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Braulio Carrillo National Park
(Zurquí sector): Consisting of 44,099 hectares of
virgin rain forest, this is one of Costa Rica's largest
national parks. Although the park extends into portions
of four different provinces, most visitors enter via
the highway from San Jose. Only 30 minutes away from
downtown, entering the park is like entering another
world -- one of endless verdure and dripping with
the frequent mists and rains that bathe the upper
reaches of the mountain pass that the road winds through.
As you continue following the highway through the
park you will descend from an elevation of more than
1500 meters to less than 500 meters above sea level
on the Caribbean side of the Barva Volcano massif.
Although perhaps not immediately apparent to the average
visitor, there is a nearly complete change of flora
and fauna between the two ends of this 1000 meter
elevational transect. Trails at both the upper and
lower ranger stations allow access to the rain forest,
however, be careful as they have some steep and slippery
sections. Also, caution should be used if stopping
anywhere along the highway other than at the ranger
stations as, unfortunately, there have been numerous
cases during the past few years of tourists being
robbed at gunpoint while attempting to use trails
where there is no park service vigilance.
When crossing the Río Sucio bridge, be sure to look
upstream (on your right if traveling from San José
towards Limón). Here the Río Sucio (literally "Dirty
River") joins the Río Hondura which comes in from
the right. Unless it has been raining very heavily,
the difference between these two streams is striking
-- the Hondura is a clear mountain stream, while the
Sucio can vary from grayish to reddish-orange due
to its origins on the ash-covered upper slopes of
Among the more than 400 species of birds known from
Braulio Carrillo National Park, a few of the more
sought after species by inveterate birdwatchers are:
Bare-necked Umbrellabird, Snowcap, Sharpbill, Brown-billed
Scythebill, Black-crowned Antpitta, Yellow-eared Toucanet,
and Latticed-tailed Trogon. Tanagers and hummingbirds,
in particular, abound in the lower and middle elevations
of the park. The mammals are similarly diverse, but
usually not easily seen. Several of the relatively
more common species are: Deppe's Squirrel, White-nosed
Coati, White-throated Capuchin, and Northern Tamandua.
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