After a visit to the deserted wilderness of the national park, many visitors are ready to return to civilization and the company of other human beings. If that is the case, take the road to Turrialba, a town of 30,000 inhabitants. It is an important regional center for producing, packing and shipping coffee, sugar cane and bananas, which are harvested in the eastern Meseta Central.
The town is located 65 kilometers east of San Jose, at 650 meters above sea level. It nestles at the bottom of a valley that was once covered by a lake. For most of its existence, Turrialba has served as the gateway to the Atlantic. Until 1978 it lay on the only route between the capital and the Caribbean coast. Turrialba served as an important railway junction until the powerful 1991 earthquake destroyed the Atlantic Railroad.
Turrialba has few tourist sights to recommend it. The Parque La Dominica (a city park), six blocks west of the church, is a popular meeting place for young and old. Swimming is possible at Balneario Las Americas on the city’s east side on the road leading to CATIE.
CATIE, the Centro Agron6mico Tropical y Ensenanza, is just four kilometers east of Turrialba. It is the world’s most important research facility for tropical agriculture. For the casual visitor, the center offers a pond inhabited by rare waterfowl.
Visitors with a professional interest in agriculture can explore the 1,000-hectare complex more thoroughly, and use the library. Overnight accommodations are also available.
The road continues eastward (a fork veers off to Casa Turire), crossing the Rio Reventazon, Costa Rica’s most important white-water river, before beginning to climb toward a small pass.
The Hotel Turrialtico offers a superb view. The entrance to the Parque Viborana is a few kilometers from the hotel. This new snake farm is open to visitors and features 26 species of snake native to Costa Rica.
The Parque Viborana is 40 kilometers from the town of Siquirres, along a seldom used road that winds through the mountains and reveals incredibly beautiful vistas which never cease to amaze drivers.