Your day has an early start as your tour staff picks you up from your hotel to take you to the Eastern side of the Central Valley and into the province of Cartago.
You will be on the Pan-American Highway for a while until your transportation takes a detour to start ascending the mighty Irazú Volcano.
You will pass through some of the most beautiful agricultural regions of Costa Rica. You will rise on a paved road passing luscious dairy fields, yellow mustard, white bloomed potato plants, and thick oat plantations.
Picturesque towns will be on both sides of the road, and almost from any point, you can see the Central Valley panorama growing smaller in the distance or disappearing under the clouds in this plane-like view.
As you arrive in the Irazú Volcano National Park, you will be above the tree line, so you will witness the low shrubs that populate the park.
Close to the parking lot, there are restrooms and a cozy cafeteria where you can prepare to take a walk with your tour guide.
You will see three craters in a moonlike landscape, the main one is awe-inspiring with dozens of cracks and different shades of gray and dark red and a couple fumaroles in its turquoise lagoon.
Your tour guide will tell you all about the natural history of the Irazú, as this is the volcano that affects the most the people of San José and the Central Valley.
Its eruptions of 1963-1965 almost bankrupted the country as the ashes covered both borders and reached both oceans, blanketing all coffee and banana plantations on the way.
You will walk by the almost surreal scenario on the way back to the vehicle and then start descending to the nearby city of Cartago, the first capital of Costa Rica and home of the Patron Saint of the country, the Virgin of the Angels.
There will be a short stop to visit the most important catholic church and the dearest pilgrimage sanctuary for the Costa Ricans. The legend says that it was in this place where a little indigenous girl found a figure of the virgin near a creek.
Nowadays there is a big basilica with breathtaking Byzantine architecture, and the shrine is underneath, next to the holy water fountains.
As you leave the church, you will go with your transportation and guide to the beautiful Lankester Gardens.
Lankester Gardens is a biological research station that belongs to the University of Costa Rica. With more than 8000 varieties of orchids, it also holds a vast collection of bromeliads, cacti, and heliconia (Like birds of paradise).
As you enter the gardens, and after visiting the nurseries where there are usually species in bloom, you will notice that Lankester Gardens are beyond a research laboratory, it is a peaceful and strikingly beautiful tropical garden.
With sections dedicated to bamboo (a tiny Japanese realm in the middle of Costa Rica) and the succulent (Cacti) garden, the walk is not only interesting but very relaxing.
As you walk out of the garden, your tour guide and driver will take you to the spectacular Orosi Valley.
At the very end of the Central Valley, there is a gorge that opens to the Reventazón River. And an artificial lake that allows one of the most important hydroelectrical sources of this region.
The view is breathtaking, to say the least.
As you go down the Orosi Valley, it gets merely closer, until you just see the road up, from the bottom.
This is a very fertile place with all sorts of plantations and coffee. You will stop at the old colonial church of Orosi, a Franciscan sanctuary that still works and gives mass every Sunday.
Afterward, you will go to a coffee hacienda and restaurant for a delicious typical lunch near the lake.
On the way back you will stop at a viewpoint to enjoy the fantastic landscapes and then, get back to the hotel.
*The tour does not operate on Mondays or Tuesdays.