the way.
Because the drive in and out took longer than we planned for, we had to make a decision to either hike another trail or hurry back to Orosi to get in some time at the hotspring park. Both Tapanti and the Balneario close at 4 p.m. We were feeling lazy so we chose the hotsprings!
We drove back to Orosi, asked a few people to point us in the direction of Balneario Aguas Termales Orosi which was about 4 blocks west of the church and 1 block north. This hotspring park resembles a community pool. There are 4 different pools full of naturally heated water with different depths for children and adults. With only an hour left in the day, the site was clearing out but we could tell the place had been full of families. If you don't care to be around so many people you might consider a weekday option (during their high months, refer to site). The water was warm, but not hot. It might have been because it was the end of the day, we watched them drain the pools at closing so maybe in the morning the water is hotter.
Overall it was a really nice trip. If you want to get all of those sites in with sufficient time at each stop I recommend leaving San Jose around 7 a.m. Tapanti is definitely worth the visit, I could sit at that river all day.
To arrange your own day trip with a private driver email us at BarrioBird@gmail.com.
image from La Nacion.
In as little as two months riding the bus in the metro area will become a little less sloppy and will start to resemble other metro area technologies that expats and tourists are familiar with. Eight inter-city bus lines will begin to accept payment via a chip on your phone (TAG) or an electronic card.
Many do not realize that each route here is owned by a different company. This makes it more difficult for one central governing body to distribute all route information and maintain well-marked bus stops, which is the biggest problem for visitors, 'how the hell do I find the bus stops or get anywhere in SJO on public transport!'
While there won't be a decent 'bus map' coming out anytime soon, this new payment method will be a foundation-laying collaboration between the Santa Ana, Escazú, Moravia, Curridabat, Tres Ríos, barrio Luján, Sabana-Cementerio and Estadio bus routes.
Users can obtain the chip or card for free in a Banco Nacional or pulperias located near the bus stops. A minimum charge of 6.000 is required for either, and the route price will be deducted each time you board one of these buses. This will help riders more easily track their transport expenditures, and help the drivers move more quickly without having to count change at each stop, not to mention the extra security for drivers not having as much cash on the bus.
This product has already been tested over two years, most specifically with the 'seniors' card currently accepted on buses by the product developer Corporación de Investigación Electrónica. The company is also trying to work with the cell phone companies to reach an agreement to provide extra free minutes or some kind of incentive to users with the cell phone chip.
There are many nuances that have made San Jose feel like such an 'other world' experience for visitors and I would say paying with cash and even receiving exact change on the buses is one. With this change we'll see better efficiencies but a little part of a more simple (yet somehow more complicated) way of life will disappear. Can I be happy and sad about this? If you want specific directions on how to travel by bus in San Jose please contact our concierge staff.
How fun! We are included on this Insider's Guide: 5 Fun Outdoor Activities in San Jose, Costa Rica.
You also don't want to miss the essential '5 Must Know Phrases in Costa Rica'. If you have questions about indoor OR outdoor activities to enjoy while you are in San Jose check out our concierge service.
Book 1 of 5 city walking tours.
"While Costa Rica is best known for its biodiversity, lush jungles, volcanoes, and abundance of beaches, San José has its own unique attractions. Erin Morris, from De la Pura Vida, is a US expat living in Costa Rica. She shares with us some of her favorite venues, activities and dishes that many visitors may not know to find READ MORE>> "
After living in Costa Rica for four years, I've had plenty of opportunities to head to the festival in Zapote that occurs each year over Christmas and New Year, and even more chances to catch a bullfight in any part of the country. But, I had never seen either, until last weekend.
In Costa Rica, we have a word for redneck - POLO. And, despite my country girl roots, I had deduced from the news and various Tico friends, that the Zapote festivals were too polo for me to attend. On Saturday however, my inner country child came out and we decided to head to Zapote with some other expat girlfriends to see just how Tico redneck the festivals really were.
After a 10 minute cab ride from downtown, we found ourselves wondering down a street lined with small bars full of cozy Christmas lights. We were hungry and on a mission to get a nice Chifrijo so we ducked into one of these welcoming establishments and ordered a round of cervezas. As the waitress informed us there was no Chifrijo, we frowned and then settled on patacones thinking we would find chifrijo somewhere else.
As we reentered the street full of people we started to notice the ambiance. It was very pleasant. The municipality just reported that they spent 75% more on the festival than the year before, but I think it paid off. I came expecting trash everywhere, drunk people falling on each other, dirt in the air and rides that would be falling apart. Instead, we immediately noticed how orderly it all was despite the dizzying lights from the very safe looking rides, music floating from different tents and varied aromas of carnival food.
We made our way between different food stands, never finding chifrijo but plenty of options for meat-on-a-stick, fried chicken, cantonese rice, chop suey, churros and candied apples. We ate and drank while taking in different cumbia/salsa shows amidst karaoke performances. Two of us decided to brave the swings, which called to us from its height, even after a few beers and food. We went screaming as we rose above all the other rides and soon were being thrust in 360 degrees with beautiful night views of the city. The ride lasted about 30 seconds more than we would have liked, but at least we kept our stomachs grounded!
To finish off the night we decided to check out the main event, the bull fights. The Costa Rica style of fighting is quite different than you might imagine. Instead of several phases using different weapons to take down the bull as done in Spain, Ticos like to hop in the ring, about 100 at a time with 1 bull and try to get as injured as possible.
This is easier for animal rights groups to watch and support, and matches with the attitude of Costa Ricans. However, after watching for about 10 minutes I decided personally it was still too much. The bull is in a state of distress while having to be defensive, and whether that's because it is being stabbed or simply provoked, I see it as unnecessary. It was an interesting experience but I'll be sticking to the rest of the very fun fair activities in the future.
To find out about other ways to explore San José see our city tour options.
By Stacey Auch.