Visiting La Amistad International Park
La Amistad International Park is the largest national park in Costa Rica at 479,000 acres. It borders reach throughout Cordillera de Talamanca, a mountain range over 3800 meters of altitude. La Amistad is home to two-thirds of plant and animal species found in Costa Rica, tropical lowland rainforest, cloud forest, tropical upland rainforest and rainy paramo. It is called “La Amistad” (the friendship) because the park is shared with Panama. La Amistad National Park is one of the most biodiverse locations in Central America. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is largely unexplored. Scientists are still discovering new species there and it is home to several indigenous communities including the Naso, Bribri and Ngobe-Buglé.
This protected area is vital for Costa Rica biodiversity and conservation. The rugged terrain and intense jungle make it difficult for tourists to visit. You won’t find convenient amenities there. You will find an incredible amount of plant and animal species. All six tropical cats live there, as well as over 600 bird species, 300 species of reptiles and amphibians, monkeys coatis and over 100 species of fish.
Biodiversity and Wildlife
La Amistad International Park is the largest and the most remote National Park in Costa Rica. Because it is so untouched, you will find unbeatable biodiversity. La Amistad consists of diverse habitats from the tropical lowland rainforest to the tundra ecosystem. There are also Cloud forests in the Northern part.
Hikers and backpackers, scientists and biologists, will all love Parque La Amistad. There are six species of neo-tropical wild cats live there, including jaguars, the puma, the ocelot, the margay, the oncilla and the Jaguarundi. You will see lots of other mammals including monkeys and sloths. There are 300 species of reptiles and amphibians and 115 species of fish. You won’t find better birding anywhere else either. There are 400 species of birds living in La Amistad International Park and thanks to its remoteness, they are easy to spot.
If you’re visiting La Amistad, you’re visiting to hike! Hiking in La Amistad International Park is a once in a lifetime experience. However, you need a guide to help you navigate this tremendous park. A guide will not only help you spot wildlife, but he’ll keep on the designated paths so you’ll have a safe, incredible trip.
Amistad is surrounded by other parks and reserves, including Chirripo National Park. Bocas del Torro, in Panama is another incredible trip you can take from the area.
La Amistad International Park reached the Sector Pittier via San Vito de Coto Brus. The trails there lead to the Canasta River, La Catarata (waterfall), the Cerro Pittier and the Valle del Silencio (Valley of the Silence). The Sector of the Tres Colinas (three hills) has trails that will take you to Sabanas Esperanza and Cerro Kamuk. If you want to get to the Altamira Sector, its located close to Buenos Aires has trails that will take you to the Valle del Silencio, Gigantes Bosques, Canasta and Sabanas Esperanza. To explore this park ask about the various tours offered there. The park has two camping sites, complete with electricity and drinking water, restrooms and showers. In addition, there is also an observatory and research facility available to biologists and scientists.
Hire a guide:
The park is huge. Hiring the guide is the best way to see as much of it as possible while not getting lost.
Dress in layers:
The weather in La Amistad International Park changes quickly and drastically. Be ready for every type of weather from humid to rainy to freezing.
Wear excellent hiking shoes:
The terrain is rough, so pack your hiking boots with good grip and ankle support.
Stick to the marked paths:
La Amistad is meant for experienced hikers who will stick to the path.
There is an entrance fee which changes regularly so be prepared with $10-$20 (5000-10,000 colones).
Closest International Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
If you want to get to La Amistad from San Jose, you have to get on the Interamerican Highway towards San Isidro de Perez Zeledon. Then on to Vito de Coto Brus. From there follow directions to Cerro Punto. You will find the Entrance of La Amistad ranger station in the little town of Las Nubes. The roads into the park are not paved, so you will need a 4×4 vehicle. There are actually four entrances on the Pacific side: Estación Altimira, Estación Tres Colinas, Estación La Escuadra andEstación Pittier.