Visiting Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park is one of the biggest and most diverse national parks in Costa Rica. The protected area is made up mostly of primary forest, includes the Barva Volcano and covers over 108,000 acres of rolling hills covered with amazingly dense vegetation and beautiful scenery. The highest peak in the park is 9,534 feet. It is also adjacent to the La Selva Biological Station, one of the best field stations in the world. La Selva is located in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui and hosts hundreds of scientists to conduct tropical rainforest research and promote preservation and conservation.
Braulio Carrillo National Park is names after the third president of Costa Rica, who was active in the conservation movement and helped develop Costa Rica into a coffee production powerhouse. Indeed, Braulio Carrillo National Park is a testament to amalgamating environmental concerns with the growth of tourism and the need for modern transportation.
Great for a day trip!
Braulio Carrillo is close and easy to get to from San Jose. The Guapiles highway, the Zurqui, runs right through the park. Many tourists stop by the park on their way to Puerto Viejo in order to hike the trails or glide through the natural flora and fauna in an aerial tram. Keep your eye out for sloths, howler monkeys and white faced capuchin monkeys!
Braulio Carrillo National Park expands over 110,000 acres. Including the greatest altitudinal range of any Costa Rican park. It spans at least five different habitat zones and is home to over six thousand different types of plant life. The park is also home to several rapidly vanishing tree species, such as the palmito, valued for its heart, nicknamed the poor man’s umbrella because of its enormous leaves. Also check out the unofficial park mascot, the tepezcuintle (Lowland paca). The park also contains over five hundred species of birds and nearly 150 different species of mammals. Bring your camera and capture a resplendent quetzal, tanagers, hummingbirds or a bare-necked umbrella bird! Because of the high diversity found in Braulio Carrillo National Park, it is hard to give an average for any weather condition. Annual rainfall can vary from 400 to 800 centimeters, and temperatures range between 15 and 30 C depending on elevation.
There are many challenging hiking options through Braulio Carrillo. A couple hikes include the Cacho Negro, Cherro Chompipe, and Cherro Turo. You can also hike to the dramatic, San Fernando waterfall.You can also start at the Puesto Barva Station and hike the lake in the crater of the Barva Volcano. From there you can hike with a guide and permit to the biological station, La Selva. It takes about 4 days to get there.
If you want to enjoy the canopy from the sky, take the rainforest aerial tram on the eastern side of the national park. The gondolas take 4 passengers and a guide who will point out wildlife along the way. The tram goes up to 170 meters in the canopy, giving you one of the best views of the tropical rainforest! There are a few hikes included with the price of the aerial tram tour so you can explore the trails after your ride.
Braulio Carrillo National Park is very close to San Jose, making it a great day trip. Take the Guapiles highway and drive right through the park, hike some trails lush with flora and fauna and take a ride in the ride in aerial tram before heading back to the city. Day trips from San Jose can be arranged with the park. If you’re staying in San Jose, you can also visit another volcano national park like the Irazu Volcano or the Poas Volcano on a day trip.
Be prepared for cold and rain:
The best time to visit for the driest weather is March and April. However you can expect it to rain all year round in Braulio Carrillo, so dress accordingly!
Leave the jungle behind:
Do not take any rocks or plants with you when you leave. Enjoy the many bird species, monkeys and gorgeous flora and fauna while you’re there, but don’t bring any of it with you when you leave!
Visit the Caribbean Coast:
The highway to Braulio Carrillo is the same one that will take you to the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. Don’t miss your chance to visit Puerto Viejo, Cahuita National Park and Playa Cocles!