South-Central Costa Rica
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The south-central region is the Cinderella of Costa Rican tourism. A larger proportion of the region is protected as national park or forest reserve than in any other part of the country. Much remains inaccessible and unexplored.
The region is dominated to the east by the massive and daunting Talamanca massif. Slanting southeast and paralleling the Talamancas to the west is a range of lower-elevation mountains called the Fila Costeña. Between the two lies the 100-kilometer-long by 30-kilometer-wide Valle de El General, extending into the Valle de Coto Brus to the south.
The valley is a center of agriculture, with pineapples covering the flatlands of the Río General, and coffee smothering the slopes of Coto Brus Brus (much of the coffee plants have been replaced by cattle). The rivers that drain the valley merge to form the Río Grande de Térraba, which slices west through the Fila Costeña to reach the sea.
The region is home to the nation’s largest concentration of indigenous people. In the remote highland reaches, and occasionally in towns, you’ll see indigenous Guaymí and Boruca women dressed in traditional colorful garb, often walking barefoot, their small frames laden with babies or bulging bags.
The regional climate varies with topography. Clouds moving in from the Pacific dump most of their rain on the western slopes of the Fila Costeña, and the Valle de El General sits in a rain shadow. To the east, the Talamanca massif is rain-drenched and fog-bound for much of the year. Temperatures drop as elevation climbs, and atop the Talamancas temperatures approach freezing.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition