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National Parks in Costa Rica
National Parks in Costa Rica
The beauty and ecological importance of Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest and cloud forest environment means it is better protected than in any other country on the planet, mainly thanks to the numerous national parks that today exist across the country.
1970 and the introduction of the national parks system in Costa Rica
Costa Rica covers approximately 51,000 square kilometers, of which over 25% comprises parks, refuges and reserves. Poás Volcano National Park was the first one established, while in 1970, at a time when deforestation was rife in the country, the National Parks System was establishedin an attempt to protect a rapidly shrinking ecosystem and which today is under the wing of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE).
10% of Costa Rica is divided up between 27 national parks, while a further 17% of the country comprises 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 16 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves, 8 biological reserves and 12 additional conservation regions. There are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Costa Rica.
A selection of Costa Rica’s national parks
It would be wrong to label any of the national parks in Costa Rica as ‘the best’ or the ‘most important’ as each and everyone plays an equally important role in the protection of the country’s flora and fauna, including many, many endangered species. At Costa Rica Rios we have come to know many of these parks intimately, and we know that for adventure tours, some are more appropriate, while others are of greater significance to botanists, zoologists and lepidopterists.
Below are a few of the national parks in Costa Rica that we consider as adventurers, you will enjoy the most:
- Arenal Volcano National Park–site of Arenal and Chato volcanoes and covering 121 square kilometers, the park was established in 1991. Home to most of the country’s 850 species of birds, other wildlife found within the park includes the resplendent quetzal, white-faced capuchin monkeys, jaguars, deer, coati, and the fer-de-lance and parrot snakes
- Tortuguero National Park –wide biological diversity owing to the existence of 11 different habitats, including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons. Covers 312 square kilometers and was established in 1975.
- Corcovado National Park–located on the Osa Peninsula and covering 424 square kilometers, the park was founded in 1975. Often referred to as the ‘crown jewel’ of the country’s National Park System, this is home to very varied wildlife including jaguars and pumas, the American crocodile and caimans, Central American squirrel monkeys, white-faced capuchins, mantled howlers, and Geoffroy’s spider monkeys, two-toed and three-toed sloths, collared peccaries, northern tamanduas, silky anteaters and poison dart frogs.
- Guanacaste National Park–founded in 1991, the park covers 340 square kilometers and is home to 140 species of mammals, over 300 species of birds, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles, and over 10,000 species of insects that have been identified.
- Manuel Antonio National Park –listed by Forbes in 2011 among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks, it covers 20 square kilometers and is one of the most popular national parks in Costa Rica thanks to its excellent trails. Established in 1972 and home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds.
- Turrialba Volcano National Park–site of the recently erupting Turrialba Volcano, established in 1955 and covering 16 square kilometers.Currently closed owing to recent volcanic activity.
- Ballena Marine National Park–covering 13,000 acres of ocean and 9 miles of coastline. Comprised of mangrove forests, coral reefs and untouched beaches, aside from 70 species of fish, this park is home to rare marine life including humpback whales and olive ridley sea turtles, as well as bottle-nose dolphins, sharks, starfish, false orca, green iguana, leatherback turtles and Bryde’s whales.
Specializing in adventure vacations in Costa Rica, here at Costa Rica Rios, aside from our 8-day Adventure Tour, we can create individual, bespoke adventure packages, including a Honeymoon Adventure Vacation, that will take you to many of Costa Rica’s wonderful national parks.
It is hard to resist the allure of Costa Rica if you like exploring and are looking for the adventure of a lifetime, so take advantage of our local knowledge and give us a call. We’ll be glad to talk you through all you can expect from an adventure vacation in Costa Rica, and happily answer any questions you may have.