Guanacaste National Park

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Guanacaste National Park


Guanacaste National Park in concert with Santa Rosa National Park forms a 'Megapark.'
Guanacaste National Park in concert with Santa Rosa National Park forms a 'Megapark.'

Guanacaste National Park provides protection for approximately 35,000 hectares of tropical dry forests, rainforests and pasture lands. Created in 1989, Guanacaste National Park was declared with the principal intention of forming a biological corridor to connect Santa Rosa National Park with high elevation cloud forest and Caribbean slope rain forest. The 70,000 hectares of Guanacaste National Park extend from Santa Rosa's border with the PanAmerican Highway northeastward to the peaks of Orosi and Cacao Volcanoes and across the Continental Divide onto the Caribbean slopes of these two volcanoes. In 1991, Guanacaste National Park was established by executive decree, and in concert with Santa Rosa National Park forms a ‘megapark.’ This extension of Santa Rosa will hopefully provide a sufficiently large area of protected land to ensure the future of wide-ranging species such as Jaguar and Mountain Lion, while at the same time allowing those species of birds and insects that make local seasonal migrations between the dry forest and the evergreen cloud and rain forests to continue their annual movements without threat of continued loss of habitat. Although a large part of the park was formerly used for raising cattle, it is home to some 2,250 plant species, 125 species of birds, 25 mammal species, and almost 2,000 species of insects.

The wildlife on the moist volcanic slopes include howler and White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys, tapirs, ground sloths, jaguars, collared peccaries and three-wattled bellbirds, among others and the middle ground is home for curassows, deer, the tropical rattlesnake, the very poisonous Fer-de-Lance snake, and the rat-eating snake to name a few.

Guanacaste is basically divided into 3 sectors and each sector has a biological station that provides research facilities for scientists and ecotourists. The sectors are: Cacao, Maritza and Pitilla.


Cacao Sector

Cacao Volcano is surrounded by steep terrain which changes from dry tropical forest in the lowlands to cloud and rain forest in the higher altitudes. The view from Cacao Station includes Nicaragua Lake, the beaches at Coco, Santa Rosa National Park and the plains at the foot of the volcano. There is a fire lookout station located at Pedregal hill for monitoring and controlling forest fires but that also offers a panoramic view of the Costa Rica countryside.

Maritza Sector

Maritza provides protection for the headwaters of several important rivers at the continental divide. The biological station at Maritza conducts research in aquatic biology and insects. The inland rainforests in this sector are the home to hundreds of petroglyphs which are spread over more than 50 hectares.

Pitilla Sector

Pitilla is a sector of largely unexplored rain forest and biological diversity. Pitilla Station is located on the slopes of the Caribbean side of Orosi Volcano. Views of Lake Nicaragua, the floodplains and the rainforests shape part of the environment at Pitilla.

Cacao Station

The biological station at Cacao is open 24 hours with visitor inquiries from 8am to 4pm. Dormitory style lodging has the capacity to house 32 people with 4 rooms, 4 restrooms and 2 showers. Kitchen and dining area is available for researchers and groups.

Getting to Guanacaste National Park

• from San Jose take the Interamerican highway to Liberia

• continue on the Interamerican highway past Liberia about 20 miles until you reach Potrerillos

• turn right and drive 6 miles to Quebrada Grande, then left and follow the Park signs

Maritza Station

The biological station at Maritza is open 24 hours with visitor inquiries from 8am to 4pm. Dormitory style lodging that has the capacity to house 32 people with 4 rooms, 4 restrooms, showers and electricity. A research lab and classroom are also available.

Getting there

• from San Jose take the Interamerican highway to Liberia

• continue on the Interamerican highway past Liberia and through Potrerillos

• a few miles before you reach Colonia Bolanos, turn to the right and follow the Park signs

Pitilla Sector

The biological station at Pitilla is open 24 hours with visitor inquiries from 8am to 4pm. Two room dormitory style with 20 beds, three showers and restrooms, but no electricity. Laboratory and classrooms are available.

Getting there

• from San Jose, take the Interamerican highway to Liberia

• continue on the Interamerican highway past Liberia and through Potrerillos

• a few miles before you reach La Cruz, turn to the right and drive 20 miles to Santa Cecilia

• from there turn right and go 1 mile, then turn right again and follow the Park signs

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