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More Parks and Reserves in Costa Rica including Arenal National Park, Barra Honda, La Amistad, Chirripo, Coco Island, Guanacaste, IrazuVolcano, Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve, Guayabo Island, Negritos Islands & Pájaros Island Biological Reserves, Palo Verde, Poas Volcano,  & Santa Rosa National Parks...
 
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Map of Costa Rica

Arenal National Park
Area: 2,920 Ha. 

The Arenal National Park is located on the Northern region of Costa Rica at the northern end of the Tilaran Mountain Rang; managed by the cantons of Tilaran, San Carlos and San Ramon. 

This area is considered an important replenishment region because its waters, which drain into the Arenal Reservoir, are used for the production of electricity and in fish farming projects in the Moracia Irrigation District.

Its flora is varied, with species such as the mountain guayabo, frijo, rosewood, chicle tree, balsa and others. The main species of fauna are the paca, Baird's tapir, white-nosed coati, sloth, jaguar, deer; birds such as parrots, parakeets, resplendent quetzals; and some snakes like the parrot snake, fer-de-lance and boa constrictor. 

Barra Honda National Park

Area: 2,295 Ha

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Location: Guanacaste Province, 22 Km northeast of the city of Nicoya. 

The Barra Honda Peak, rising some 300 meters above the surrounding countryside, is formed by limestone reefs -that is , an upheaval of ancient coral reefs produces by faults in the earth's crust. This peak is on the order of 60 million years old. 

Barra Honda contains a diverse system of independent caves, 19 of which have ben explored to date, The depths of the caves vary greatly, the most noteworthy being the Santa Ana cave, which reaches 240 meters. The most ornate are the Terciopelo, Trampa, and Sana Ana caves, with a profusion of stalagmites, stalactites, pillars, cave pearls, helictites, popcorn, mushrooms, shark's teeth, chalk flowers and needles, and other formations. 

The vegetation of the park is mainly deciduous. Some of the most common species of trees are the wild plum, gonzalo alves, tempisque, gumbo-lindo, and wild cotton. 

The fauna is fairly varied, with species such as the white-faced monkey, coyote, common long-nosed armadillo, white-tailed deer, raccoon and white-nosed coati being the most commonly spotted.

Chirripo National Park and La Amistad International Park

Area:
50,150 Terrestrial Ha.
193,029 Maritime Ha.
Location:
Talamanca Mountain Range, provinces of Limon, Cartago and San Jose (Chirripo). La Amistad Park is located in the Talamanca Mountain Range and extends to the Panama border.

Both parks span the most biologically diverse area in Costa Rica and comprise the largest unspoiled forest in the country. An astonishing number of habitats -produced by the differences in altitude, soil, climate and topography- can be found, including paramos, marshlands, oak forests, madrono forests, fern groves and mixed forests. 

One of Chirripo's most important geomorphological discoveries is that of various glacial forms which have been preserved almost intact. There are small U-shaped by the action and movement of the ice masses as much as 30,000 years ago. 

Chirripo Peak is the highest mountain in the country, soaring to a height of 3,821 meters. The paramos of this elevation contain many varieties of stunted Andean-type woodland, consisting of shrubs, grasslands and perennial herbaceous plants. One of the most common species found here is the batamba. 

 The largest trees include oak, sweet cedar, nargusta, elm, Poas magnolia, iera, cypress and manni. 

The fauna is astonishingly varied, with 263 species of amphibians and reptiles and about 400 types of birds observed to date. The largest concentration of tapirs in the country can be found here, plus the puma, jaguar, ocelot, jaguaroundi, white-lipped peccary and cacomistle. 

 The most noteworthy birds include the resplendent quetzal, crested eagle, red-tailed hawk, volcano hummingbird, black guan, crowned wren-thrush, elegant tragon and acorn woodpecker. 

Some of the most common amphibians and reptiles are the Gerrhonotus monticolus lizard and the mountain salamander. 

Taken together, the parks are estimated to be home to more than 60% of all the vertebrates and invertebrates in Costa Rica. 

Coco Island National Park

Area:
2,400 Terrestrial Ha
97,235 Maritime Ha
Location:
In the Pacific Ocean, 532 Km southwest of Cabo Blanco and the national territory, between 5 30' and 5 34' north latitude and 87 03' and 87 06' west longitude.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

On Coco Island, 235 species of plants have been identified of which 70 area endemic. There are also 57 crustacean, 118 shellfish, 200 fish, 351 insect and 18 coral species. 

The island is covered by an evergreen forest, of the type typically found in South America, with clouds covering the tallest peaks. The landscape is very broken thus forming many waterfalls, some of which are spectacular as they plummet from great heights to the sea. The sea is turquoise and amazingly transparent. 

