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Alajuela

Location 56 miles (90 km) NW of San José, 21 miles (33 km) N of San Ramón.

Owner Marco Hidalgo grows and exports more than 20 species of ornamental plants to Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Guests can visit greenhouses and packing sheds. The farm includes 150 acres (60 ha) of forest and an abundance of mountain streams. The tall forest’s understory is a natural tropical greenhouse with heliconias and fascinating tree roots. I watched one masked tityra feed another. An aracari, a member of the toucan family, frustrated my attempts to photograph him but allowed wonderful glimpses. Near one trail is a huge tree with enormous buttresses where bats live.

Wide forest trails begin and and at the plantation. The lodge offers a tour – on foot, horseback, or mountain bike – to the San Lorenzo River for a swim in a natural pool or a hike to a three-tiered waterfall. They offer a guided tour of the ornamental plant farm combined with a forest hike. A trail hike without guide is free to hotel guests. Elevation is about 2,000 feet (600 m); temperature ranges from 68°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C). Day visitors are welcome.

Getting there By bus : From San Ramón, take La Tigra/La Fortuna bus to sign at turnoff, short hike in. By car : From San Ramón, turn north for La Tigra and watch for “Valle Escondido” sign. Other : transfers provided; or take a taxi from San Ramón.

Source: Costa Rica Adventures in Nature by Ree Strange Sheck, John Muir Publications, Santa Fee, New Mexico. 

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