The first national park
in Costa Rica, the Santa Rosa National Park, was founded in 1972 to commemorate the Hacienda Santa Rosa. This was a historic battle fought in March 1856 between the invading forces of American William Walker and a ragtag army of Costa Rican volunteers. The oldest as well as the largest national park in the country, the Santa Rosa National Park is today part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. It protects a sizable portion of the last tropical dry forest in the world.
Located in Guanacaste province
, the Santa Rosa National Park encompasses a huge chunk of the Santa Elena Peninsula - 49,515 hectares to be precise, and with some of the best camping facilities in the country, this park is not to be missed when visiting beautiful Costa Rica.
10 Distinctive Habits
One of the main attractions of this park is that it is the only one of its kind on the planet, where 10 distinctive habitations can be found. Deciduous forests, oak forests, mangrove swamps, littoral woodlands, evergreen forests, marshlands and savannahs cover the entire park area, which is home to over 115 species of mammals, over 10,000 species of insects, 250 species of birds, and around 100 species of amphibians and other reptiles. Whitetail deer, jaguars, collared peccary, olive ridley turtles, coatimundis, leatherback turtles and jaguarundis are just few of the many animals that can be found roaming freely in this park.
Filled with lush vegetation during the rainy season, the Santa Rosa National Park turns into a topical dry forest in summer, with many meandering trails and stunning beaches. The park is divided into two zones, the Santa Rosa section and the Murcielago section. The Santa Rosa section is home to La Casona, a historical mansion, which houses photographs, pictures, drawings and military equipment commemorating the battle of the Hacienda Santa Rosa.
In the Santa Rosa section of the park you will also find well marked out walking trials, which lead visitors through spectacular forests and gushing waterfalls. Some popular trails are the Naked Indian loop trail and the Los Patos trail. Located 13 km from La Casona, are the stunning beaches of Playa Naranjo and Playa Nancite. The white sand Playa Nancite is famous for the nesting of ridley turtles, while the grey sand Playa Naranjo is home to Witches Rock
and some of the best surfing
in the world. In the Murcielago section of the park, amidst rocky peaks and valleys, you will find an old CIA training camp, as well as the home of the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza.