Most of the whitewater rafting companies in Costa Rica have an operational base in Turrialba, and the put-in points for several of the more popular river trips are nearby.
In addition to rafting and kayaking, Explornatura ★★ ((tel) 866/571-2443 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2556-0111 in Costa Rica; www.explornatura.com) is an excellent local adventure tour operator that offers a range of activities, including canopy and canyoning tours, horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. The canyoning tour ★★ is a wet adventure that includes several rappels down the face of rainforest waterfalls.
Guayabo National Monument ★ ((tel) 2559-1220) is Costa Rica’s premier pre-Columbian archaeological site. It’s 19km (12 miles) northeast of Turrialba and preserves a town site that dates from between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 1400. Archaeologists believe that Guayabo might have supported a population of as many as 10,000 people, but no clues yet explain why the city was abandoned shortly before the Spanish arrived in the New World. Excavated ruins consist of paved roads, aqueducts, stone bridges, and house and temple foundations. The site also has gravesites and petroglyphs. The monument is open daily from 8am to 3:30pm. This is a national park, and admission is $6.
Hovering over the town, the Turrialba Volcano National Park ★★ holds nearly 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) of lush rainforest, as well as its namesake 3,340m (10,955-ft.) volcano. Recent volcanic activity has closed the park to the public. When it’s open, it is possible to hike to the volcano’s summit, which offers fantastic views. It’s best to visit as part of a tour, as the final 8km (5 miles) to the park entrance is on a rough road.
Botanists and gardeners will want to pay a visit to the Center for Agronomy Research and Development ★ (CATIE; (tel) 2556-2700; www.catie.ac.cr), which is located 5km (3 miles) southeast of Turrialba on the road to Siquirres. This center is one of the world’s foremost facilities for research into tropical agriculture. Among the plants on CATIE’s 810 hectares (2,000 acres) are hundreds of varieties of cacao and thousands of varieties of coffee. The plants here have been collected from all over the world. In addition to trees used for food and other purposes, other plants grown here are strictly for ornamental purposes. CATIE is open Monday through Friday from 7am to 3pm. Guided tours are available with advance notice for $15 per person.
If you’re a java junkie, you’ll want to take the Golden Bean Coffee Tour ★ ((tel) 2251-0853 or 8701-2637; www.goldenbean.net; $22/person), a comprehensive and informative tour of a working coffee plantation. The mill and processing facilities here have been in operation for almost a century. The tour takes around 2 hours, and operates daily at 9am and 2pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.