Best National Parks in the Central Valley, Costa Rica


Poas Volcano National Park

Poas Volcano National Park Poas Volcano National Park is considered as one of the most expanded parks of the country. If you have a journey in this park, you will get the opportunity to know about the the geomorphic processes and also about the history of the volcano. If you feel tired and get hungry, you can take some rest in restroom and take some snack. You can also visit a museum there and get more information about the area. People who have to use wheelchair, they can also visit park.

From the visitor’s center, if you walk for 15 minutes you will reach main crater where you will enjoy an amazing view. The crater and adjacent Laguna Botos (blue-green colored Botos lake) is a great destination close to San Jose. You will enjoy hiking along the Botos Trail after arriving at Botos Lake, a beautiful crater with a diameter of 1,312 ft (400 m) that has a beautiful jade color and is frequented by many of the bird species in the park. The weather is a big factor on deciding when you should go. If it is cloudy then you will not see the crater, Mt. Arenal or the valley. The walk through the cloud forest is a good one through. The drive up is fairly well indicated with signs and there you will get the opportunity to buy souvenirs and fresh strawberries. From the crater you can see surrounding landscape has been effected by acid rain. The parking lot is secure with several guards patrolling to prevent thieves from robbing your car. As the crater descends almost 1,000 ft (300 m) and is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, there are chances of getting wet are pretty remote. Poas Volcano National Park is rich in biodiversity and it includes lush plantations different species of birds and a few large mammals and other less visible and smaller wild animals.

From San Jose, it takes only 1 and half hours to reach the park. You will have to make a round-trip for 108 km and during the journey you will pass along never-ending fields of flowers and coffee farms. This park is only 116 km far from Ciudad Quesada. If you want to visit the park, it will be better to go at the morning during the month from January to April and if you want to enjoy the spectacular view of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, you should avoid wet day.

Guayabo National Monument

Guayabo National Monument The Guayabo National Monument includes water tanks, ancient trails, bridges and homesites, and also almost 3.000 years old petroglyphs. It is considered as the most important archaeological site of Costa Rica. Nestled in the heart of the rain forests and cloud forests of Costa Rica, Guayabo is an ancient of the Pre-Columbian era. While walking around the Guayabo area, you will see raised stone foundations. There are also stone paved roads leading to the surrounding dense foliage.

Construction of the city of Guayabo was made in such a way that the rain waters still can flow through these area, and paved roads can be seen still. The ranger station remains open from 8:00am to 4:00pm and you will get the facilities to enjoy bathing, camping and hiking trails.

Archaeology finds many complex petroglyphs which are coated with perplexing information with jade and gold artifacts, practical and decorative pottery and also as controversial stone spheres of Costa Rica. In the monument there is an archaeological research station, an exhibition room, a view point from which the whole archaeological area can be seen.

Irazú Volcano National Park

Irazú Volcano National Park Irazú Volcano National Park is centered around the largest volcano in the country, which has a surprising moon-like landscape. The park terrain grows on 2,300 ha area and includes primary and secondary cloud forest. If you appreciate geology at all, it is a must-see. There are several principal craters at Irazu, as well as a desert-like area where vegetation is just now starting to take hold, after the last eruption in the early 1960s.

The Irazu volcano is about 90-minute drive from San Jose. From San Jose, head east 14 miles (23 km) to the nation’s former capital, Cartago and from there it is 24 miles (39 km) to Irazu Volcano National Park.

The summit (which is  about 3,432 meter, and higher than the famous Chinese Buddhist Mountain Ermei), of Volcán Irazú, is close to the tree-line, and the volcanic activity and wind intrigue to make a moonscape effect. There you will find some craters rimmed by gnarled, rain fed mineral pools and scorched trees. You will find a small visitors center and displays from where you can know about the volcanic information. Due to constant volcanic activity, it is tough to watch wildlife but within the park area, you will spot many small wild animals.

The facilities of this park include picnic tables and bathrooms. There is a place to get warm drinks and food. Although cool temperatures and high winds are common year round, during the month of March and April is the best time to visit. From 8 am to 3 pm, the park remains open everyday a week and for better exploration, it is better to visit early in the morning. You will have to pay $7 as entrance fee.

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