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Braulio Carrillo, Heredia

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The Braulio Carrillo National Park is one of the most extensive national parks in Costa Rica. We use the word extensive because not only does this park cover an area of over 44,099 hectares, but it also encompasses seven diverse habitats. Created in 1978 to safeguard the diversity of plant and wildlife found in this region, the Braulio Carrillo National Park is indeed worth a visit, whether you are traveling alone or with family.

Lying in Costa Rica’s lush and beautiful Central Valley, this national park is easily accessible from San Jose. Located some 20 km northeast of the capital city, Braulio Carrillo can be reached by taking the Guapiles Highway that goes on to Limon. This highway cuts directly through the national park and offers some spectacular and breathtaking views of the landscape along the way. Named after Costa Rica’s third Chief of State, a firm believer in environmental conservation; the Braulio Carrillo National Park is a key protector of the ecology of the surrounding area.

A park of considerable importance, the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo (as it is officially known) protects many of the streams that flow through the Central Valley as they originate from here. With rugged high mountains, lush primeval forests, two extinct volcanoes, beautiful waterfalls, meandering rivers and a stunning cloud forest, this park is a nature lover’s delight. The highest point in the park is the Brava Volcano, which extends 2906 meters above sea level. The lowest point in the park is in the Caribbean lowlands of La Selva, at 36 meters.

Home to more than 500 species of birds, 6000 species of trees and plants, and over 135 species of animals, the Braulio Carrillo is the dwelling of the magnificent Quetzal as well as the habitat of the fast disappearing palmito and tepezcuintle trees. Toucans, guans, eagles, jaguars, tapirs, monkeys are just some of the many birds and mammals that can be spotted throughout the park. Also found here is South America’s largest venomous snake, the Bushmaster.

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of this national park is an orange color stream called the Rio Sucio or ‘Dirty River’, which gets its name from the sulfur deposits found on the Irazu Volcano. The best time to visit the Braulio Carrillo National Park is in March and April, when there is less rain. However, higher elevations in the park can get extremely cold anytime of the year; therefore, it is recommended that one wear warm clothing when coming here. There are several hiking trails throughout the park and three ranger stations, but there are no proper services or accommodations out here.
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