Located on the Eastern Caribbean side of Costa Rica, Partner members here are a very active, warm-hearted and happy group. Situated in the heart of Costa Rica’s banana growing region, about 60 kilometers and a one hour drive NE of San Jose, Guápiles serves as the country’s gateway between the Caribbean coast and the central highlands. Guápiles is the first major town located along Highway 32 when traveling from the capital city of San Jose to Puerto Limon. On a trip here in 2014, Oregonians were scheduled to arrive at the San Jose airport in the afternoon, but late planes out of Phoenix meant a late, 9pm arrival time. After a quick stop for some delicious food at a local chicken diner near the airport, 16 of us and all our luggage were on our way to Guápiles in a very nice, large tour bus, along with many of our Tico hosts. This is rainforest country, and at high elevations we found a lot of fog along Highway 32. We had an excellent driver, and all our new Tico friends made the trip even more enjoyable by singing songs and chatting with us about their lives, their families, and what we would be seeing that week. Around midnight, we finally made it safely to town and our homes amidst a very heavy tropical rain storm! Warm AND raining! It felt like Oregon in early autumn.
Due to it’s proximity to a number of national parks and ecological reserves, Guápiles is a perfect place to visit for those looking to explore the country’s natural beauty and abundant wildlife. With an increase in lodging facilities, the town itself has begun to dedicate more resources to eco-tourism, making it more than a simple stop-over on the way to the nearby parks and reserves.
On Saturdays, Partner members often take Oregonian cultural exchange guests to the downtown agricultural market, to buy fresh produce to eat at the very fun and well attended farewell banquet.
A nearby national park, Braulio Carrillo contains a number of dormant volcanoes, crater lakes and primary cloud and rainforests. Established in 1978, the park spans nearly 500 square kilometers and is home to a number of ecological habitats. In total, visitors to the park can find 600 identified tree species, more than 530 species of bird and 135 different mammals.
While it can only be accessed by airplane or boat, nearby Tortuguero National Park is the third-most visited park in Costa Rica. Due to its humid tropical climate and significant annual rainfall, the park is known for its remarkable biodiversity with more than 2,000 plant species. Spider monkeys, jaguars, crocodiles and a number of turtle species can be found within the park. The photo above is taken at the Tortuguero National Park, just NE of the town of Guápiles. Very often, Chapter members are taken to this location for several days and nights as part of the Adult Cultural Exchange. Read more about Tortuguero on our link Tortuguero National Park.