Braulio Carrillo National Park

Location: 19 miles (30 km) N of San Jose through Heredia and Sacramento.
Hours: 8 a. m. to 4 P. m., closed Monday.
Information: Telephone hotline 192, (506) 290-1927, fax (506) 232-5324.

Braulio Carrillo National Park protects a large area north and east of San Jose. The highest part of the park is accessible at the Barva entrance. Barva volcano is also one of the highest summits in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range; its three peaks are known as Las Tres Marias.

To walk in this lofty sector is to experience the mystical silence of the cloud forest. See quetzals more between January and March when they are nesting, though park rangers report some stay year-round. They are among 125 bird species, including the three-wattled bellbird and volcano hummingbird. Mammals are not seen as often as in lower sections of the park, though tracks of jaguar and tapir are found. Agoutis, mountain lions, tayras, porcupines, coyotes, and two-toed sloths live here. Keep an eye out for smaller things, like scarabs; some 21 species of beetles are registered.

Trails are lined with large-leafed poor-man's umbrella and tiny blossoms of trees and shrubs; there is a veritable banquet of bromeliads. Exquisite rain-fed lakes shimmer in volcanic craters. The trail from the ranger station to Barva Lagoon, 1.8 miles (3 km) of breathtaking beauty, climbs gently in spots and is almost level in others. Air is a bit thin-it's about 9,500 feet (2,900 in) elevation. Flock after flock of mixed species of birds feed along the path; tiny flowers and colored leaves found at this elevation demand attention. The view from the mirador (view point) above the crater lake is worth the short climb, sparkling in sunshine and magically shrouded in mists. Linger a bit on the chance of seeing a magnificent hummingbird feed in nearby flowers. From Barva Lagoon, it's 1 V2 miles (21/2 km) to Copey, a shallow lake that becomes isolated ponds in dry season. A third lake, Danta, is the largest and least accessible.

Barva lies at the upper end of an important migration corridor that joins Braulio Carrillo with lowland forest protected by the Organization for Tropical Studies' La. Selva Biological Station near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, extremely important for migrating species of birds, butterflies, moths, and perhaps bats. Research has shown that this ecosystem is home to 17 species of threatened birds; 81 species of North American migratory birds depend on this habitat during migration or for wintering.

Camping is allowed at the station and bunks can be rented when not in use by parks. Bathrooms and covered picnic area are at the entrance, and more covered shelters are in the forest off the trail. In addition to rain gear, bring a jacket. Temperatures range from 370F to 680F (30C to 200 C).


By bus: From Heredia take Paso Llano bus from Central Market; continue by foot 4 miles (6 km) to park or take Heredia bus to Sacramento.
By car: From Heredia, continue to Sacramento; in rainy season the 2v2miles (4 km) on to the ranger station require four-wheel-drive-one terrible road. Other: Area hotels and agencies in San Jose offer one-day tours.

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Telephone: +1.888.365.0904 / +506.2643.2953 -- Fax: +506.2643.1356
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