Alfaro Ruiz County: 1.736 meters above sea level. 20 Km to the north of Naranjo and 69 Km from San José, 48 Km from Alajuela and 30 Km from San Carlos (Ciudad Quesada). When the road was opened to the north of San Carlos and Los Guatusos the pioneers found a beautiful valley where there where a lot of zarzamora (blackberry) plants; they began to call the area El Zarcero. Later on a house was built so that travelers would have somewhere to stay. It was here where people began to settle and it grew into a small village. The inhabitants found fertile soil to cultivate fruit and vegetable crops. The climate is pleasant throughout the year, although a little fresh because of the altitude. Average temperatures are between 16ºC and 18ºC; and this is why delicious peaches are grown here, a rare fruit in the rest of the country. Vegetable and flowers for exportation are also grown here. Zarcero is also known for its dairy products, such as a variety of fresh cheese from palm. A dessert also known as stuffed grapefruit is also very popular as well as peach conserves. The population is surrounded by green mountains covered in small forests of the slender cypress trees. The most visited place in Zarcero is the famous park, located opposite the church, with a large variety of flowers and bushes and shrubs, sculpted into human figures, animals and planes.
How to arrive and leave.
Buses to Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos), via Zarcero, frequently depart from the North Atlantic Terminal in San José. Zarcero (buses direct from San José) – Departs every day, every hour from 5:00 a.m until 7:30 p.m; Return departures from 5:00 a.m until 7:30 p.m; 77 Km; 2:00 hrs. The Ciudad Quesada bus is to the east, it passes by Zarcero. There are also bus services from Alajuela. The trip to San José-Zarcero takes around two hours, and from Alajuela an hour and a half. The route begins in Zarcero departing from the red colored bus stops, located on the north east corner of the plaza where you will find the church. The vehicles that travel to the north travel 35 Km through the Central Cordillera above Ciudad Quesada.
Juan Castro Calvo National Park
It has an extension of 14.258 hectares and was created in 1992 to preserve the rainforest from the deforestation of the hillsides of the Platanar (2.183 m) and Porvenir (2.267 m) volcanoes. The laterals have several rivers. The non-mountainous rainforest as well as the cloud forest hold a great diversity of flora and fauna and safeguard the quality of the water. There is almost no infrastructure for visitors. You can enter by driving 18 Km towards the north of Sarchí until you reach the Bajos del Toro Amarillo village, which borders the park. An alternative route is shorter that the last one and runs along the east of Zarcero. From Bajos del Toro Amarillo there are footpaths and roads for 4×4 vehicles that run within the park following alongside the Rio Toro, created in 1995. In the surrounding area there are several waterfalls, some of them dried out because of the hydroelectric project.
Where to eat and sleep.
Hotel Don Beto Ph (506) 2463-3137, fax (506) 2443-2509. www.donbeto.com. Double with breakfast 25/ 30/ 35 US$. It has eight rooms; four of them share two bathrooms and the other have a private bathroom. The owner has a lot of local information and can organize guided tours, rafting, horseback trips and transfer to the airport in a minibus for 14 people with a bilingual chauffer and doctor, transfers to any part of the country.
Fraijanes Lagoon Ph (506) 2482-2166. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m to 3:30 p.m. This lake of 1.5 hectares is surrounded by forest, footpaths, picnic and play areas, in a fresh and clean climate, that makes it a good stop off point on the way to the Poás Volcano. It is 15 Km to the north of Alajuela on route 130. Entry is 1.60 US$ and children younger than 12 years of age don’t pay. Offering a cabin for two people with lamps and an American cooker for 11.40 US$ and four cabins for 8 people for 23 US$. The lagoon formed in 1889 as a consequence of a strong earthquake.
Poás Canopy Tours Ph (506) 2430-4575/ 2430-4113, fax (506) 2443-5896/ 2482-2605. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.colinasdelpoas.com. Open everyday from 8:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. Located on the outskirts of the Poás Volcano. Its attractions are the Canopy Tour, La Trucheria restaurant, trout fishing and sale of lots. The Poás Canopy Tour is the main adventure attraction on this mountain site. Meeting strict security and quality regulations, conforming to the standards and policies recommended by the International Association of Extreme Sports, with 24 platforms situated on main trees, a spectacular route has been designed above the tree tops. The route of approximately two hours, will take you along the tree tops with 14 high cables, with the help and supervision of expert guides and professionals. This adventure culminates with a cable of 600 meters in length. Prices per person for foreigners and nationals 35/ 45 US$ and 20/ 22 US$.
How to arrive and leave
Laguna de Fraijanes from Alajuela – Departs from Monday to Friday, 3 blocks west of the Central Market: 9:00 a.m, 1:00 p.m, 4:15 p.m, 6:15 p.m; returning 6:00 a.m, 10:00 a.m, 2:00 p.m, 5:00 p.m; 15 Km;50 minutes. Saturday from 6:30 a.m, 8:00 a.m, Sunday 7:00 a.m, 5:15 p.m. Fraijanes opens Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 a.m to 3:30 p.m.