Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park is a National Park in Heredia Province and San José Province, in central Costa Rica It is part of the Central Volcanic Conservation Area.
The park is located on the volcanic Cordillera Central (Central mountain range) between San José city and Puerto Limón on the Caribbean.
It is accessible from the Limon Highway, which bisects the park (northwest to southeast), and from Barva canton on the north.
The park is separated into three main sectors — Zurquí, Quebrada Gonzales, and Barva.
Established in 1978, the park was formed as an agreement with environmental lobbyists to limit and prevent development of the area after the construction of the Limon Highway, a major road linking the capital to Caribbean cargo port of Puerto Limón. The park was named in honor of former Costa Rican president Braulio Carrillo, whose administration had helped foster the nation's early agricultural economy and had built the first road linking San José to the Caribbean coast.
The park contains many notable geological features, such as the Barva Volcano; and several dormant volcanoes including Cerro Chompipe, Cerro Cacho Negro, and Cerros las Tres Marias. The Barva sector has three crater lakes — Barva, Danta, and Copey.
The park also protects areas of the Sarapiquí River watershed, including large amounts of primary cloud and rainforest, and the flora and fauna that makes it their home. Others in the park include the Hondura River, Patria River, and the mineral-colored Súcio River.
Both large size (108,970 acres) of Braulio Carrillo National Park, and its varied altitude of 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) between highest and lowest points, make it home to several distinct ecoregion zones. Ranging from high-altitude cloud forests to lowlands tropical rainforest, it has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica. More than 90% of the park is covered in primary forest. providing a unique snapshot of ancient ecological conditions.
The park contains landscapes representing the Talamancan montane forests ecoregion at high elevations and the Isthmian-Atlantic moist forests ecoregion at low elevations. It is significant for its biodiversity with 600 identified species of trees, over 530 species of birds, and 135 species of mammals already catalogued.
Examples of birds found include the solitary eagle, the bare-necked umbrellabird, as well as several species of hummingbirds. The area near Barva is home to the bushmaster.
Unlike the more popular Costa Rican parks, such as Poás Volcano National Park and Manuel Antonio National Park, Braulio Carrillo National Park is relatively unmaintained and untravelled. Three main ranger stations serve the park. Two of them, Quebrada Gonzales and Barva, provide sanitary facilities and drinking water for visitors.
There are several available hiking trails in Braulio Carrillo National Park, which are can be narrow and are not regularly monitored by park rangers. The trail from Puesto Barva to the La Selva Protected Zone in the park's north is a difficult and long route. It can take over 4 days to traverse the entire length.
Other shorter trails include Los Botarramas and El Ciebo, both between 1–2 kilometres (0.62–1.24 mi) long. They have steep sections with panoramic views.