The small mountain town of Santa Maria de Dota may be less congested than larger cities, but it is home to some of the best destinations in Costa Rica
. Boasting the best coffee
in the country, some of the most intense hiking and eclectic array of bird species, Santa Maria de Dota is ideal for independent travelers or families.
Santa Maria sits along the mountainous highlands of south-central Costa Rica, and is about 40 miles south of San Jose
. One of the community's biggest claims to fame is the shade-grown Tarrazu coffee that thrives in the volcanic soil of the area. Coopedota, a local cooperative, is the perfect day trip for any caffeine fanatic. Coopedota is one of the longest-standing and most successful names in the Costa Rican coffee industry - a fact that becomes obvious during a tasting. Since 1865, unique blends have been regarded world-wide as some of the finest.
Need even more of a java boost? The Dota Estate produces exclusive blends on a 13-acre Down to Earth plantation, all uniquely created from red and yellow Arabica Catuai beans. Because of the ideal micro-climate of Santa Maria de Dota, the highly regarded coffee is truly one-of-a-kind. Travelers can go on a day tour, night and day excursion or seven day coffee origin program.
Travelers who want to get up close and personal with Costa Rica wildlife should look no further. Throughout Santa Maria de Dota, there are more than 200 bird species, making it an ideal spot for bird watching. The high elevation of the town attracts woodpeckers, warblers, falcons, owls and quetzal - just to name a few! If you're a true ornithology fanatic, look to plan your trip in April or May, when bird watching is at its prime.
Hoping for an outdoor adventure? Look no further than the Los Quetzales National Park and Cerro de la Muerte. Los Quetzales stretches for more than 12,300 acres, including what was formerly known as the Los Santos Forest Reserve. With three types of rainforest and 14 ecosystems set alongside the Talamancan mountain range, Los Quetzales can be entered by way of Cerro de la Muerte. The park saddles the Rio Savegre, allowing for a diverse array of flora and fauna to reside in the region. At the higher altitudes, travelers will see oak and cypress trees, while other areas are lush with aguacatillo trees.
Don't be deterred by the name Cerro de la Muerte, which translates to Mountain of the Dead. Recommended for keen hikers, the hike through Cerro de la Muerto takes about 6 hours and offers unbelievable views. From the summit of Costa Rica's second tallest mountain, Cerro Buena Vista, it's possible to see both coasts and (possibly) erupting volcanoes.
For a taste of the finest cup of Joe or the most pristine view of Costa Rica's sprawl, a visit to Santa Maria de Dota should make it to any travelers agenda.