Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate and Sarchi Arts and Craft Tour
In Costa Rica, you are never far from a volcano, coffee, or handicrafts, and this Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate and Sarchi Arts and Craft tour took us to all three, in the comfort of a small tour.
We started the day with a hotel pickup in San Jose, driving through the suburb of Alajuela and picking up all the passengers. The knowlegeable guide talked about the various projects to improve transportation in San Jose, including starting to repurpose an old train line as a commuter line.
From here, we arrived at the national park where the Poas volcano is, and took a slight uphill walk to the crater overlook on a paved road through lush rainforest. The view from atop the active crater was beautiful, and as the wind shifted, the guide pointed out what appeared to be a small rock, but which was actually the size of a bus, which helped us to understand just how large the crater is.
We added on an optional walk up to a lake, and down on a trail which took about another 45 minutes. The lake was tranquil, and ringed by fantastically large-leafed plants which are nicknamed “sombrilla” or “umbrella plants.” We saw a couple of kinds of wildlife, birds, and a wide-eyed squirrel that looked at us as we passed by. Our guide was a naturalist, and could name every plant and animal on the way.
We then went to the Doka Coffee estate, where our guide, who also seemed to be a coffee expert, explained the process of coffee making, from seed to perfectly selected, dried and toasted bean. We tasted the pulp around the raw coffee beans, and then saw how they are processed. When we where there, large, flat concrete areas were full of green coffee beans drying in the sun, and workers were constantly rotating them to dry them faster.
We went on to the roasting room to see how they decide when the coffee is toasted to perfection, depending on the roast desired. Both at lunch and at the souvenir store we were able to try brewed coffee of the various roasts they have there, to decide which would make the best gift for those back home. We ate lunch at the Doka Estate, a plentiful buffet, with local food, including beans and rice, and chicken or fish, as well as stewed plaintains.
The last stop was the Sarchi village, a village known for an intricate painting style, which is all done by hand. We had a visit to the town square, including peering into the traditional church, a white, “wedding cake” church with vaulted hardwood ceilings and carvings by local artisans.
Opposite the church, we spent some time at the town’s claim to fame, the world’s largest carreta, or oxcart, which is very festively painted in the town’s signature style. The oxcart is an important part of Costa Rican history, and in the village of Sarchi, people have been hand painting them for nearly a century. We visited one of the workshops, workers were cutting and sanding wood, all powered by a waterwheel. A number of artisans, with the steadiest of hands were painting the delicate and colorful shading of handicrafts that would soon be for sale. On offer there were tables and chairs, painted mugs, replica ox-carts and serving trays, all painted with the same attention to detail.
After a day of seeing some of the most beautiful sights, both natural, and man-made that Costa Rica has to offer, a quiet ride into late afternoon San Jose brought us back to our respective hotels.
Poas Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate and Sarchi Arts and Craft Tour costa rica , San Jose