Guayabo National Monument

Location: 12 miles (19 km) NE of turrialba from San Jose 40 miles (65 km).
Size: 538 acres (218 ha).
Hours: 8 a. m. to 3:30 p. m., closed Monday.
Information: Telephone hotline 192, (506) 290-1927, fax (506) 232- 5324.

may have occupied the area as early as 1000 B.C.; at its peak Guayabo is estimated to have had 300 to 500 residents, though perhaps as many as 10,000 lived in surrounding villages, supplying labor and revenue to this religious and political center. There was little new building after A.D. 800, and the site was abandoned by 1400. Some theorize that wars and disease contributed to the abandonment.

Visitors today see calzadas (cobbled roads), stone-lined water-storage tanks, open and covered aqueducts that carried water through the site (many still in use), and monticulos (mounds) with stone-covered bases. Park information signs depict conical houses believed to have been built on the mounds out of wood and palm leaves. Trails lead past open tombs, plundered before the park was established. Stylized forms of a jaguar and caiman

decorate a striking monolith; 63 petroglyphs picture birds and animals as well as art whose meaning is still unknown. Many mysteries of people and place remain.

A conservation and excavation project, begun in August 1989, increased the excavated area to half of the almost-50-acre (20-ha) archaeological site. Among items found are golden bells, carved stone tables, roasted corn kernels, beautiful pottery, a copper-and-gold frog, and a sacrificial stone. Some pieces are exhibited at the National Museum in San Jose.

Guayabo protects the only remaining primary forest in the province of Cartago, accounting for 22 percent of the park; other forest is rich, naturally regenerating secondary forest. More than 80 varieties of orchids and other epi

phytes adorn trees; toucans are present, as are hummingbirds, woodcreepers ' chachalacas, woodpeckers, and brown jays (ticos call them piapias and say they are the scouts of the forest, their warning cries signaling that an intruder is near). Notice long, hanging nests built by oropendolas. Mammals include sloths, kinkajous, coatis, rabbits, squirrels, and armadillos.

Local guides accompany visitors on Sendero de los Monticulos, the interpretive trail that leads through the archaeological site to a mirador with a fantastic view of the ruins below, mountain peaks, and Turrialba's valley. Another view point overlooks the excavation of a road that ran from

Guayabo to an outlying area. Visitors can explore Los Cantarillos nature trail, which offers either a short or longer loop down to the Lajitas River. It can be muddy in the wet season. Rainfall averages 138 inches (3,500 mm), with driest months February and March. Average temperature is 68'F (20'C), and elevation is 3,150 to 4,265 feet (960 to 1,300 m).

A small visitor center is opposite the park entrance. A nearby camping area has tent sites, bathrooms, and potable water.

Getting There

By bus: From Turrialba, take the bus to Guayabo.
By car: Paved from Turrialba; signs point the way. A more adventurous
route is described in the Turrialba section.
Other: Taxi from Turrialba.

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Tel:+1.888.365.0904 / +506.2643.2953
Fax: +506.2643.1356

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