Carara National Park. From Hacienda to Refugio to National Park accessible to all.

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It was once a private Hacienda, one of the largest tracts of land in the country. Its name in Huetar means Rio de Largartos, it has a unique forest and an enviable variety of birds. Today we talk about Carara Carara National Park

About Carara National Park.

Carara National Park is located within the cantons of Turrubares and Garabito, in the provinces of San José and Puntarenas, between the coordinates 9º51′ and 9º44′ North latitude, 84º36′ and 84º29′ East longitude, i.e. 90 kilometres from San José on the Costanera Sur highway.

The main entrance is located 2 kilometres south of the Río Grande de Tárcoles bridge. Carara Carara National Park, which in the Huetar indigenous language means “River of lizards”, has the only transitional forest in the Central Pacific, which translates into a diversity of flora and fauna, where species typical of dry and humid forests converge.

Entrada Principal Parque Nacional Carara Carara

This National Park is a world-renowned ornithological destination as it has a very diverse avifauna, where the Red Macaw (Ara macao) stands out, a species that is in danger of extinction, being the second largest species of Psittacidae in Costa Rica.

It is undoubtedly one of the main sites in the country for birdwatching, which is why it will be included in the next guidebook produced by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute on this segment of tourism at the national level.

Due to its location and ease of access on Route 34, this park is also ideal for a day visit, being easily accessible from the capital, either in your own vehicle, rented or by public transport.

It is the first national park to have a universally accessible trail, where visitors can experience the experience of being inside the forest, meet endemic species such as the Cafecillo (Erythrochiton gymnanthus), large trees and see the relationship between some of the species.


Originally what is now Carara National Park was Gran Hacienda Coyolar, one of the largest concentrations of privately owned land in Costa Rica. It was initially established as Carara Biological Reserve on 26 April 1978 by Executive Decree № 8491-A, and later changed its management category to National Park on 18 November 1998 by Executive Decree № 27411-MINAE.

Opening hours and prices

Opening hours:
• From May to November, daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
• From December to April, daily from 7 am to 4 pm.
Rates: Nationals or Residents
• Adults ¢1.000
• Children from 6 to 12 years old ¢500
You must present your identity card at the time of entry to the park.
Adults over 65 years of age, presenting an identity card, do not pay an entrance ticket.  
Foreigners, non-residents
• Adults $10
• Children $5  
Credit card payments are accepted.

How to get there?

From San José, take route 27 towards Caldera. After the last toll in Pozón, take the exit towards Tárcoles – Jacó (route 34). Continue for about 14 km. The Park is located 2 km from the Rio Tárcoles bridge on the road to Jacó.

What can we do?

• Universal Access Path:

It is a 1.2 km long route with nine rest bays; drinking water system along the entire route; sanitary facilities adapted according to the requirements of the law 7.600; signage in Spanish, English and Braille; maps with this system for the blind; sculptures; hearing system; QR code application, and most of the route has Wii-fi, among other facilities.

Sendero Universa con experiencia táctil para no videntes

• Las Aráceas Trail:

This circular path is approximately 1200 metres long and can be covered in about an hour. It is named after an important family of plants, the Araceae. On this trail you can observe plants that grow in the trees, one of these is known as Tiger’s Hand (Monstera deliciosa) which is easy to distinguish by its large, lobed leaves with small holes that allow sunlight to pass through to other leaves and allow the plant to make efficient use of the limited sunlight it receives in the forest. Their long roots go down to the ground where they absorb the nutrients necessary for life. Other examples of this family are the genera Anthurium and Philoderdron.

•  Laguna Meándrica Trail:

It is a linear trail a little over 2000 metres long and takes between two and four hours. Its name is related to the meander formed in the river Tárcoles with a lagoon that is formed in that sector of approximately 600 metres long and 40 metres wide. Crocodiles (Crocodilus acutus) can be observed in the river and on the trail the coffee tree (Erythrochiton gymnanthus) stands out. This trail is usually used by ornithologists to observe large numbers of birds, mainly in the mornings.

Sendero Universal Accesible para personas discapacitadas

•  Quebrada Bonita Trail:

It is a circular trail, with a length of 1300 metres, it can be covered in approximately an hour and a half. Its main attraction is the Quebrada Bonita, hence the name of this trail, where you can appreciate large and tall trees, climbing species, among others.

• Encuentro de Ecosistemas Trail:

It is a 650-metre linear trail that connects the Quebrada Bonita trail and the Universal Access Trail. Among its attractions are bird watching and interpretation of the forest and its surroundings.

• Flora and fauna: Among the most characteristic species of fauna are the congo monkey, the three-toed sloth, the tepezcuintle, the armadillo, the pizote, the raccoon and the red macaw, emblem of this area.  

According to scientific data, it has the following flora and fauna records:

480 species of plants, including trees and shrubs, with 14 endemic species and 29 species considered rare and endemic.
124 reptile species, or 53% of the reptile species in Costa Rica (234).
112 species of mammals, representing 47.8% of the total of these species in the country (237).
62 amphibian species, or 32.8% of the 189 amphibian species in Costa Rica.
420 bird species, 47% of the 893 species reported in the country, considered one of the most important sites in CR for bird watching in their natural state.

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