The Opera House in San Jose (Cindy McKinnon)
Day 4 –Another hair-raising drive up and around Turrialba Volcano, its peak invisible in the clouds, brings us to a valley overlooking Cartago, the original capital of Costa Rica until 1823. Having suffered from two devastating earthquakes in 1841 and 1910, the town once again bustles with traffic, tourists, and a large local market which we pass. The road continues upward with more winding curves where busses and trucks pass each other, ignoring the double yellow lines. Thinking the drive couldn’t get any more dangerous, heavy fog develops in the upper elevations where the air grows colder. We pass several ambulances and other emergency vehicles pulled over to the side, obviously the site of a recent accident but no crash is visible, just men rappelling over a cliff to investigate or remove bodies from the wreckage that must be visible below our view. We vow never to drive in Costa Rica and are again thankful for our safety conscious driver.
Savegre Hotel, our next destination for two nights, is nestled deep in a cloud forest where the ecosystem supports a large number of mammals, insects, amphibians, plants and colorful birds like the Resplendent Quetzal. The Savegre Reserve, 80% of which is made up of virgin forest, is a living research laboratory by institutions from around the world. As we check in to the lodge, we pause to admire the many varieties of hummingbirds that whiz past us, lighting on feeders, bougainvillea and hibiscus bushes. The grounds are magnificent with giant cannas, hydrangeas, yellow daisy-like flowers on overhanging arbors that arch over the paths leading to the quaint cottage accommodations. Our rooms have fireplaces which we will need at night in the cool mountain air. Dinner served buffet style is lavish in this remote setting and includes local grilled trout, fried plantains, and sumptuous desserts.
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