27 Nov 2016
Costa Rica is the proud home of twenty-seven national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas/mangroves, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, plus 12 other conservation regions protect the distinctive and diverse natural habitats. Nearly 5% of global flora and fauna, representing 12 life zones, live in an area about the size of West Virginia. The six national parks below capture some of Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity and all are within a few hours’ drive of Los Sueños Resort and Marina.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in northern Puntarenas province sits on the Continental Divide, where mist produced by the high humidity at elevations of up to 5,200 feet collected on the branches of the tallest trees, supports a stunning range of biodiversity. Extending across eight distinct biological zones, the reserve is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. There are several ways to explore the reserve, on foot or exploring the canopy via skywalk or zipline. Well-maintained trails vary in difficulty from easy to moderate, and with thick moss covering nearly all surfaces, sturdy hiking boots are necessary.
Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula, preserves the largest primary tropical rainforest on the American Pacific coast. Its remote location has helped preserve it as habitat for many endangered plant and animal species, even as the park’s popularity as an ecotourism destination grows. Scarlet macaws, resplendent quetzals, red-eyed tree frogs and tapirs are among the hundreds of species that inhabit the park’s 13 ecosystems. A certified professional guide must accompany all visitors.
Arenal Volcano within Arenal Volcano National Park is one of the most recognized in Costa Rica. The conservation area (290 square miles) encompasses eight of the 12 life zones in Costa Rica. Hiking, boating, cycling, bird watching and natural hot springs add to the volcano’s steady geothermal display. Birdwatchers especially should pay a visit; most of Costa Rica’s 850 bird species can be found here.
Piedras Blancas National Park, formerly part of Corcovado, helps protect the last remaining lowland tropical rainforest on the Golfo Dulce. In addition, Piedras Blancas is one of the few jaguar habitats in Costa Rica. Bordering Golfito National Wildlife Refuge, Piedras Blancas and Corcovado create and protect an important ecologically diverse biological corridor in the Golfo Dulce. Many rate Piedras Blancas as a premier bird watching park because many birds from throughout the Americas gather.
Los Quetzales National Park encompasses 3 rainforests and 14 ecosystems along the Cordillera de Talamanca. Reaching altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet, the mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the park to rival its colorful namesakes. Here, brightly colored, long-tailed green and red quetzals are plentiful, belying their nearly mythological rarity. Other avian residents include the colibri, with its cone-shaped nests and hummingbirds. Squirrel monkeys, sloths, jaguars and pumas are also plentiful within the park.
Santa Rosa National Park, founded in 1972, is part of the Guanacaste Conservation area that protects a great deal of the last tropical dry forest in the world. Ten distinctive habitats, deciduous forests, littoral woodlands, evergreen forests, mangroves, marshlands and savannahs, can be found within park boundaries. Lush in the green season, the park becomes a topical dry forest in the dry season with well-marked trails. Playa Naranjo and Playa Nancite are two of several stunning beaches. Playa Nancite is an olive ridley turtle nesting site, while Witches Rock at Playa Naranjo offers some of the best surfing in the world.
Manuel Antonio National Park, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast, encompasses rugged rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. It’s renowned for its vast diversity of tropical plants and wildlife, from three-toed sloths and endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys to hundreds of bird species. The park’s roughly 680 hectares are crossed with hiking trails, which meander from the coast up into the mountains.
For such a small country, Costa Rica leads the world in environmental conservation, in land, species and government programs. HRG’s dedicated concierge team can help you arrange a visit to any of the parks on our list or help you choose from the many choices available to you. They’ll take care of all the details, from door-to-door.