The Road to Chirripó
Traveling south from San José, the road to Parque Nacional Chirripó passes through gorgeous countryside redolent of coffee plantations and cool, misty cloud forest. It bisects the Zona de los Santos, a collection of highland villages that bear sainted names: San Pablo de León Cortés, San Marcos de Tarrazú, San Cristóbal Sur, San Gerardo de Dota, Santa María de Dota – the last renowned for its superb, ecologically produced coffee. Further south in the Valle de El General, family-run fincas (farms) dot the fertile valley, though the action tends to center on San Isidro de El General, southern Costa Rica’s largest town and major transportation hub.
Travelers aiming for this region tend to have one of two goals in mind: hiking up Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica's tallest mountain and challenging high-altitude hike; or trying to spot the resplendent quetzal in the dense cloud forest that cloaks Cerro de La Muerte.