Barra Honda National Park, Guanacaste

The portion of the Tempisque Basin where the Nicoya Peninsula reaches the mainland contains a foundation made up of limestone that is relatively soft. Perhaps the most notable feature of Barra Honda National Park is the caves, which have been cut through the small mountains by water.

For travelers interested in experiencing eco-tourism in Costa Rica, Barra Honda Caverns National Park is an ideal setting, as it features some of the most unique natural landmarks in the country.

Spelunking at Barra Honda Caves

There are more than 40 limestone caverns at the park, all of which are still in very good condition, due to the fact that the entrances are difficult to navigate. As a result, climbing gear, a guide and permission from the Parks service are all needed to enter the caves.

Ranging from just a few meters to more than 780 feet deep, the caverns were discovered in the late 1960s. Prior to their discovery, many experts believed that Cerro Barra Honda (the 1459-foot hill at the park) was a volcano due to the sounds made by bats as they left the caverns.

Some caves that are definitely worth visiting while here include the Santa Ana, which sits some 240 meters below the surface, La Trampa, which is 110 meters deep and the Nicoya, where pre-Columbian artifacts, jewelry and burial sites have been found. The Pozo Hediondo cave is another great place to explore, but be warned as it is filled with bat colonies.

With numerous stalagmites that arise from the floor and stalactites that hang from the ceiling, a trip through these caves is an experience to remember. Ideal for the avid spelunking enthusiasts or if you don’t mind small dark spaces, this cave system is not for the faint hearted as you have to enter the caves vertically via a rope and harness. To see the best that the Barra Honda National Park has to offer, a guided tour ideal as you can get lost very easily out here.

Other Activities

In addition to the remarkable caverns, Barra Honda Caverns National Park also boasts an extensive network of hiking trails, which provide travelers with an opportunity to explore the tropical dry forest. One of the rarest habitats on earth, the tropical dry forest features an interesting blend of wildlife, from the treasured capuchin monkeys to the seemingly out-of-place cacti.

Animals Found at Barra Honda National Park

Other creatures one can expect to find while hiking through Barra Honda Caverns National Park are deer, peccaries, agoutis, kinkajous and howler monkeys. The main trail is a continuation of the entrance road into the park and winds through secondary forests to Cerro Barra Honda. There, travelers will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Tempisque valley.

Finally, tourists also have a chance to spend the night at Barra Honda Caverns National Park, one of the few places where one can enjoy a bed and roof in the middle of a national park.

For those who have the proper equipment, a camping site is situated in the area next to the ranger station, where maps of the park's hiking trails can be obtained. Bathrooms and showers are also available at the camping site.

Due to the risk of flooding during the rainy season, the caves are not open during that period, so make sure to visit during the dry season to get the most out of your trip to Barra Honda Caverns National Park.

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