Braulio Carrillo National Park is crossed by the Braulio Carrillo Highway, also commonly referred to as Route 32. Every Costa Rican has travelled along this asphalt serpent delighting in the breathtaking views of endless greenery, trees staining the colour of chlorophyll, towering wild mountains, full of life.
Who hasn’t marvelled at the sound of frogs singing, or been cautious when sudden torrential downpours turn Route 32, crossed by makeshift waterfalls, into a real river? And who hasn’t tried to hold their breath for the entire length of the famous Zurquí Bridge? That’s right, today we are going to talk about the gigantic Braulio Carrillo National Park.
About Braulio Carrillo.
Located in the north of the Central Valley, on the Cordillera Volcanica Central, between the massifs of the Poas and Irazu volcanoes. This wonderful natural treasure includes the Barva and Cacho Negro volcanoes, extending from Alto de la Palma in the north of the canton of Moravia, to the La Selva Protected Zone in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui.
It has a maximum elevation of 2906 m a.s.l. at the summit of the Barva Volcano and records a minimum temperature of 3 ºC and a maximum of 24 ºC. Due to the large altitudinal gradient within the Park, rainfall varies widely, ranging from 2500 mm on the slopes overlooking the Central Valley to 5734 mm on the Caribbean slope.
Braulio Carrillo National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Costa Rica with 50 000 hectares and is located in one of the most rugged topographical areas of the country. The landscape is made up of high mountains densely covered with forests and a large number of canyons through which rivers and streams of great importance for the production of hydroelectric energy flow.
Braulio Carrillo National Park has two sectors for public use: Quebrada González and Volcán Barva, where visitor facilities are provided. The Ceibo Sector is dedicated to protection and research.
It belongs to the Central Volcanic Cordillera formation, which originated a million years ago and has numerous volcanic cones.
It is located within two volcanic formations, the Barva volcano and the Irazú volcano, separated by the Patria river. Its topography is abrupt, made up of high mountains covered by dense forests, with a large number of rivers and streams. Together with its high rainfall, the topography causes the rivers to have numerous waterfalls. It has a very varied relief.
Within the park are the Barva volcano, the Cacho Negro hill and the Zurquí hill, among others. The altitude ranges from 35 metres above sea level at the La Selva Biological Station, in the canton of Sarapiqui, to 2906 metres above sea level at the Barva volcano. The large number of rivers, hills and slopes give rise to large canyons.
This national park is named after Braulio Carrillo in honour of the third head of state who ruled Costa Rica between 1837 and 1842.
In 1977, the construction of the current San José – Guápiles road began and a year later, in order to avoid the irrational destruction of the forest, the Braulio Carrillo National Park was created, according to Executive Decree No. 8357 of 15 April 1978, ratified by the Law of the Republic No. 6280 of 14 November 1978.
Subsequently, through Executive Decrees No. 17003-MAG (1986), 20358 MIRENEM (1991) and 22620 MIRENEM (1995), the National Park was expanded to a total of 47 586 hectares. Recently, in 2015, through Executive Decree No. 39259-MINAE, published in La Gaceta No. 237 of 7 December, the sector established in Decree Law No. 65 of 1888 was added to the national park, increasing its extension to 50,000 hectares.
Hourly Rates and Revenues
Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including holidays.
- ¢1000 National visitors and residents over 13 years old.
- ¢500 National and resident children (age 2-12 years).
- $12 Non-residents over 13 years old.
- $5 Non-resident children (ages 2 to 12).
- ¢500 National visitors and residents of primary and secondary education, on educational tours organised by the educational centres and which have been previously coordinated with the Administration of the protected wilderness area.
- Higher education students must pay the established fee for national or non-resident visitors, over 13 years of age.
- Admission is free for children under 2 years of age, nationals and residents over 65 years of age.
- $2 Right to camp (only in the Barva Volcano Sector)
How to get there?
Quebrada González Sector
By car: Leaving San José, take Route 32 for 22 kilometres. The post is located next to the Quebrada of the same name.
By bus: from San José, Caribeños bus terminal, Ave. 15, 800 north of Parque Central, Barrio Tournón.
Barva Volcano Sector
By car: take the road to Heredia, Barva, San José de la Montaña, Paso Llano, Sacramento. Preferably travel in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
By bus: Monday to Saturday, from Heredia Central Market at 6:25 and 11:45 am; 3:55 pm. Return: 7:30 am, 1:00 and 5:00 pm.
Sundays: 6:30 and 11:00 am; 4:00 pm. Return: 7:30 am, 12:30 and 5:00 pm. Holidays: 6:45 and 11:00 am; 4:00 pm. Return: 8:30 am, 5:00 pm.
You have to walk 8 km from where the bus arrives to the entrance gate to the Sector.
What can be done and what can we see?
On the San José – Guápiles road you will be able to observe the scenic beauties of the National Park, where we recommend a visit to the Quebrada González Post, which has three trails through the tropical rainforest.
These trails have interpretative stations and panoramic viewpoints: Las Palmas with a distance of 1.5 km; El Ceibo with a distance of 1 km and the Botarrama with a distance of 2.5 km; you can also enjoy the viewpoint to the Sucio river.
This sector of the park has drinking water, toilets, lunch areas, information on site and parking. In the Barva Volcano Sector you will find four trails: Cacho Venado, Laguna Barva, Copey and Mirador Vara Blanca, with a total distance of 10 km and where you will enjoy the different types of forest that the site offers to visitors.
Water, toilets, lunch tables and a camping area are available on site.
In general, Braulio Carrillo National Park has an evergreen forest vegetation of great density and floristic complexity. Most of the park is covered by primary forest, in which there are some 6000 species of plants, representing half of the total number of species recorded in the whole country.
Mahogany (Caryocar costaricensis), mahogany (Swietenia microphylla), oak (Quercus costaricensis), mahogany (Guarea rhopalacarpa) and hawk (Pentaclethra macroloba) are relatively abundant. The botarrama (Vochysia ferruginea), ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), yos (Sapium pittieri), lorito (Weinmannia pinnata) and ojoche (Brosimun costaricanum) are also found. In the Barva Volcano area, the flora includes species such as cypress (Escallonia poasana), candelillo (magnolia poasana) and white oak (Quercus sp.).
The park has a great diversity of fauna, with a rich avifauna represented by 515 species of resident and migratory birds. The king of vultures (Sarcoramphus papa), bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata), goldfinch (Myadestes melanops) and quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) stand out.
Mammal species include the white-faced (Cebus capuchinus), red (Ateles geoffroyi) and howler (Alouatta palliata) monkeys; tapir (Tapirus bairdii), puma (Puma concolor), jaguar (Panthera onca), peccary (Tayassu pecari), peccary bear (Tamandua tetradactyla), mountain goat (Mazama temama) and coyote (Canis latrans).