Horquetas, Heredia & Ujarras, Cartago
In the Province of Heredia the small rural village of Horquetas offers extreme experiences. Horquetas is located on the road from Guapiles to Sarapiqui. Coming from San Jose in the Central Valley you will have beautiful drive through the mountains of the Braulio Carillo National Park. The winding road offers magnificent views over the dense green virgin rainforest.
Just before entering the crossroad of Rio Frio close to Guapiles you have a view of the Caribbean lowlands and the planes of the Sarapiqui region. By then it’s only a 30 minute drive to Horquetas. The town itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s central location makes it a perfect starting point for tours to the Braulio Carillo National Park, the Aerial Tram or to jungle reserves around Sarapiqui.
For the more adventurous there is white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River and there are various canopy tours. If you prefer luxury Horquetas has a perfect destination in the form of the Sueno Azul Hotel and Spa.
Peacefully situated on a former hacienda (ranch) the hotel with 55 rooms offers all the commodities for the spoilt traveller such as a good restaurant with local and international food, pools, spa, meditation and yoga room.
The other extreme that Horquetas offers is the Rara Avis Jungle Lodge and Reserve. A rustic lodge in the middle of a thick rainforest. The lodge has an office in Horquetas from where the trip to the lodge begins. The rustic lodge is situated in such an isolated area, that the only way to get there is by a three hour long ride by tractor that will even take you past El Plastico, Horqeuta’s former penal colony where the inmates slept deep inside the jungle under a tarp. The lodge itself is close to a beautiful waterfall, making it one of the top sustainable destination in Costa Rica.
Close to the Cachi lake in the Province of Cartago the small village of Ujarrs is located. Ujarras is not far San Jose an is easy to reach through the city of Cartago. The Ujarra Valley, part of Costa Rica’s Central Valley Metropolitan Area, is one on the most beautiful.
The main attraction in Ujarras are the ruins of the medieval Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, constructed in the middle of the 16th century has a curious history. It is said that the church of Ujarras, before it was destroyed by floodings and earthquakes, contained a paining of the Virgin Mary, that was found in a box discovered by an Indigenous fisherman. However they were not able to move the box and built a limestone church on top of the box.
The powers of the Virgin of Ujarras are credited for miraculous bell ringing as a flood warning and helping to stop a rampage in 1666 of Morgan’s pirates coming in from the Caribbean Coast. Not much is left of the church nowadays and the painting has vanished, but you can have stroll through the gardens that surround the ruins of Ujarra. Every year there is special mass for the Virgin of Ujarras with processions in nearby Orosi and Ujarras, that attract many pilgrims.
Higher up the mountain side there are some nice places to have something to eat or drink and enjoy a beautiful view over the valley the artificial Lake Cachi and the white water rafting Reventazon River making his way to the Caribbean side of the mountains. Only a couple of kilometres outside Ujarras you can find the enormous dam that forms Lake Cachi and generates hydroelectric energy, Costa Rica’s prime source of electricity.