Refreshed after a snack of peach jam and cheese sandwiches, you are ready for the beautiful trip through the northern part of the western highlands, via Ciudad Quesada and Volcan Poas, back to Alajuela. Ciudad Quesada lies north of Zarceros, at the relatively low altitude of 650 meters above sea level. The city is Costa Rica’s undisputed cheese capital. Its name, however, does not come from the Spanish word queso (cheese), but from the poet Napoleon Quesada, in whose honor the city was named. The town, with its 30,000 inhabitants, is better known in Costa Rica under its former name, San Carlos.
The soil and topography of this region, which descends to the lowlands, is superbly well suited for grazing and breeding cattle. The lush green meadows get an average annual rainfall of almost 5,000 mm, and grass grows throughout the year. The economic center of this extremely fertile region, and the initial market for its abundant products, is Ciudad Quesada. The popular Parque Central with its music pavilion, a large church and a swimming pool (balneario) are located in the northwest part of town. There are also numerous movie theaters, banks and several hotels here.