Heredia Province is located northwest of the city of San Jose between the Provinces of Alajauela and Limon all the way to the border of Nicaragua. It covers a large area that is diverse in altitude, landscape and biological forces of nature along with a host of architecture of the Costa Rican culture. With all of these wonders, as you travel through Heredia Province, you will see amazing primary forest, tropical dry forests, montane forest, as well as subalpine forest. The biological diversity experienced in each gives the visitor a sense of spanning time with a glimpse of how these wonderful areas originate and separate from one another. Flora and fauna are evident in each but the differences of what thrives in the environment of each is amazing to view as you trek the trails and get off of the beaten paths.
The city of Heredia is the capital of the province and often called the City of Flowers. Once entering the city and the small cantones surrounding it you quickly realize why this name has been given. The flora in the area is magnificent leading it to be a main source exported to various parts of the world through the closest port in Limon Province. The city itself is located 12km north of San Jose with most of it's Cantones lying in close proximity to it's capital. The city of Heredia holds the main distribution center (CENADA) for the country as well as a large University that is widely attended by students from around the country. There are several historical sights within the city that give display to the architecture as well as the Central Park which is filled daily with the students that attend the University. Because this area has many travelers for one reason or another, there are abundant choices for accommodations, restaurants and tours to select from. Check out the tabs of our sight to find one that fits to your travel plans while visiting this area.
As you leave the city you will notice small districts laid out that form the heart of the agricultural land this area is known for. The climate and terrain of the land make it an easy choice for the crops of coffee, sugar cane, beans, corn and the numerous dairy farms located here. That, along with the proximity of the main port in Limon Province, give way to the agricultural goods that make there way there through the distribution center located in Heredia. While the coffee crops are the primary export from the area, the other crops follow to the distribution center and then on to other parts of Costa Rica. Don't let the fact that this area is used for crops deceive you in thinking there are no sights that would interest the visitor as the small towns are charming and offer much.
Barva is a charming town, quaint and small, and is home to the Cafe Britt coffee plantation. They offer educational tours of the farm giving the visitor both knowledge and sights as a part of the insight to the planting and harvesting of this well known coffee. Barva is located near several entrances to Braulio Carillo National Park with tours and trails to the inactive Barva Volcano, often called Las Tres Marias or The Three Marys. It has several dozen eruptive spots in the summit making the three peaks most distinctive being easily seen from the central valley and giving it it's nickname of Las Tres Marias. The views are great at the summit with just as much opportunity to see wonderful species of flora and fauna on your way. Stop at the small town of Sacramento on your way and gather a picnic to enjoy in the park as it makes a great family day to see the sights and enjoy the refreshing outdoors.
San Rafael, a small town on the way to the Brauilo Carillo National Park, is also a good stopping point for various trails that follow the many rivers that wind through it's land. You can visit a beautiful gothic style church in the small village or visit Bosque del Rio de la Hoja (Leaf River Forest) and the Castillo Puente Piedra which make a great way to spend some time in this little town found among the agriculture heart of this peaceful area.
Brauilo Carillo National Park makes up a huge portion of Heredia's Province and its many peaks rise above the Cordillera Central that runs along the base. The park has six major rivers running through it, all cascading down into the central valley to join other outlets until dispersing itself somewhere along the coast into the Pacific. Along these vast rivers there is abundant fish, otters, turtles, monkeys, crocks, birds and sloths along with some great waterfalls and flora. Volcanos, forest reserves and abundant rivers and waterfalls make it the perfect park to spend the day.
From Puerto Viejo you can easily take the river downstream from one of the many boats in the local village there. They offer any type of tour you could find interest in and navigate the waters of the rivers very well. Above Puerto Viejo the rivers are swift and not easy to navigate and all visitors above this area should seek guides that know the water and it's hidden rocks well. There are some great spots for white water rafting for the experts as well as some that even the expert should not tackle. For those wanting to traverse the entire park by water and trails, there is a local airport at Pangola with qualified guides to get you down river. Very few hotels exist in this region of Heredia Province but there are cabins and camping areas that do accommodate a limited number of visitors.
Cantons: Heredia, Barva, Santo Domingo, Santa Barbara, San Rafael, San Isidro, Belen, Flores and San Pablo.
Heredia Province holds many sights for the visitor and is a wonderful place to see the beautiful landscape of the forest, the architecture, agricultural foothills as well as flora and fauna beyond belief.
Photo Credits: Donar Reiskoffer [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons, By Felivalverde (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons, By Tillor87 (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons