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.
By Stacey Auch.