Aug 25 2016

Our 12-Day Road Trip to Costa Rica’s Southern Zone: San Isidro de El General

When I first mentioned a trip to San Isidro de El General to Paul, it wasn’t high on his priority list. After all, we knew we didn’t want to settle there — it’s just too far from San Jose and the airport for us. And, you have to drive over the Cerro de la Muerte (“Summit of Death”) to get there! But, we wanted to visit our friends who live there, and I, frankly, wanted to experience the Cerro de la Muerte. After all, how bad could it be?

So off we went, driving to San Jose, then Cartago, then picking up the “Summit of Death” to San Isidro de El General. Instead of being a scary trip, it was a beautiful ride over well-maintained roads. Yes, they were curvy and hilly, but we’re used to that. But I couldn’t help thinking that, in earlier days, prior to the construction of the highway, it probably took several days walking or on horseback to make this same journey.

We stopped for lunch just past the highest point of the drive (about 11,300 ft. elevation), just outside of San Gerardo de Dota. As you can see in the quick little video below, we were in the clouds and it was definitely chilly but beautiful!

When we arrived in the town of San Isidro de El General, five hours after leaving our home in the western Central Valley, we found it to be a prosperous and busy town, with good stores and clean streets. San Isidro is the capital city of the cantón (county) of Perez Zeledon, with a population of about 135,000 people in the entire county.

Bea & Gordon

Bea & Gordon

The first stop was the house of our good friends, Gordon and Bea. Gordon is our weatherguy for San Isidro de El General. They live in Villa Nueva, which is 10 minutes NW of the city, at a altitude of about 800 meters (2,625 ft.). Their rental house is brand new and so cute. We stayed with them for two nights and got to meet several of their friends. They were great hosts and we enjoyed our time with them so much. We especially enjoyed eating Bea’s delicious meals on their porch. And we laughed…a lot!


Gordon and Bea gave us our first good look at the area and Paul made a complete 180 degree turn-around in his thinking. What a beautiful part of the country! Pictures just don’t do it justice. While we still don’t see ourselves living there at this point in our lives, we definitely want to come back to San Isidro de El General at least once a year.

After leaving Gordon & Bea’s house, we traveled south to Drake Bay and San Vito, then returned to San Isidro de El General to visit watercolor artist, teacher, and author, Jan Hart. We had met Jan in person once, many years ago and have been facebook friends with her since that time. We looked forward to getting to know her better and experiencing her beautiful corner of the world.

Jan Hart at Home

Jan Hart at Home

Its funny how comfortable you can be when meeting some facebook friends. That’s what it was like with Jan, like getting together with an old friend. She has a beautiful video on her website which was shot by a drone flying over her property and the surrounding valley. You can find it at this link.

We spent the night at Jan’s, then continued southwest to Tinamastes to visit friends Bonnie & Joe, before heading to the coastal town of Uvita. Bonnie is our weathergal for Tinamastes and they live at 2,745 ft. elevation with their dog, Marley.  One of the great things we found about Tinamastes is the location. It’s only 20 minutes up the mountain from the beach at Dominical and 30 minutes west of San Isidro de El General. It is also home to the weekly Feria Organica Tinamastes (organic farmers’ market), which is located just down the street from their house. And what a view they have from their porch! Again, pictures just don’t do it justice, but here’s a pic.


Yes, we truly enjoyed our time in San Isidro de El General and surrounding areas. We can’t wait to go back!

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