Carara is one of Costa Rica’s most popular National Parks, uniquely situated near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It is 9.3 miles (15 km) north of Jaco and about an hour from San Jose. This park is a common destination for field trips by school children. Many cruise ship’s passengers also bused for a day trip in this park when the liners dock just up the coast at Puerto Caldera. The 13,000-acre park encompasses a transitional forest of both dry and tropical Rainforest.
Way to the Park:
It takes only an hour and a half from San Jose or the Juan Santamaria International Airport to reach the Carara National Park. From San Jose you will have to follow the route 27 for 35 miles toward Orotina.Three miles past Orotina, turn right on Route 34, the coastal highway toward Jaco. And then continue for more 11 miles over the Tarcoles River bridge. Then after going half a mile farther south, on your left you will find the park entrance.
First attraction of Carara park is its wildlife. Wildlife enthusiasts will relish spotting sloths, anteaters, agouti, white-faced monkeys, vine snakes, boas, kinkajous, margay cats, collared peccaries and white-tailed deer. Bird watchers will like this place as this place is home to 400 species of birds including toucans, roseate spoonbills, jacanas, herons, manakins, trogons and about 150 scarlet macaws nest and feed throughout the reserve. Early morning, or around sunset is often the best time to see the wealth of birds living in the park, especially scarlet macaws. Another attraction of the park is that it is open than the Rainforests further south which makes its wildlife spotting easier. While walking along the three trails of the park, you might be able to find Guanacaste trees with umbrella shape and considered as the national tree of Costa Rica.
Carara forests always remains hot and humid. From late December through April, during the drier season when the there is significantly less rain, transpiration keeps the humidity under the canopy near saturation. From August to October is the wettest months and in this period the the trails near the river may be impassable because of flooding.
You can take advice and current information on much of the wildlife from the Quebrada Bonita Ranger Station. From Tarcoles river, this station is located just 34 minutes south along highway.
You can explore the beauty of the Rainforest while hiking, you can enjoy bird watching, or can go for crocodile tours along the Tarcoles River and into the Pacific Ocean, That is an stunning place to watch the American crocodile from a close distance. You will need to hire naturalist guides for a two-hour hike through the park for the best chance to see wildlife or you can venture in on your own for a more intimate experience.