Monday, June 9, 2014

Ruins of Ujarras in Orosi Valley

One of our new favorite places in Costa Rica is the Orosi Valley, just past Cartago. This part of the country is beautiful and now that we have been twice, we suggest making a day trip to Cartago to visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles, then just a few blocks over to Las Ruins, then about 17 km up to the Volcan Irazu (bring a jacket) then end the day with a quick 5 mile jaunt over to Ujarras to the Ruins of Orosi. 
There are signs posted throughout Cartago, so it is a good starting point and we used WAZE and GOOGLE MAPS to pinpoint our destinations, with no mistakes. 
The church ruins of Ujarras, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción, were built in 1580, but abandoned in 1833 and are nestled inside a beautiful, free park loaded with parrots and aromas of honeysuckle and magnolia. The park has picnic tables, a large playground, several fruit trees and stunning ruins of the oldest church in Costa Rica. 
There are also sounds of a small river flowing through the park and even though it was roped off, Max and Sara stumbled upon some local kids swimming, so they stripped down to their skivvies and hopped in for a swim. Thank goodness we are parenting pros and always carry an extra set of clothes:)
The guards collect mangos from the many fruit trees within the park and sell them at the entrance. Each bag was for sale for 1 mil ($2 US) making a perfect addition to our Beef Jerky and Pringles picnic. There are also water fountains next to the BBQ pits at each picnic table. And, if it couldn't get any better, there are bathroom buildings kept clean beyond the bamboo.
The church ruins were incredible with 4 stone walls surrounding a single cross. Several green parrots flocked around the towering, lush trees and they screeched louder as we walked inside the old church walls, as if they were guarding the structure. 
When the kids saw the old stone walls across the park, they ran as fast as they could to the other side.
Max and Sara climbed the walls and conquered the castle for only a few moments before the park security and maintenance men rushed over and beseeched us to bring them down to solid ground.
Watch and listen to our video of the jungle sounds. Matt and I kept saying we wish we had a babysitter and a hammock to siesta because the sounds of the birds and rushing river waterfall and the smells of the flowering trees were intoxicating. 
Our goal was to also go fishing on Lake Cachí, but we needed to head home due to the rainy season clouds hovering, warning us of upcoming rains. Our kids had so much fun that day, they are already asking to go back again. Our baby Sofi was also mesmerised by the sounds of the park. 
There were no phones ringing, or planes flying overhead or cars honking. This park was truly isolated and we plan to leave earlier next time to visit the nearby Lake Cachi and Lankester Gardens, but we surely will always come back here for our picnic. The grounds were impeccable and the kids were even running around with bare-feet. There were signs posted with no dogs allowed and as we left, there was a van of students arriving in a large group. We highly recommend a visit to see a real relic of Costa Rica. Pura Vida!

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