San Jose – Heredia – Alajuela – Guanacaste – Puntarenas – Limon – Cartago
Alajuela is replete with many natural treasures, most of them being guarded in different National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and other Protected Areas. Arenal Volcano, Poás Volcano and Tenorio Volcano are some of the most visited National Parks in the province. It should be noted, that the capital city of this province is Alajuela, with Ciudad Quesada being another important city in the province. Ciudad Quesada lies at the foot of the Central Mountain on the Southern end of the San Carlos Plain and it is nearly 80 km northwest of the capital city of Alajuela.
Many associate Alajuela with the warm and sunny climate that characterizes the city of the same name and the various towns in the western end of the Central Valley that also belong to this large and populous province. However, the vast majority of the provincial territory lies on the other side of the volcanic cordilleras, extending north to the Nicaraguan border. This sprawling area in the northern lowlands is under the influence of weather conditions coming in off the Caribbean Sea and was formerly covered in extensive tracts of majestic rain forest. Recent agricultural colonization of the northern frontier has severely altered the natural landscape (witness the paucity of national parks in the region), and very likely has affected the climate to some degree, resulting in hotter and slightly drier conditions, even though this is still an area of high annual rainfall (local inhabitants claim it rains 13 months out of the year). Even wetter, and much cooler, conditions exist along the Caribbean-facing slopes of the cordilleras, which reach a height of 2,704 meters above sea level on the summit of Poás Volcano.
Following the establishment of the city of Cartago in the latter part of the 16th century, the incipient population began expanding westward. By the beginning of the 18th century, the population of Heredia had grown such that it became a second base of expansion, again to the west.
In the last few decades, with an extensive network of all-weather roads constructed in this once isolated region, cattle and crop production have come to dominate the countryside and a thriving agricultural economy now exists which supplies much of the nation’s corn, beans, and fruit and vegetable produce.
1) Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge
2) Arenal National Park
3) Poás Volcano National Park
4) Juan Castro Blanco National Park