In the vicinity of Turrialba, at an elevation of 650m above sea level, the Río Reventazón gouges a mountain pass through the Cordillera Central. In the 1880s this geological quirk allowed the ‘Jungle Train’ between San José and Puerto Limón to roll through, and the mountain village of Turrialba grew prosperous from the coffee trade. Later, the first highway linking the capital to the coast exploited this same quirk. Turrialba thrived.
However, things changed by the early 1990s, when the straighter, smoother Hwy 32 through Guápiles was completed and an earthquake shut down the railway for good. Suddenly, Turrialba found itself off the beaten path. Even so, the area remains a key agricultural center, renowned for its strong coffee, ubiquitous cheese and Central America’s best white-water rafting. To the north, the area is home to two worthy sites: the majestic Volcán Turrialba and the archaeological site of Guayabo.