Aerial View of La Garita, Alajuela

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Near by Attractions
Guayabo Monument


Monumento Nacional Guayabo on the southern flank of Volcán Turrialba, 19 km north of Turrialba, is the nation’s only archaeological site of any significance.
Don’t expect anything of the scale or scope of the Mayan and Aztec ruins of Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, or Belize.
The society that lived here between 1000 b.c. and a.d. 1400, when the town was mysteriously abandoned, was far less culturally advanced than its northern neighbors.



No record exists of the Spanish having known of Guayabo. In fact, the site lay uncharted until rediscovered in the late 19th century. Systematic excavations —still under way— were begun in 1968.
monolito guayabo   The 218-hectare monument encompasses a significant area of tropical wet forest on valley slopes surrounding the archaeological site. Trails lead to a lookout point, where you can surmise the layout of the pre-Columbian village, built between two rivers. To the south, a wide cobbled pavement—most of it still hidden in the jungle—leads past ancient stone entrance gates and up a slight gradient to the village center, which at its peak housed an estimated 1,000 people.  

The cobbled pavement (calzada), which is lined with impatiens, is in perfect alignment with the cone of Volcán Turrialba. It is being relaid in its original form.
Conical bamboo living structures were built on large circular stone mounds (montúculos), with paved pathways between them leading down to aqueducts —still working after 2,000 years— and a large water tank with an overflow so that the water was constantly replenished. About four hectares have been excavated and are open to the public via the Mound Viewing Trail. Note the monolithic rock carved with petroglyphs of an alligator and a jaguar.

The ranger booth sells maps and a self-guided pamphlet. Opposite the booth are the park administration office (tel./fax 506 - 2556 9507) a picnic and camping area with shelters, an exhibition and projection hall, a miniature model of the site, plus a hut with pre-Columbian finds. Many of the artifacts unearthed here are on display at the National Museum in San José.

Getting There
Buses depart Turrialba for Guayabo village from Avenida 4, Calle 2 (from 100 meters south of the main bus terminal), Mon.–Sat. at 11 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. Return buses depart Guayabo Mon.–Sat. at 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. and return at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sunday). You’ll need to overnight if you take the 5:15 p.m. bus from Turrialba. A taxi from Turrialba will cost about $30 round-trip.
The paved road from Turrialba deteriorates to a rough dirt and rock path about four km below Guayabo. You can approach Guayabo from the northwest, via Santa Cruz (see below); it’s about 10 km by rough dirt road and is signed.

Public phone (506)2559-0099
8 a.m.–3:30 p.m.
$6 admission

Villa Rita Country Cottages
La Garita, Alajuela, Costa Rica - Tel: (506) 2487-7566 -