The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Unlike the many crowded beach developments on the coast and in the metro areas, the mountain communities and farm villages of Occidente (Alajuela West) have preserved a way of life handed down from the first European settlers blended with local customs and traditions creating a unique rural Costa Rica culture.

Tourists have discovered these small towns and cities just west of the San Jose airport (Occidente) realizing they providing a great alternative when they are looking for a Costa Rica airport hotel. Rather than staying right in the busy noisy city around the airport, many visitors have opted for the tranquil rural towns and villages that are less than an hour from the airport and provide top quality, less expensive accommodation in authentic Costa Rican flavor.

Occidente’s main cities are Grecia, Naranjo, Palamares, San Ramon and Atenas. These small towns are only minutes from the airport and are famous for their hospitality, authentic culture and all are within an hour’s drive of the airport.

The largest of these small mountain cities is San Ramon known for generations as the “City of the Poets”; San Ramon features a mild climate and rich fertile soil famous for its coffee and sugar cane, fruit, vegetable and dairy farms. Its population in the city itself is only 10,000 and around 50,000 when you count all the small villages in the district.

Interestingly, San Ramon is home to a high altitude cloud forest, one of the closest to San Jose, only about 45 minutes west of the airport.
When one picture a tropical forests, one thinks of a ground covered dense jungle and a thick canopy holding in the still, hot, brutally humid air with the sounds of swarms of insects buzzing loudly and while this is true of lowland rain forests, cloud forests are quite a different and unique experience.

Cloud forests are a type of rainforest, but are high altitude mountain forests. Cloud forests are generally found between 2,000 and 3,000+ meters and have very different environmental conditions creating an amazingly wonderful habitat.

Named cloud forests because they are almost always shrouded in mist and fog, the high moisture level and cool temperatures promote a plant habitat rich in mosses and ferns; an environment that has its own spectacular collection of flora and fauna.

The stunningly beautiful tropical cloud forest of San Ramon is called the Los Angeles Cloud Forest and is an 800 acre private biological reserve belonging to the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve.

The nature reserve here is a favorite for bird watches from around the world. The misty cloud forests of San Ramon is home to more than 258 local species, including prevalent birds such as the Orange-bellied Trogon (Trogon aurantiiventris), Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), and dozens of others.

All the small cities in Occidente, mentioned above have seen a significant rise in rural tourism. Many tourists are starting and ending their vacations in this area as it is close enough to the airport and yet provides wonderful rural Costa Rican experiences. From the Occidente regions you have a large selection of tours and activities available such as:

• Arenal Volcano and hot springs tour
• Poas Volcano and Sarchi tour
• Guided cloud forest nature walks
• Bird Watching
• Guided jungle night walk
• Quetzal guided tours
• Cultural historical tours
• Coffee plantation tours

Occidente has also become a haven for retirees and expats that want to live close to the beach, airport and San Jose and also enjoy the relaxed, tranquil, rural lifestyle of authentic Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica

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