Poás Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and Sarchí tour in Costa Rica
We booked our Poás Volcano, Doka Coffee Estate, and Sarchí tour through anywherecostarica.com last minute. We were in San José for a wedding, but didn’t have much to do during extra days of vacation. Poás had been on my bucket list for a while, and I knew it was very close to San José. Instead of booking online, I called, as the tour would be the next day. A friendly representative helped me and gave me the information needed as well as taking payment.
Our tour started at 7:30 am picking us up from a hotel in San Jose. The bus held about 15 people and was very comfortable. A large group of students filled the bus who were enjoying the tour after their three weeks stay in Costa Rica to learn Spanish.
The tour bus hit the Pan-American Highway in route to Alajuela and Poás. Our guide told us where we would be going, what we would see, and gave us historical information about Poás during the 40-minute drive. On the way, we saw small farms and great views. Once at Poás, our entry fee was paid, and we parked. Our guide showed us to the bathrooms and then we took a short trail up to Poás. The trail to view Poás is paved and a very short walk (5 minutes). We got a fantastic view of Poás, which is very rare, as most of the time there are clouds that cover the crater. In fact, when we walked up to the crater the view was clear and 10 minutes later you couldn’t see anything due to cloud cover. You can see the transition in the photos below.
After taking pictures and enjoying the view of the impressive crater we made our way to a short trail through the rainforest. Again, this hike is short but very peaceful and enjoyable. We saw the “poor man’s umbrella” plants and had to take a picture.
Typically, you would walk to Botos Lagoon on this tour. However, it was closed for construction. After the trail, we had plenty of time to visit the small museum at the park along with the gift shop and the restaurant.
Next, we hopped back on the bus and ascended the Poás Volcano and stopped to take a picture of the view. Our next stop was the Doka Coffee Estate.
Doka Coffee Estate has been growing, harvesting and roasting coffee for three generations. The fertile soil, ideal altitude and climate made the farm famous for its excellent coffee. It was declared an Architectural Heritage for Humanity site in 2003.
The tour at the estate began with going into the field to learn about the coffee plant and how coffee is harvested. We observed the development process of the plant up to the point of recollection of the ripe grain.
Then we went to the processing plant to see how the beans are processed. Doka has the oldest humid coffee processing plant that works by hydraulic power. At the time we went the plant was not processing coffee, as there are only certain seasons to pick coffee.
Next, we saw where the coffee is dried in the Guardiola or on the patios under the sun. It is then stored in the warehouse. The grain at this point is ready to be peeled and then exported or roasted in the country.
Finally, the coffee goes to the roasting plant, Café Tres Generaciones, here we observed the different types of roasts offered.
There were some on our tour who opted not to do the coffee tour as they had already booked a coffee tour the next day. There are lovely paved trails where you a can see a collection of 250 bonsai, some of the oldest being more than 30 years. The garden is surrounded by greenery, water fountains, and orchids. Additionally, there is a butterfly farm that is home to 15 species that undergo the complete metamorphosis in the area.
At Doka, we had an excellent lunch which was very typical. It included salad, rice, beans, plantains along with a few verities of meat and vegetables. Fresh coffee, water, and tea were available. We had plenty of time to enjoy lunch and wander around the trails before heading back on the bus.
Our third stop was to Grecia, which is home to one of the only churches in Central America made entirely of steel.
We stopped at the town’s central market and walked through. Then met at the church. We had time to take pictures of the church and go inside to see the amazing stain glass windows.
Our last stop of the day was the town of Sarchí, filled with 200 small craft stores and family-operated woodworking factories. We first stopped to see the world’s largest Ox Cart. It’s a huge, brightly painted carreta that sits in the Parque Central in front of the church in Sarchí Norte. The cart was built in 2006 to get the town into The Guinness Book of World Records, which was a success.
We stopped at a souvenir shop in Sarchí as well. In the back of the souvenir shop, we were able to see an art school and artisans painting. Woodworking was taking place at the shop as well. This store was large and had trinkets for much less than you would find in the parks.
Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend a day in Costa Rica! We loved our tour guide and felt that the tour was well worth the price. A few days after our tour on June 19th, small phreatic eruptions were registered at the Poás Volcano in its super acid lake, located in the largest of Poás’ three craters. Since April there has been an increase in emission of steam, gasses, and magmatic heat, mainly in the lake.
Tips for the Tour
- Make sure to bring and umbrella along with a rain jacket. It rains quite often in Poás, so you don’t want to ruin your trip by getting soaked.
- Wear proper shoes since you will be walking through trails.
- If you have health problems, like severe heart conditions or very high blood pressure take precautions. The trail is about a 5-minute paved walk uphill. However, you can get winded because the air is very thin near Poás.
- Don’t be surprised if you don’t get to see the crater. There is about a 50% chance or less that you will see it depending on the time of the year. However, the rest of the tour is great, so enjoy what you do see.
- Traffic can be unpredictable going to and coming back from the tour. Although the tour ends at 5 pm, you could arrive at your hotel much later.
- Do not buy souvenirs at the park gift shop. They are marked up about double of what you will find in Sarchi. However, if you are looking for an Ocarina they had a good selection, which is not available in Sarchi. But, you can also find these in the market in San Jose.
- Listen carefully to your guide as they know the best times to see the volcano. If we had lollygagged around, we would have missed it.
About Poás Volcano National Park
Poás is an active stratovolcano, considered by most to be one of the most breathtaking sites in the entire country. The Poás Volcano sits high above 14,000 acres (5,666 ha) of various habitats and life zones which make up Poás Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcan Poás). Rising to 8,885 ft. (2,708 m), Poás remains one of Costa Rica’s largest and most active volcanoes, which is why it attracts thousands of visitors per year.
Poás is one of the five active volcanoes (Arenal, Irazu, Rincon de la Vieja and Turrialba) out of the 112 in Costa Rica.
At almost a mile in diameter (1.6 km), the craters rain-fed sulfuric pool still bubbles. It also emits smoke into the air at times. The crater descends nearly 1,000 ft. (300 m) and is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world. Standing on the rim of Poás in the park, visitors can often smell the sulfur in the air. At times the sulfur has proven to be acidic enough for the park to close. The most recent eruptions were in 2012, 2013, 2014 and a small phreatic explosion in 2016.