Guapiles, Limon

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Situated in the heart of Costa Rica's banana growing region, Guápiles serves as the country's gateway between the Caribbean coast and the central highlands. Guápiles is the first major town located along Highway 32 when traveling from the capital city of San Jose to Puerto Limon.

Due to its close proximity to a number of national parks and ecological reserves, Guápiles is a perfect place to visit for those looking to explore the country's natural beauty and abundant wildlife. With the increase in lodging facilities, the town itself has begun to dedicate more resources to eco-tourism, making it more than a simple stop-over on the way to the nearby parks and reserves.

Situated just 60 kilometers northeast of San Jose, Guápiles has become a relatively busy area, with a number of shopping centers and services lining the city's main streets. On Saturdays, visitors to the town are encouraged to stop by the agricultural market, which showcases some of the country's finest produce.

Arriving at Guápiles is relatively simple and the town can be accessed from San Jose by car or bus. It takes approximately one hour to get to the community from the capital city, and those coming from the Caribbean side of the country can simply take Highway 32 west from Puerto Limon.

After spending some quality time in Guápiles, travelers should definitely plan a trip to a few of the nearby ecological paradises, including Braulio Carrillo National Park and Tortuguero National Park.

Braulio Carrillo contains a number of dormant volcanoes, crater lakes and primary cloud and rainforests. Established in 1978, the park spans nearly 500 square kilometers and is home to a number of ecological habitats. In total, visitors to the park can find 600 identified tree species, more than 530 species of bird and 135 different mammals.

While it can only be accessed by airplane or boat, nearby Tortuguero National Park is the third-most visited park in Costa Rica. Due to its humid tropical climate and significant annual rainfall, the park is known for its remarkable biodiversity with more than 2,000 plant species. Spider monkeys, jaguars, crocodiles and a number of turtle species can be found within the park.

In all, Guápiles is a center for Costa Rican tourists, as it provides plenty of activities and sights both within its limits and in nearby protected areas.