Turrialba: Area Description
The name Turrialba is derived from the indigenous word "Torriulka"
which means white columns of smoke and water. Today the "smoke"
is represented by the constant steam and gas emissions from
nearby Irazu and Turrialba Volcanoes. These are part of the
surrounding mountains that loom majestically above this verdant
river valley on the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. The "water"
is represented by the rivers and waterfalls that cascade through
the region’s extraordinary ecosystem of exotic plants
and animals. It also creates a year round whitewater paradise
for river enthusiasts from around the world.
Attractively hidden from the main flow of tourism, Turrialba’s
location lies on the border between the provinces of Cartago
and Limon in a mountain valley on the Atlantic slope at an
elevation of about 2000 ft. To the north lies Braulio Corrillo
National Park, which features over 6,000 plant species that
account for half the total amount in the country. The park
is also full of primary forests, cloud forests and rain forests
full of different types of animals. To the south lies the
second highest peak in Central America, the 12,900-Ft. high
Mount Chirripo. From its summit on a clear day, hikers can
see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, truly one of the
most amazing sites in all of Costa Rica. Also to the south
is the Chirripo Atlantic River basin, locally known as ‘The
Grand Canyon of Costa Rica’, which connects this region
to the largest National Park in the country La Amistat. Eastward
the mighty Reventazon River churns and rumbles its way downward
towards the Caribbean coast paralleled by one of the top 10
rivers in the world to raft and kayak the majestic, wild and
breathtaking Pacuare River.The well-kept secret of this unique
mountain community is its people, both in the town center
and in the numerous pueblos in the surrounding area. There
are over 70,000 inhabitants of the Turrialba valley and the
town is its social, political, economic and cultural heart.
Here, the people are famous for their love of life, outgoing
natures and devotion to family. This spirit radiates to all
who visit and spend time here. Visitors become a part of this
extended family and can feel as safe and secure as if it were
their own hometown.
The central part of town is a 10 square block area, which
encompasses the soccer stadium, 2 theaters, 7 gymnasiums,
4 banks, numerous churches and a central park. There are also
over 23 restaurants and bars as well as 3 dance clubs for
those seeking excitement and nightlife. For the more adventurous,
the surrounding countryside has become a focal point for many
different outdoor activities. Just a few minutes from downtown
you will find mountain biking, rock climbing, repelling, bungee
jumping and horseback riding.
The valley of Turrialba presents a great diversity of habitats,
and is one of the most important regions in the country for
supplying drinking water and the production of hydroelectric
power. When it comes to wildlife, incredible is the word that
best describes the fauna of the area. In this valley alone
there are over 550 different types of birds, 150 different
mammals and more than 130 species of amphibians and reptiles.
Not far from town to the north is the most important archaeological
site in all of Costa Rica, the 3,000 year old Guayabo National
Monument. This is an extremely interesting discovery and sheds
new light on the mysterious inhabitants who once lived in
the region. Since there were no great civilizations in the
region such as the Mayans or Incas, very little is known of
the life of the small and scattered tribes in the area that
has become Costa Rica. Each year more discoveries are unearthed
and with them greater understanding of Costa Rica’s
AEC, through its different activities, excursions and tours
endeavors to present this amazing and wonderful area of Costa
Rica to our students. Turrialba is a hidden away part of this
remarkable country and a joy to all who have made its acquaintance.