Cartago Province

Cartago Province lies to the east of San Jose Province and to the west of Limon Province.  The majority of this province lays between a mountain volcano center, which includes Volcanos Tirrialba and Irazu to the northeast, and the mountains of Chirripo to the southwest.  Most of the terrain is steep reaching a variety of elevations but gives great opportunities to see the incredible wildlife and flora that exists in these changing environments.  It is also the terrain that leaves this small province less populated than others but the tourism in the area is consistent and growing.  Many speculate that the past eruptions have hindered both new residents and reconstruction of some of the buildings and while fresh ash spews from Irazu on occasion, there has not been a major eruption since 1910.  What the region lacks in population it makes up by being rich in tradition and culture which is very obvious in both the cities and small districts that make up the small province.

Cartago is the capital of the Province and lies at the base of the super Irazu Volcano through the Orosi Valley and along the mountain ridge that leads south to Cerro de la Muerte.  The city is the oldest settlement of Costa Rica dating back to 1563 and remained the country's capital until 1823 when it lost the title to San Jose.  This blow caused the area to decline for many years but it has steadily been taking the steps to make renovations to some of the older buildings and parks and continues to improve the area in an attempt to draw tourists.  

Cartago participates in the annual Procession of the Miracles (Procesion de los Milagros) each August 2nd as the final stopping point for this Holy tradition. Pilgrims from all around Costa Rica and Central America descend on San Jose, the starting point of the procession, and travel the 16 miles to Cartago carrying heavy wooden crosses.  The procession ends with ceremony at the Basillica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles which stands in the main square of the city.  Heartwarming and inspirational are but a few of the words to describe this age old tradition and anyone traveling in this area during it should make a point to add it to their travel plans.

The easiest path to see some of this province is on the well known Orosi Valley drive. Starting southeast of Paraiso, the winding road takes you around the flanks of the Talamanca mountains, along the shores of Lake Cachi (Lago de Cachi) through some of the small villages and loops back around to Paraiso.  The backdrops of the mountains with the steep gorges can be seen all along the way but there are great places at Mirador Orosi, Ujarras and Orosi to stop and enjoy additional sights off the road.  You can enjoy hot mineral pools, horseback riding, tours of plantations, wildlife and historical sights, as well as see the traditions and culture that make this province special. 

Main Attractions / Towns in Cartago Province

Basillica de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles Chirripo National Park El Jardin Botanico Lankester
Irazu Volcano National Park Orosi Valley Tapanti National Park
Tirrialba Volcano National Park Ujarras  

Cantons: Cartago, Paraiso, La Union, Jimenez, Turrialba, Alvarado, Oreamuno, and El Guarco.

There are a variety of accommodations scattered through the province but it is best to refer to the accommodations tab to ensure you are able to find the locations of some of the less traveled areas.  Let us know your feedback, using our "Review" system, on those you visit so we can keep up to date information on the best places allowing future visitors the benefit of your stay.

Photo Contribution: Dirk van der Made [dirkvdM orosi valley bird] under this CC license, © Martin Battiti© Timurk |