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Costa Rica’s top 7 largest national parks

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Have you ever wondered why Costa Rica is the greenest country on earth, and why its people are so happy ?

The answer to the first part of the question lies in the fact that the country has 33 national parks and reserves that preserve its ecosystem. The answer to the second part of the question can be explained by the fact that people are not afraid to live in simplicity in order to protect nature.

Of all these national parks and reserve dedicated to protect the fauna and flora of the country, 7 of the largest have been selected to prove how much the ecosystem of the country is sacred.

7. Palo Verde National Park

It is located in the north of the province, in one of the driest areas of Costa Rica. It is both, a spectacular wetland and one of the world's remaining dry tropical forests; it is probably the country’s most ambiguous park.

  • Location : Guanacaste
  • Area : 184 km2
  • Year of creation : 1978
  • Flora : Brush & mixed forests
  • Fauna : egrets, herons, howler monkeys, deer, squirrels, 5 meters crocodiles and a multitude of others
  • Attraction(s) : N
  • Possible activities : Hiking and boat excursion
  • Opening hours : 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Best time to visit : December to May
  • Special Feature : One of the best places in the country to observe native wildlife

► Plan a trip including Palo Verde National Park

6. Tortuguero National Park

The location of this park makes it accessible only by boat and plane, because it is crossed by natural canals. However, it is the third most visited national park in the country. Several people call it the little Amazon of Costa Rica.

  • Location : Limon
  • Area : 312 km2
  • Year of creation : 1970
  • Flora : More than 400 species of trees & 2,200 species of plants
  • Fauna : 300 species of birds (toucans, blue heron, etc.), 60 species of mammals (jaguars, three-toed sloths, etc.), 30 species of freshwater fish and several amphibians and reptiles (green turtle, venomous frogs, basilica lizards, etc.)
  • Attraction(s) : Green turtles
  • Possible activities : N
  • Opening hours : 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Best time to visit : March to October
  • Special feature : The largest nesting area for green turtles in the western Caribbean

► Plan a trip including Tortuguero National Park

5. Santa Rosa National Park

This park is about 42 km from Liberia. It is best known for its protection of a unique dry forest area in Central America. At the same time, it is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and is home to many different ecosystems.

  • Location : Guanacaste
  • Area : 387 km2
  • Year of creation : 1972
  • Flora : Oak forests, evergreen and deciduous forests, littoral forests, guanacaste (a tree between 25 and 50 meters high), Gumbo Limbo (tree with a smooth and shiny trunk)
  • Fauna : 10,000 species of insects, about 250 species of birds, several mammals (white-tailed deer, jaguars, howler monkeys, etc.), 100 species of reptiles
  • Attraction(s) : Casona de Santa Rosa
  • Possible activities : walking, cycling or camping
  • Opening hours : 8:00 am to 3:30 pm
  • Best time to visit : December to April
  • Special feature : It contains more than 10 distinct habitats

► Plan a trip including Santa Rosa National Park

4. Corcovado National Park

Located in the southern part of the province, in the Osa Peninsula, its surface covers a third of this peninsula. It is considered the jewel of Costa Rica's parks system. There are only two seasons in this park: the dry season and the rain season.

  • Location : Puntarenas
  • Area : 450 km2
  • Year of creation : 1972
  • Flora : 500 species of trees and certain species of plants, (trees that measure between 40 and 50 meters high and others that can reach 70 meters high)
  • Fauna : 6000 species of insects; 367 bird species, including the Scarlet Macaw; 220 species of butterflies; 140 species of mammals (giant anteater, sloth, capuchin, jaguar, etc.); 116 species of amphibians and 40 species of fish
  • Attraction(s) : The turtles via the path named Leona
  • Possible activities : Hiking
  • Opening hours : 7:00 am to 4:00 pm (*Sirena section closed in October)
  • Best time to visit : Mid-December to mid-April
  • Special Feature : houses 2.5% of the world's biodiversity and is home to 33% of the tree species found in Costa Rica

► Plan a trip including Corcovado National Park

3. Braulio Carrillo National Park

The Braulio Carrillo National Park is located in the central valley of the country, 20 km northeast of the city of San Jose. It was created for a noble cause: the protection of the fauna and flora of the region against the construction of a highway. It is in honor of the 3rd President (Don Braulio Carrillo Colina) that the park bears this name.

  • Location : Heredia
  • Area : 475.8 km2
  • Year of creation : 1978
  • Flora : Ferns, several species of orchids, bromeliads and several other species of trees & plants
  • Fauna : 500 species of birds (toucans, hummingbirds, quetzales, etc.), 150 species of mammals (howler monkeys, anteaters, jaguars, etc.), reptiles (snakes)
  • Attraction(s) : The Barva volcano which is 2906 meters high
  • Possible activities : Hiking
  • Opening hours : 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Best time to visit : N
  • Special feature : It houses several distinct living areas

► Plan a trip including Braulio Carrillo National Park

2. Chirripo National Park

This park is located near a small town called San Gerardo de Rivas, in the south of the province, and protects several important ecosystems. It is one of the attractions that give a small rustic side to the very urban province that San Jose is

  • Location : San Jose
  • Area : 500 km2
  • Year of creation : 1975
  • Flora : Oaks that reach 30 meters high, ferns, bamboos, epithets, thorny plants, evergreen trees and laurels
  • Fauna : More than 400 species of birds (spike, quetzal, fierce harpy, etc.), mammals (spider monkey, jaguar, cougar, etc.), 260 reptiles and amphibians
  • Attraction(s) : Mount Cerro Chirripo Grande, which is 3,820 meters high (the highest peak in Central America)
  • Possible activities : Hiking
  • Opening hours : Every day from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Best time to visit : December to May
  • Special feature : It holds one of the largest ecological zones of Costa Rica

1. Tapanti-Macizo National Park of the Muerte

Although this park is located in one of the smaller provinces of Costa Rica (Cartago), it ranks first in this list due to its large size. It is only 10 km from the provincial capital. It is one of the places in Costa Rica that gets the most rain because of its altitude.

  • Location : Cartago
  • Area : 583 km2
  • Year of creation : 1982
  • Flora : oaks, willows, magnolias, quebrachos, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, sombrilla de pobre (the poor’s umbrella), etc.
  • Fauna : 45 species of mammals (tapir, agouti, leopard, etc.), 260 species of birds (quetzal, hawk, turkey, pigeon, tanager, etc.), 28 amphibian spaces (salamander, frog, etc.), 30 species of reptiles
  • Attraction (s) : N
  • Possible activities : Hiking, swimming in Rio Grande River
  • Opening hours : Every day from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm
  • Best time to visit : N
  • Special feature : It is divided into two distinct sections

► Plan a trip including Tapanti-Macizo National Park of the Muerte


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