Santiago de Puriscal, San Jose

View from Santiago de Puriscal
View from Santiago de Puriscal
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Agriculture is one of the most important and most lucrative industries in Costa Rica. In addition to providing food and tobacco for the country and for other parts of the world, the country's agriculture brings in many travelers as well. This is especially true in the picturesque area of Santiago de Puriscal.

About the Area

Commonly referred to as either Santiago or Puriscal, the land of Santiago de Puriscal is overlooked by a stunning church. The capital city is in the province of San José and is located just 12 miles west of Ciudad Colón. While this rural town is mostly a vacation destination for native Ticos, the area is also becoming increasingly popular with foreign travelers. However, whereas most native people spend their entire vacation in the area, foreigners often visit the area as a day trip during their longer vacations to larger destinations. One reason the area is so popular is that it is known to have the perfect climate. With an average altitude of 3,600 feet, this part of Costa Rica typically sees moderate temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take 10 degrees. The lack of wind and longer green season also make it quite attractive.

A Look at Native Living

For many foreign travelers, the area of Cesteria Quitirrisi is appealing because it is possible to see how Ticos live their daily lives. One local family has crafted native nature- and culture-inspired home decor and kitchen accessories for more than 50 years. Visitors can also learn how the area's women use pita and tule, along with natural dyes, to create beautiful bags, hats, table runners, baskets and many other personal and home accessories. The look at a simpler life is often serene and relaxing for those who may be used to a faster pace in a larger city.

Rancho Mastatal Environmental Learning Center and Lodge

Of course, the Costa Rica landscapes are not to be missed when visiting San Jose and nearby Santiago de Puriscal. Just 18 miles southwest of Puriscal is Rancho Mastatal Environmental Learning Center and Lodge. The private wildlife refuge sits on 219 acres and features more than four miles of trails. Pristine and serene, the trails wind through dense forests, and the learning center teaches both local and foreign visitors about the importance of environmental justice and sustainable living. Botany enthusiasts will enjoy visiting nearby La Cangreja National Park as well. Sitting on nearly 2,300 hectares, the virgin forest is both tropical and mountainous and features more than 200 different plant species. Several of the species are only found in this location.

Shopping in Santiago de Puriscal

While visiting and learning about Santiago is an excellent way to support the area's locals, spending money in the rural town also boosts its economy. In fact, with so many different items to purchase and enjoy, it is practically impossible not to spend at least a few dollars. Travelers will find everything from fresh produce and high-quality tobacco to handmade goods. Tobacco connoisseurs will enjoy visiting Vegas de Puriscal. The family-owned tobacco farm and factory creates some of the best cigars in the world and has done so for more than 80 years. Visitors can tour the factory and purchase items between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each weekday.

Whether you are visiting nearby San Jose and taking a day trip to Santiago de Puriscal, or you are spending your entire vacation hiking and touring the rural area, it is important to respect the land and the local people. Remember, Costa Rica agriculture is an important means of income for local families. When visiting, stay on trails, never litter and avoid picking flowers or otherwise damaging the native plants. Like any other area, weather can be unpredictable. Wear comfortable shoes, dress in layers and bring sunscreen, bug spray and water to ensure a safe, comfortable and enjoyable trip.
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