Guanacaste National Park
Size: 700 square kilometers
Distance from San Jose: 280 kilometers
Dry Season: January through March
Camping: Not permitted.
Guanacaste National Park was created in 1989 to protect the volcano slope evergreen forest and cloud forests of Orosi and Cacao volcanoes, and to increase the restored dry tropical forest and other lowland forest habitats. This area provides emigrational corridors for animals that move into the highlands during the dry season. Many species of birds, butterflies, and moths have been found to migrate from the Guanacaste lowlands over the cordillera and into the moist rain forest of the Atlantic side.
The park contains an interesting if undeveloped trail system and four research stations, at least one of which will remain open to nature tourists, hikers, and photographers. The verdant forests that swathe the volcanoes are a pleasant contrast to the ecological monotony of the human-created grasslands that surround them. This park is as yet little visited, but it is well worth the trouble of getting to it.
At just over 32,000 hectares, this park contains Orosi and Cacao volcanoes, which are its main attractions. It is divided into three sectors: Maritza, Pitilla and Cacao.
The Maritza sector is located on the slopes of Orosi volcano, at 650 meters above sea level. It shelters a dry to wet forest that gives birth to rivers and streams, a variety of birds and a large population of collared peccaries. Available services include drinking water, outhouses, trails and general information. Located one kilometer south of La Cruz, the Pitilla sector’s main feature is its wet forest. Birds and other animals can be seen on the trails, as well as a spectacular view of Lake Nicaragua.
The Cacao sector is located on the slopes of the volcano of the same name, at some 1,100 meters above sea level. Trails connect dry forest to wet and cloud forests. With the proper permit, visitors may climb to the top of the volcano.