Named for a Huetar chief who lived here at the time of the conquest, Orosi charmed Spanish colonists in the 18th century with its perfect climate, rich soil and wealth of water – from lazy hot springs to bracing waterfalls. So, in the typical fashion of the day, they decided to take the property off Orosi’s hands.
Orosi to Paraíso
From Orosi, a loop road heads north and parallels the Río Orosi before swinging around the artificial Lago de Cachí. The lake was created following the construction of the Cachí Dam (the largest in the country), which supplies San José and the majority of the Central Valley with electricity.
Though the village of Paraíso isn't all that its name implies, it does lead to the wonderful Orosi Valley beyond. About 3km east of Cartago on the road to Paraíso, the University of Costa Rica runs the exceptional Lankester Gardens (look for a faded pink monolith marking the turnoff).
Parque Nacional Tapantí-Macizo Cerro de la Muerte
This 580-sq-km national park protects the lush northern slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca, and has a rainy claim to fame: it is the wettest park in the country, getting almost 8000mm of precipitation a year. In 2000 it was expanded to include the infamous Cerro de la Muerte – otherwise known as the ‘Mountain of Death.