When foreigners envision Costa Rica they usually imagine paradisiacal beaches and cities of tropical splendor. While it’s true that the country has all that, it is also home to a variety of rare and exotic landscapes. A perfect example is found in Cartago Province.
The Prussian Forest is perhaps one of the greatest attractions in the area. Located in Irazú Volcano National Park, it complements the temperate panorama of the volcano with its wooded and “enchanted” environment.
Coming to Costa Rica without visiting sector Prusia, Irazu Volcano, would be missing a true wonder of nature.
How to get to Bosque Prusia, Costa Rica
There are several access routes to Parque Nacional Volcán Irazú, depending on where you start. If you are in San José, take the Florencio del Castillo Highway until you reach Tierra Blanca. From there, take the road to Irazú Volcano. If you are traveling from Cartago, drive northeast on Route 219 towards Tierra Blanca.
Thanks to Costa Rica’s blossoming tourism industry, it is possible to get there by bus or car. At Adobe Rent a Car, we have a large fleet of impeccable vehicles to choose from. You’ll find the perfect make and model to suit your trip’s itinerary.
We have the newest cars on the market, all of our vehicles are less than two-years old, and we promise no hidden fees – ever! You can pick up your vehicle in San José or at any of our 15 full-service Adobe offices throughout Costa Rica.
Six must-do activities when visiting Prusia Park
This stretch of Cartago forest is not just trees and rain. In Prusia, animal and plant species coexist that represent a unique part of Costa Rica’s biodiversity. There are also several natural and man-made tourist attractions.
Walk the trails – a perfect one-day tour in Costa Rica
There are several marked trails (senders) open to visitors. Some are more difficult than others, and being in good physical condition is recommended to navigate the steep terrain. If possible, don’t miss hiking them all. There are several stunning scenic overlooks (miradors) that shouldn’t be missed.
What to wear for your trip? Make sure you’ve got comfortable hiking shoes and are willing to tackle the occasional rugged area. A rain jacket and a change of warm clothing are also recommended in case you encounter chilly weather conditions.
Two of the most popular trails in the Prussian Forest are El Roble and El Ahorcado
The El Roble route is easy to navigate. It is not too steep and is mostly free of logs, stones, or other obstacles. El Roble is highly recommended for visitors who prefer to enjoy the scenery over challenging their physical prowess. It includes a quiet walk through La Laguna, where a natural freshwater spring enchants visitors with its shimmering beauty when the day is sunny.
The El Ahorcado trail, on the other hand, is more difficult making it the best choice for adventurous souls. The trail ends at Cabeza de Vaca overlook, where hikers can see as far as the Barva Volcano (part of the Irazú Volcanic Complex) and the Caribbean Coast.
Don’t miss taking a picture of the Haunted Tree
Another highlight of the Prussian Forest is its famous landmark, the Arbol Embrujado. It is found along the Los Abuelos Trail. It is said that the haunting aspects of the dead tree trunk are the work of the enchanted “mystical beings” that live in the park.
Hiking Retes Hill
If you are an experienced hiker or you’re interested in camping in the Forest of Prusia, Cerro Retes will be a rewarding physical challenge. To get there, you must hike for approximately five kilometers through the forest until you reach the borders of the National Park.
Retes Hill is the highest point of Prusia Forest and Cartago (apart from the volcano’s craters). The trail reaches approximately 2,180 meters while the peak itself is 3,000 meters above sea level.
Retes was originally one of the volcano’s many craters, before the climate dried considerably. Today it is considered an irregular plain, harboring otherworldly vegetation and dry gnarled trees. Due to its height, Retes offers a panoramic vista of San José, Valle del Guarco, Heredia, Barva, Cacho Negro, and Los Volcanes de Poás. The Retes trail can only be accessed by foot.
A visit to Derrumbe Lagoon
Derrumbe Lagoon earned its name from its history as a dormant volcanic crater brimming with rare biological and inorganic materials. When Irazú volcano erupted in the mid-1960s, the explosion scattered the crater’s unusual contents. The remaining lagoon is also known as the Laguna del Reventado, birthplace of the mighty Reventazón river.
Today, the lagoon looks more like a swamp than a fresh water reservoir. Yet the trek to get there is rewarding because of its idyllic scenery and numerous overlooks.
Visiting the Yellow Mountain of Cartago
If you’re hoping to capture a memorable frame-worthy photo for your living room or plenty of likes on social media, you must stop at Yellow Mountain. To get there, take the route to Sanatorio Durán towards Irazú volcano
Yellow Mountain is one of the most frequented tourist spots in January and February because it coincides with the blooming of Costa Rica’s coveted wild Nabo plants. During this period the entire Cartago prairie and mountainside are blanketed in a sea of bright yellow flowers, worthy of a postcard.
Tour the Durán Sanatorium
Once you’ve had your fill of photo ops, it’s time to visit the Duran Sanatorium. This old and dilapidated historical monument once functioned as a hospital for people suffering from tuberculosis and other rare conditions that needed to be quarantined. Now, the mysterious landmark attracts fans interested in the paranormal.
It is said that the Durán Sanatorium is “enchanted” because of rumors that visitors hear voices and see apparitions of patients and nurses walking the corridors. Some visitors report seeing the haunting shadows of people walking, or the shapes of stretchers and wheelchairs in the surrounding gardens.
Recommendations for visiting Prusia Forest
When is the best time to visit Sector Prusia? This region is characterized as a humid forest where the average temperature ranges between 5 ° C and 15 ° C, so it is necessary to wear suitable clothing for cold and rain. It is also recommended to wear comfortable shoes, appropriate for long, steep hikes and obstacles.
The national park permits the entry of food as long as no inorganic waste is left behind. There are several picnic areas throughout the park. Lighting fires is strictly prohibited, as well as hunting or disturbing the plant and animal species. And don’t plan on taking home any natural souvenirs!
Make sure to bring enough liquids to keep you hydrated. Although water is accessible along the trails, it can’t hurt to bring your own thermos. Keep in mind that alcohol or drugs are also strictly forbidden.
Lastly, enjoy nature with a good camera and good company. Visiting the Prussian Forest Park is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.
How to buy tickets for Sector Prusia – hours and entry fees
The national park is generally open every day, including holidays and Sundays, but check ahead of time for any COVID-19 related restrictions. Daily access hours for the general public are between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The entrance price varies depending on the season. There is also a restaurant offering meal service during peak months.