The marine life is exceptionally abundant, particularly with sharks, notably the hammerhead, which can reach four meters in length, and the white-tipped shark. Also widely found are parrot fish, tuna and mantas. 

The most numerous plant species are the cupey, the endemic Euterpe macrospadix palm and huriki. Ferns, bromeliads and selaginellas are also very abundant. 

 The three endemic bird species are the Coco Island cuckoo. Sea birds are particularly abundant, especially on the nearby islets.

Guanacaste National Park

 Area: 16,804 Ha

This National Park is located in Guanacaste Province, between the Bebedero and Tempisque Rives, approximately 30 Km west of Cañas.

This national park is made up of a mosaic of diverse of limestone hills.

The Palo Verde area is subject to seasonal floods of great magnitude due to its clack of natural drainage. This produces a greater ecological diversity-between 12 and 15 habitats have been identified.

These habitats include salt and fresh water lakes and swamps, grasslands with black mangroves, mangrove swamps, pastures, lowland stunted forests, wooded savannas and evergreen forests.

The most conspicuous species and the one from which the park takes its name is the "palo verde" or horese bean, a leafy bush with nuts branches and parts of its trunk colored light green. The hills area home to an endemic species of cactus. The lignum-vitae, a tree prized for its wood and in imminent danger of extinction, is also found here.

Palo Verde's natural water system has created an environment capable of supporting one of the largest concentrations of waterfowl and wading birds, both native and migratory, in the country and, in fact, in all of Central America. 

The forests are the nesting grounds of the endangered jabiru and home to the only colony of scarlet macaws in the Dry Pacific.

Some of the most abundant mammals are the howler and white-faced monkeys, white-nosed coati, white-tailed deer, tree squirrel and porcupine. Crocodiles up to five meters long have been sighted in the Tempisque River. 

Irazu Volcano National Park

Area: 2,309 Ha
Location:
31 Km northeast of Cartago

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Irazu is an active volcano 3,432 meters above sea level, with a long history of eruptions and eruptive cycles. 

This activity has been characterized by the emission of large clouds of steam, ash and cinders, often accompanied by small local or regional earth tremors, subterranean noises and rumblings, and showers of small and large rocks which usually fall near the rim of the crater. 

Irazu summit has four craters: the main or western crater, the "Diego de la Haya," and two small craters, one southeast and the other northwest of the main crater. 

The flora has undergone considerable changes because of the eruptions. At present, areas of open and stunted vegetation can be seen around the craters while, elsewhere, areas with secondary forests and the remains of primary forests predominate. Common species found within the vicinity of the craters are arrayan. 

 Irazus animal life is very sparse. Some of the mammals observed in the upper regions are the Eastern cottontail, coyote, long-nosed armadillo, porcupine and weasel. Birds include the volcano junco, ant-eating woodpecker, unspotted saw-whet owl and the ruddy woodcreeper. 

Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve

Area: 2,279 Ha
Location:
15 Km southwest of Bagaces in Guanacaste Province

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lomas de Barbudal has a wealth of insect species, particularly bees, wasps, butterflies and moths. It is estimated that there are between 200 and 300 species of bees and some 60 species of moths. 

The reserve contains permanent rivers, many springs, and boasts of magnificent scenery. 

Vertebrates are numerous, and some 130 species of birds have been sighted including the turkey vulture, elegant tragon, scarlet macaw and keel-billed toucan. 

The most frequently observed mammals are the howler and white-nosed coati and, occasionally, white-tailed deer. 

Most of the trees in the deciduous forest drop their leaves during the dry season. Some of the most common species include the spiny cedar, gumbo-limbo and wild plum. 

The riparian woods consist of a strip along the rivers and gulches. They are mostly evergreen and are considered the densest and most species rich in the area, and contain exceptional numbers of solitary bees. 

The savanna is an open grassland area with scattered trees, mainly the rough-leaf tree and the shoemaker's tree. 

The gallery forest is formed by a mixture of evergreen and such deciduous species as the chilce tree, rubber tree and tempisque.

Guayabo Island, Negritos Islands and
Pájaros Island Biological Reserves

Area:
147 Ha (total)
Location:
Guayabo Island is situated 8 Km south of Puntarenas. There are two Negritos Islands, oriented east and west, separated by the Montague Channel, 16.5 Km south of Puntarenas. Pajaros Island is only 500 meters from the eastern coast of the Gulf, 13 Km northwest of Puntarenas.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The reason for establishing the islands as biological reserves were to preserve large populations of marine birds, conserve the flora and fauna and ensure the permanent enjoyment of so much natural beauty.

