Grecia, the town where Mangífera hostel is located, is a small but vibrant town on the foothill of Volcán Poás. Grecia offers literally every facility you need to make you feel at home. From shops to markets to DIY stores, from a cinema, a swimming pool and a colourful park to a big variety of restaurants and cafes.
Grecia has more to offer though. If you want to get to know life in Grecia in an authentic way, we highly recommend you to take a hike through the surroundings of this town. In this post you’ll find directions and pictures of our favourite hikes in the area. All hikes start from the front door of Mangífera hostel! We hope you’ll enjoy.
In this read we give directions for several hikes:
Hikes north-east of Grecia: La Cooperativa
North-east of Grecia, there's a big Sugarcane cooperation (in Spanish: cooperativa) named ‘Coopevictoria. Locals normally refer to this enterprise as ‘La Cooperativa’. La Cooperativa was founded in 1943 with support from the Costa Rican government and the national bank (Banco Nacional de Costa Rica). Due to the great depression in the 1930s and World War II, the small and medium sized agricultures in Costa Rica were badly effected since the international trade was restricted. La Cooperativa was founded near Grecia to overcome the socio-economic problems that these events caused in this area. By establishing La Cooperativa, individual farmers got the chance to benefit from economies of scale by cooperating together with other farmers. La Cooperativa exists till this day and has had a big influence on how the landscape around Grecia and other towns in the area formed.
Well, all this to explain why, just outside of Grecia town, you’ll encounter rural areas with farmlands, mainly used to farm Sugarcane (or ‘Caña de Azúcar’ in Spanish)!
The pictures down below give you an overview of two routes you can take through this area and give you an impression of the views and landscapes you’ll encounter.
Hike north-east of Grecia 1:
Hike north-east of Grecia 2:
Hike south of Grecia: Neighbourhoods, cemetery and lechería
This hike takes you around the smaller roads south of Grecia. It lets you discover where and how people around Grecia live. The variety in the types of housing on this route will definitely surprise you. The first part of this hike takes you to some elevated hills around the local cemetery and a big dairy farm, so you’ll certainly be treated to some great views! Depending on the time of the year, you’ll also be able to discover some curious trees.
The pictures below show you several examples of interesting things that you can encounter during this hike (seed of the Guanacaste tree, and the seed of the Anacardo tree that produces cashew fruit and cashew seeds, from which cashew nuts are made...!). The trees, their fruits and seeds, in their turn, attract a lot of insects, bird and squirrels. Enjoy this hike! Keep in mind that the last part around Poró (check the map down below) includes a very steep climb!
This is what a cashew seed looks like
This is the seed of a 'Guanacaste tree'
Hike south of Grecia: Interesting back road
This is a nice and short hike that will take you about 1,5h to complete. Part of this hike takes you to a back road with nice views of the environment. Keep in mind that the second part around Poró is a very steep climb! There are always polite (taxi) drivers around that offer you a ride up the hill though.
Side note: We took a wrong road and encountered a big fence in the way. Around the number 1 on the map down below, it shows where we mistook :), you can leave that part out of the route.
This building is especially constructed to load trucks with coffee beans. Because of the inclination, it's easier to load the beans into the trucks.
Short hike west of Grecia: Stretch your legs!
This short hike is a nice ‘stretch for the legs’ if you want to go out for only an a short while. First, you’ll pass by an area where a lot of car dealers/sellers and car mechanics are located. Then, you’ll decent a road and climb a steep hill towards a neighbourhood.
This tree is called a 'Cortez'. During the dry season this tree will drop it's leaves and change them for beautiful yellow, orange or pink flowers.
Hike north-east of Grecia: Los Angeles and around San Juan de Grecia
This pleasant hike will take you to Los Angeles and San Juan de Grecia, both small villages located in the outskirts of the centre of Grecia. Since Los Angeles is located on a hill, the views from this town over the surroundings are very nice. San Juan is located a lot lower than Los Angeles, so prepare for some exercise! This hike is interesting because of the different types of neighbourhoods that you’ll get to see. It’s very curious to witness the different styles of living the people make in different parts around town. Near the river in San Juan, we saw 3 'Jezus Christ lizards' !
At a certain point, this hike also takes you to the excess of some small caves. During this hike, we were caught by a massive storm with heavy rain, so we couldn’t go into the cave at that moment. We plan to add more information and directions to this cave once we managed to get in! We also took a taxi back to Grecia (dark blue line on the map), since we were completely wet and since it didn’t seem to stop raining soon. We hiked for about 7 kilometres (light blue line on the map).
Consider that this hike is about 11/12 kilometres in total, with some tough ups and downs along the road, but it’s definitely worth it!
This plant is called 'Reina de la Noche': Queen of the Night. It can cause hallucinations. Apparently it's quite toxic and it's easy to take an overdose.
Hiking advise: What to take?
Especially during the rainy season, you’ll have to consider the possibility to get wet during your hike! Be aware that when it rains in Costa Rica it often pours down like crazy (you can be completely wet within 10 seconds) and that it often comes with thunder and lightning, so be prepared! We always go out with with a rain jacket and a waterproof bag to protect our electronic devices (mobile phones, camera…), our wallets and other valuables against the rain. To reduce the chance of being caught by the rain, we advise you to go out early (the sun already rises around 5:15 am!). Consider that most of the time it’s very warm and humid, so taking a sweater is not always necessary if you stay close to Grecia (if you go higher up into the hills / mountains, it definitely is!).
Of course, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself against the sun (whether it is with sun screen or with protective clothes. Depending on the time of the year, you’ll also find it helpful to protect yourself from mosquitos or other small insects that are eager to bite you Some clothing brands offer ‘insect bite proof’ fabrics. It’s a great way to protect yourself from getting bitten in a more sustainable and healthier way than to always spray insects repellent on your skin.
Keep in mind that the Grecia is located in a hilly environment and during the hikes, you’ll often have to climb and decent steep streets. To be comfortable, good hiking shoes and socks are great. Stable sports shoes that support your feet well, will work as well. The paths you’ll walk on around Grecia are often paved.
We personally also really like to take our binoculars. You’ll be surprised by the amount of birds you’ll encounter during these hikes and it’s a pleasure to be able to look at them up close through binoculars… Apart from all this equipment it’s advisable to take water and a nice snack for the road! You’ll also walk by several small supermarkets (or ‘pulpería in Spanish) and bakeries, so you can also choose to get a snack on the way.