National Parks in Costa Rica
Turrialba Volcano National Park
The Turrialba region is located 65 km east of San José, northwest of the city of Cartago.
The main attraction is the Turrialba volcano (3340 meters above sea level) and the neighboring Irazu volcano, which is why they are often called twin volcanoes. Volcano Turrialba includes three equally active craters. The central crater is the deepest (50 meters deep).
The average temperature in this area is +16°C.
Turrialba is the second largest and only volcano in Costa Rica, allowing you to descend into one of its three craters and observe secondary volcanic activity up close.
This high humidity region is a mosaic of primeval mountain forests, biological reserves and coffee plantations. It maintains a delicate balance between agricultural activities and the preservation of the environment. The scenic beauty, diversity of flora and fauna, rafting and kayaking opportunities make Turrialba a favorite destination for adventure travelers and nature explorers. Jungle and rainforest lovers will be attracted by numerous hiking trails. For those who prefer horseback riding and cycling, there are also excellent opportunities for outdoor activities.
Tortuguero National Park
Tortuguero National Park is a four hour drive from San José, or 254 km. This is an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Caribbean Sea with its own unique natural conditions. The park got its name after the name of the river of the same name, which flows in these places, has numerous branches, tributaries and canals.
Traveling through the canals, you can see giant iguanas, lizards perched on branches, vultures circling above the treetops, and crocodiles merging with the trunks of palm trees hanging over the smooth surface of the river. In the fog, constantly standing over the river, bats rush swiftly, hunting river fish on the fly.
The journey to Tortuguero usually starts by bus (or plane) from the capital and then continues by boat. Another way to get into the park is simply not provided by nature itself. There are no roads, as such, and civilization has not yet managed to get to these places.
The rivers flowing from the Sierra Mountains towards the Caribbean Sea have, over thousands of years, washed up many kilometers of sandy beaches, which have created unique conditions suitable for the breeding of large sea turtles. The very name of the river and the area is directly related to these amazing marine animals (in Spanish, the turtle is “tortuga” (tortuga)). 50,000 tourists visit Tortuguero every year to see the green turtles that lay their eggs on the park’s beaches from April to May.
For nature lovers, Tortuguero is a real paradise on Earth. Warm tropical rains, which occur regularly here, serve as the basis for a rich biosystem, which is further complicated by the confluence of fresh and salty sea waters. A marshy selva has formed here, which, in turn, creates unique natural conditions.
The national park provides tourists with all the known outdoor activities, but the highlight of your trip to Tortuguero will, of course, be a night sea turtle watching tour. When visiting the park, tourists also have the opportunity to go horseback riding, surfing and fishing in these protected areas. It is very interesting to visit the famous banana plantation “Chicita”.
Monteverde National Park
Monteverde Nature Reserve, located at an altitude of more than 1400 meters of the Tilaran volcanic cordillera, is famous throughout the world as one of the richest natural reserves in the tropical zone. The park includes six different natural areas. This is one of the richest natural reserves in the tropical zone. About 400 species of birds live in the forests of Monteverde, including the famous quetzal – the sacred bird of the Maya, about 100 species of mammals, 120 species of amphibians and reptiles, and about 2,500 species of plants that attract connoisseurs of tropical beauty. More than 400 species of white, purple and yellow orchids gracefully wrap around the trunks and branches of exotic trees.
The foggy forest of the park makes the hearts of biologists, ornithologists and ordinary people beat faster.
In the park there is an opportunity to walk along suspension bridges, and for fans of extreme sports – like Tarzan, make a “canopy tour”. For this, those who wish are suspended on a long metal rope stretched hundreds of meters above the jungle, which allows you to look at the beauty of the national park from a flight height, sometimes reaching up to 40 meters above the base. The traveler is dressed in safety gear, hung on a carbine to a rope, and the “hero” flies over the peaks, enjoying the views of the rainforest and watching its inhabitants from close.
In the vicinity of the reserve there are many hotels (lodges) where you can stay for a few days. At the entrance to the reserve there are feeders for hummingbirds, to which hundreds of these tiny birds flock during the day, nectar-eating bats at night, and after sunset, gray foxes and tree olingo raccoons come. In the mornings flock to feast on the fruits of trees – quetzals, black crabs and other rare birds. At night, you can see tree porcupines, jaguarundi cats.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park was created in 1972 and covers a very small area, which is estimated at about 683 hectares, being the smallest, but at the same time the most beautiful park in Costa Rica. The park is located 180 km from San Jose. The exclusivity of these places lies in the fact that this piece of land with the ocean is one of the most biologically rich regions in the world and offers the best scenery in all of Costa Rica.
Jungles full of exotic animals and birds, white sandy beaches, lush green vegetation surrounded by high mountains, secluded bays, islands and an amazing variety and colors of the underwater world – all these are the components of one of the most romantic places on Earth.
Everywhere there are capuchin monkeys, sloths, iguanas, agoutis, red forest crabs Manuel Antonio – this is a haven for migratory birds that feel great here. In addition to the marine species typical of these places, you can see dolphins and whales near the coast. In this little corner of Costa Rica, you can find an amazing adventure in the rainforest and relaxing on a magnificent beach.
Here, adventure lovers have the opportunity to take walks along the paths of the park, kayak excursions near the coast, horseback riding and fishing.
Mangrove swamps are one of the trump cards in Manuel Antonio’s deck of attractions. Overgrown canals, birds, crocodiles and other rare species of animals accompany tourists throughout a small educational expedition.
Not far from Manuel Antonio there is a whole complex of Damas underground caves. An organized visit to the underground corridors and halls is a real adventure that will add significant variety to your journey. The high arches of a hundred underground halls, stalactites and stalagmites, bats – all this is available for viewing under the vigilant eye of a trained escort. As an attached bonus – swimming in one of the natural underground pools filled with miraculous healing water, so that, in addition to amazing experiences, the descent into the realm of the Minotaur also has a therapeutic effect.
Arenal Volcano National Park
Arenal Volcano National Park, located in the northwest of the country, includes 8 of Costa Rica’s 12 ecological zones and 16 reserves between Guanacaste and the Tilaran mountain range. On the territory of the park there is Lake Arenal and two volcanoes: Chato, in the ruined crater of which an emerald lake was formed, and the Arenal volcano of an ideal conical shape (1633 m) is the main attraction of the park. Arenal is the most active volcano in Costa Rica, the top of which, however, is hidden in the clouds most of the time. In pre-Columbian times, Arenal was especially active, due to which the Indian tribes considered the volcano a sacred creature.
Today, in the Indian village of La Fortuna di San Carlos, located at the foot of the volcano, tourists from all over the world come to freeze in admiration at the sight of fiery lava flows running down the mountainside. However, not everyone can see the eruption, the volcano is often covered by clouds. According to the Indians, the air near the crater is healing, as it is saturated with vapors.
Arenal heats water for hot springs, on which entire cascades of pools, ponds, and waterfalls are built.
In the national park at an altitude of 1700m above sea level, there is an artificial lake of the same name – Arenal. Its area is 80 km2 and is the largest lake in Costa Rica. The lake is deservedly considered one of the best places on the planet for practicing this sport – the winds here are quite strong and constant, especially from April to December.
The climate in the Arenale region is milder and it rains less than in the rest of the country. The temperature can drop to +10 (in winter, night frosts down to -5 C are possible).