Cloudy with a Chance of Volcanoes

I had one day for super fun times in Costa Rica before starting the business part of my business trip, so I went on a day trip to see a nearby volcano called Irazu that looks beautiful in the photo below (courtesy of wikipedia). It last erupted in 1963.

I don’t normally use photos not taken by myself but the visit to the volcano was not the most successful trip I have ever taken. The top was covered in cloud and mist and I saw very little from the peak. It was a real shame to be honest and if you are planning on doing the trip, I would check the weather to ensure you leave on a day that isn't overcast. And while we are talking about weather, I just want to say that it was nippy up the volcano. I brought a jacket but my legs got cold and only recovered after I had a coffee. Take long trousers and a coat for sure.

Okay, so she's a Coyote (not a dog)

My unprepared legs were exposed.
Nearly seeing the crater

Central American White Nosed Coati
Very cool!
The journey to the volcano was interesting and I got to see the surrounding villages and landscape. Costa Rica is a very green and beautiful country with many hills. The area and the journey were really very beautiful.

Next up on the trip was the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels – the most famous Christian site in Costa Rica. It is located in the old capital, Santiago, and was really quite different to the other thousands of churches I have visited over the many years. The interior had a lot of pillars. There were more pointless columns than a tabloid newspaper.

Also visitors were doing this bizarre act of kneeling before entering the church, then knee shuffling down the aisle to the front. It was really odd behaviour being carried out by a large group of people. It was a sign of respect of where they were but it must have been pretty painful on the old kneecaps.

The Orosi valley was beautiful and we stopped at a viewpoint called, “Mirador Ujarras“. From here I got some great views of the valley and the lake where we would be eating lunch.

The tour stopped by this church on 
its way down to the restaurant
The restaurant was surrounded by beauty. I won’t go into the details of the food yet, as another post is coming, but it was very nice. The Sunday tour had a special buffet lunch and is apparently a lot nicer than the normal weekday / Saturday lunch.

After lunch the tour went to the Lankester gardens. Built by a Brit (get in!) and now owned by the University of Costa Rica, it had a stunning array of orchids and various other plants. I also learnt about epiphytes. These are non-parasitic growths on trees (pictured below).
I had to cross this bridge to get to the gardens.

Tiny orchids on one plant

Recognise this?

A Japanese Garden, not too dissimilar from the ones we saw in Kyoto.


It really was a lovely tour and besides the bad weather, it couldn't have been better (unless Katie had been there of course). Donald the tour guide was very knowledgeable and I now know more about orchids than is healthy for a 26 year old man. He also had an unbelievable skill of being able to switch languages instantly to inform the group in English and Spanish. I don't know how that's possible...

Donald showing us an orchid
that only lived for one day
How to go on the tour?
Booked through Viatour (part of the TripAdvisor family) for $99 (£65). It included a hotel pickup / drop off and that incredible lunch so didn't Costa lot. I love that companies call themselves a family to try and personalise and make them sound friendlier and less profit driven. They obviously don’t know my family :)

Until next time, when I will chat about San Jose and the sights to see in Costa Rica's capital.