Braulio Carrillo National Park
From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park, which occupies a large area of the country's central mountain range, is the park you through on your way from San Jose to the Caribbean coast. Located about 45 minutes from downtown San Jose, is home to several dormant volcanoes: Cerro Chompipe, Cerro Cacho Negro, Cerros las Tres Marias and Barva. Interwoven in the landscape of the park, is one of rugged mountains, rushing rivers, majestic waterfalls, deep canyons and cloud and rainforest. It also happens to be one of the cloudiest places in Costa Rica.
Braulio Carrillo National Park was founded in 1978 due to the pressure applied by environmentalists who feared that the opening of a highway between San Jose and Guapiles would provide loggers and developers with access to rapidly vanishing virgin forest. Deforestation had been the consequence of the opening of many other roads throughout the country.
The park contains five distinctly separate forest habitats, dominated by the wet tropical forest. Hundreds of varieties of orchids and ferns, and a majority of the bird species native to Costa Rica are found here. The unusual abundance of flora and fauna in the area is caused by a wide variance of rainfall, temperature and altitude. The park protects an extensive region, from the lowlands near the plains, at 200 meters above sea level, to the top of the Barba Volcano, at almost 3,000 meters above sea level.
Besides the volcanoes, and the over 6000 species of lush foliage in the park, the rainforest provides shelter for an endless number of wildlife from the bushmaster snake, the largest poisonous snake on the continent, to the Bufo holdridgei toad. And of course there’s always the howler and white-faced monkeys, tapirs, ocelots, cougars, jaguars, jaguarundies, white-tailed deer, pacas, agouties, raccoons, white-nosed coatis, kinkajous, grey squirrels, Southern opossum, two- and three-toed sloths and five species of bats. Over 350 bird species call Braulio Carrillo home, among them, the strange Three-Wattled Bellbird, King Vulture, Great Curassow, Clay-Colored Robin, Solitary Eagle, Black-Faced Solitaire and Resplendent Quetzal.
It should be noted that even during the dry season the paths are often muddy and slippery and also that many people both local and foreign, have gotten lost in the Braulio Carrillo National Park and it’s important to stick to the marked paths.
When exploring Braulio Carrillo it’s definitely worth visiting the Aerial Tram located in the protected area towards Guapiles. This tram provides an opportunity for visitors to spot flora and fauna that would otherwise be hidden from view when being explored from the ground. Animals can also be spotted depending on the time of day, but obviously this is not a guarantee, but the tram is still worth the time. The Aerial Tram also has a restaurant and visitors center on the premises.
Braulio Carrillo is located in close proximity to San Jose and is easily accessible, so shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area.
There are three ranger stations in Braulio Carrillo National Park which are open from 8:00-4:00. Hiking trails with scenic overlooks wind round the different areas of the park and trail guides are available.
The ranger stations are equipped with restrooms and picnic areas.
Getting to Braulio Carrillo National Park
• From San Jose
• take the highway towards Limon
• this highway winds through the Park and subsequently passes two ranger stations (the Zurqui sector and the Carrillo)
• the third sector, Barva Volcano is reached driving through Heredia
• then turn north and drive through Barva, San Jose de la Montana, and Sacramento