Most of the vegetation covering the islands consists of shrubs and small plants; some of them, thorny species approximately half a meter high. The shrubs include guaco, which serves as nesting sights; wild figs, which are very scarce and stunted because of the poor soil and strong winds, and coyol and viscoyol palms. 

The fauna consists almost entirely of birds. The most common species are the brown pelican, magnificent frigate bird, laughing gull and brown booby, which is one of the most common species of sabird in the tropics. During certain seasons, migratory seabirds visit these islands as well. 

The islands play a major part in protecting the bird life, particularly since one of the largest populations of brown pelicans, some 200 to 300 individuals, makes its nests here. 

Also, the pregrine falcon spends the winter in this area. 

Other species found on the islands include the ctenosaur, fiddler crab and Sally light foot crab. 

Palo Verde National Park

Area: 16,804 Ha

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Located in Guanacaste Province, between the Bebedero and Tempisque Rives, approximately 30 Km west of Cañas. 

This national park is made up of a mosaic of diverse food plain habitats, bordered by rivers and a ridge of limestone hills. 

The Palo Verde area is subject to seasonal floods of great magnitude due to its lack of natural drainage. This produces a greater ecological diversity -between 12 and 15 habitats have been identified. 

These habitats include salt and fresh water lakes and swamps, grasslands with black mangroves, mangrove swamps, pastures, lowland stunted forests, wooded savannas and evergreen forests. 

 The most conspicuous species and the one from which the park takes its name is the "palo verde" or horse bean, a leafy bush with its branches and parts of its trunk colored light green. The hills are home to an endemic species of cactus. The lignum-vitae, a tree prized for its wood and in imminent danger of extinction, is also found here. 

Palo Verde's natural water system has created and environment capable of supporting one of the largest concentrations of waterfowl and wading birds, both native and migratory, in the country and, in fact, in all of Central America. 

The forests are the nesting grounds of the endangered jabiru and home to the only colony of scarlet macaws in the Dry Pacific. 

Some of the most abundant mammals are the howler and white-faced monkeys, white-nosed coati, white-tailed deer, tree squirrel and porcupine. Crocodiles up to five meters long have been sighted in the Tempisque River.

Poas Volcano National Park

Area: 5,600 Ha
Location:
In the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, 37 Km north of Alajuela on the Alajuela-San Pedro de Poas route.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poas Volcano, 2,708 meters high, is one of the most spectacular in the country. this park protects various types of forest containing abundant epiphytes and parasitic plants growing on the tree trunks. 

Poas's crater is an enormous, gaping hole one kilometer in diameter and 314 meters deep. At the bottom, there is a circular hot lake. The long-extinct von Frantzius composite cone -the oldest eruptive center on the massif, is at the north of the active crater. Another cone named Botos is to the southwest. It was the active center until 7,500 years ago and now contains an astonishingly beautiful cold water lake some 400 meters in diameter. 

The park presents four major habitats: an area of arrayans, a stunned forest, a cloud forest and areas with little or no vegetation. 

Small animal life is scarce, although birds abound. Some of the 79 species observed include the sooty robin, black guan, resplendent quetzal, green toucan and flame-throated warbler. 

Santa Rosa National Park

 Area: 
37,217 Terrestrial Ha
78,000 Maritime Ha

This park is located in the Guanacaste Province, 36 Km north of Liberia.

This is one of the country's most important historic areas. The ranch house "La Casona" and the stone corrals witnessed the nation's greatest heroic deed: the Battle of Santa Rosa which took place on March 20th, 1856.

The beautiful Nancite and Naranjo Beaches are major nesting grounds for the olive ridley, leatherback and Pacific green sea turtles. Nancite is where the largest "arribadas" of olive ridley turtles in tropical America come ashore. 

There are ten habitats, including savannas, consisting of jaragua grassland and various trees such as the live oak, shoemaker's tree and rough-leaf tree, among others. 

 The deciduous forests contains some 240 species of trees and shrubs; among them Costa Rica's National Tree, the Guanacaste or ear tree, gumbo-limbo and mayflower. In the evergreen forest the dominant species are locust, chicle, oak, tempisque and bitter wood.

The fauna is rich and diverse as well. More than 155 species of mammals have been identified, more than half of which are bats. There are also 253 species of birds, 100 of amphibians and reptiles, and over then thousand types of insects, including some 3,140 species of butterflies and moths.

The most conspicuous mammals are the howler and white-faced monkeys, armadillo, white-tailed deer, white-nosed coati, collared peccary, raccoon and the spiny pocket mouse, which is the most abundant of all.

Some of the birds found include the magpie jay, orange-fronted parakeet, elegant Trojan, rufous-naped wren, crested caracara, great curassow, common black hawk and long-tailed manakin.
 
 

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