Costa Rica Highlights, El Silencio and Bajos del Toro

Once travelers touch down in San Jose, they’re often in a rush to drive to Arenal Volcano or Monteverde and the Cloud Forest. That’s unfortunate, because you’re missing one of my favorite parts of the country, the farmland on the backside of Poas Volcano, only an hour’s drive from the airport. 5,000 feet high, also considered part of the Cloud Forest, this is as green and cool as the country gets. The verdant terrain features some of the best waterfalls in the country, plummeting down to rarely seen lakes. At Peace Lodge and El Silencio, we walked by ourselves to a series of waterfalls, all more dramatic than the next. El Silencio is located in the farming community of Bajos del Toro. One afternoon, we went horseback riding up the hillside, stopped to milk cows and meet the locals, then wandered back through town to our room. The view from our deck was a stunning flank of the volcano, surrounded by the lush foliage. Adding to the allure are the multitude of hummingbirds found in this part of the country.