Christmas trees in Costa Rica? You bet

November 17, 2011

The rivalry between natural and artificial Christmas trees plays out every year in the months leading up to Dec. 25. Luckily, if Costa Rica is home for the holidays, Christmas trees are available for every preference and budget.

Costa Rica may not seem like a climate capable of producing trees typically associated with snowy winds and bears, but Cristina Vargas de Coghi of Cipresal del Este in San Ramón de Tres Ríos, east of San José, said that’s not the case. 

“The air and mist from the mountains sits on these trees and makes it just like a refrigerator,” she said. 

Nearly 2,000 cypress trees fill the farm Vargas and her husband, Víctor Coghi, opened nearly 10 years ago. 

“There’s just no replacement for a natural tree. The air here is something different,” Vargas said. “It’s a blessing from God that we can use the earth and live in an environment like this.”

Cipresal del Este’s clients include people from faraway towns like Tamarindo on the northern Pacific coast. Vargas said she doesn’t think most people realize how much work goes into maintaining the farm.

“Every tree has to be observed and cared for individually,” she said. 

She explained that to do this, the farm employs three to four people throughout the year to maintain the trees. That number increases to six or seven in mid-November when the holiday business gets going.

Vargas also explained that selling the

trees is a process, because they usually aren’t big enough to sell until they are 3 years old. 

“Even then it might not sell,” she said. “People like full trees and won’t buy one if it has holes in it.”

Still, Vargas said she and her husband will save some trees from the axe this year in the hope they will be worth more in years to come. The largest tree at Cipresal del Este is 20 feet tall and 8 years old. 

“That one won’t go just anywhere. It will probably be bought by a bank or company. We’re really proud of this one,” Vargas said.

Prices at Cipresal del Este start at ₡30,000 ($60) for a 4- to 5-foot tree. The 20-foot tree goes for about ₡250,000 ($500).

Vargas and Coghi aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the mountain climate in parts of the Central Valley. Vivero La Begonia and Cipreses Las Rusas share the same stepped hillside as Cipresal del Este and many other tree farms. Heredia, north of San José, also has several tree farms along the highway to Guápiles, including Quinta San Luis and Vivero El Zamorano (see sidebar).

If the pine needles and challenge of stringing lights aren’t worth the trouble, several stores in and around San José sell artificial trees with and without lights included. Muñoz y Nanne supermarket and department store in the eastern suburb of San Pedro (2253-4646, www.munozynanne.com) offers artificial trees and wreaths. Prices range from ₡20,000 ($40) for small, unlit trees to ₡180,000 ($360) for larger, decorated trees. Universal department stores also have a variety of artificial trees at locations around the Central Valley and in Liberia, Guanacaste (www.universalcr.com).

O Christmas Tree

Here are just a few tree farms to choose from:

Árboles La Amistad con Hilda Chávez

Location: Concepción de Rafael de Heredia, 100 m north of La Ciénaga Road, then 50 m west

Contact: 2268-1269

Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Depends on size

Delivery: Available to some locations

Cipresal del Este

Location: San Ramón de Tres Ríos, 500 m east of Parque del Este

Contact: 2273-3128

Hours: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: Depends on size

Delivery: Available to some areas with deposit

Quinta San Luis

Location: San Luis de Santo Domingo de Heredia, just south of El Aposento Restaurant

Contact: 2268-6524

Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Depends on size

Delivery: No

Vivero El Zamorano

Location: San Isidro de Heredia, highway to Guápiles, 200 m before San Isidro intersection

Contact: 2268-8257

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: Depends on size

Delivery: Available to some areas

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