Costa Rica is widely known in the world for its efforts in biodiversity conservation. Over a quarter of the territory has been set aside for preservation through a consolidated system of national parks and protected areas. A good proportion of these parks and reserves are found in Guanacaste, some nearby National Parks and Conservation Areas are:
- Guanacaste Conservation Area. Located in the northwest end of the province, with an extension of 300,000 acres of land and 170,000 acres covered by ocean. It embraces a great diversity of ecosystems where you can visit the humid forest of the Caribbean and the oldest and driest zones of Costa Rica.
Tempisque Conservation Area. The middle north region of Costa Rica, comprises part of the Guanacaste and Tilaran mountain ranges. Here it is possible to observe majestic volcanoes such as the Miravalles, Tenorio and Arenal You may also enjoy exotic places like the Lake Cote, the Prairies of Guanacaste, including one of the best dry forest left in Central America, filled with glamorous trees of Pochote, Cedar and Guanacaste. Around 190 endemic species of plants from Costa Rica have been found here, some of them are exclusively of this zone.
- National Park Volcan Rincón de la Vieja. The exuberant primary dry forest covering this park is home to thousand of beautiful orchids and about 300 species of birds and mammals that live in the diverse ecosystems. The major attractions are the “smoking” lagoons with fumaroles, which silently boil in the middle of the premontane forest by their smoking columns. This amzing, peaceful paradise has trails that lead to the “pailas” and volcanic cones. You will observe the most active volcamo in the country and be able to enjoy mud baths, geysers, caverns, natural saunas, steaming baths and hot water lagoons. The highest point, 6,286 feet over sea level, is the crater Santa Maria that is currently inactive and covered with green vegetation.
- Santa Rosa National Park. The main attraction of this park is an old wooden house: “La Casona of Santa Rosa”. Its stone walls are of great historical importance to the country, as “The battle of Santa Rosa”, the most important national war, took place here in 1856. This important monument was lost during a fire in 2001, but rebuilt completely in 2002. Santa Rosa still preserves an example of the dry forest of Central America. Its beautiful beaches Nancite and Naranjo are enchanting and are the nesting sites for the green sea and leatherback turtles. The forest is home to around 115 species of mammals, 253 species of birds, 100 amphibians and reptiles and over 10,000 species of insects, including 3,140 species of butterflies and moths.
- National Park Palo Verde. With an extension of 16.804 hectares, Palo Verde is one of the country’s most diverse ecologic places. It is surrounded by lagoons, salty and fresh water marshes, mangroves, pasturelands and different types of forests. Its natural hydrographic systems create perfect conditions for an important number of aquatic and migratory birds. From September to March, thousand of herons, storks, grebes, ibis, ducks and gallinules gather in the lagoons to feed and reproduce. La Isla Pájaros, with 5.7 acres, located in front of the park, is home to the country’s largest colony of the martinete coroninegro and the nesting place to a variety of birds such as the ibis morito, the pato aguja, the garza rosada, the garzón, the garza real and the garcilla bueyera. Within the park nest the galán sin ventura, an endangered species, a unique population of red macaw.
- Las Baulas National Marine Park. This park includes the Playa Grande beach, one of the most important turtle nesting places of the world for the leatherback turtle, the largest turtle on planet. These turtles can be of 8 feet long and weigh nearly 1,550 pounds. The “baula” (leatherback) is the only turtle that has a shell that looks like leather. It is very easy to identify, due to it’s big fore flippers. This nomad turtle eats poisonous jellyfish. Green sea turtles (“lora turtles”) also lay their eggs on Playa Grande.
- Additional natural attractions. Scenic beauty is also found in other parks of Guanacaste. The Volcan Tenorio includes a dense forest with a tuquoise rive (Rio Celeste) and a waterfall flowing through it. The National Park Barra Honda, will surprise you with limestone caves found over 65 feet deep. The “Ostional Wildlife Refuge” is considered to be the most important nesting site of the green see turtle “lora”. Thousand of them gather to lay about 1 million of eggs from July to November. Another perfect place for turtles is the Recreational area of Junquillal, located in the Golfo Santa Elena, in La Cruz. Its beaches offer turtle nesting sites for the “lora”, carey, verde and baula turtles, and are also an excellent refuge for water birds such as the dark pelicans and tijeretas de mar. Isla Bolaños island is the most important place for water birds. Colonies of brown pelicans and magnificent fragata birds are found there. We also recommend visiting the Private Sanctuary Las Pumas, the largest sanctuary for wild cats in Latin America.
Extraordinary sights and wondrous sites can be found all over the country of Costa Rica. Click here for the top ten tourist attractions of Costa Rica.