Carara National Park
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC), Costa Rica
Carara National Park is located in Costa Rica's Central Pacific Conservation Area or ACOPAC (Area de Conservacion Pacifico Central), with an area of 5,242 hectares. This protected wildlife area is considered to be a living laboratory where you can study the structure and functioning of the tropical eco-systems and the relationships between them.
What is today known as the Carara National Park was part of a huge landholding called Hacienda Coyolar (one of the largest privately held tracts of land ever in the country), which extended from Orotina and ended in Parrita. It had thousands of hectares and belonged to Dr. Fernando Castro Cervantes. Dr. Castro years later sold the land to the IDA (Agrarian Development Institute) and later the IDA transferred to the land to the National Park Service (SPN in Spanish). On April 27, 1978, the land was categorized as a biological reserve. Due to the need and influx of numerous visitors in 1990, however, the management category was changed to National Park in November 1998.
Carara was created on April 27, 1978, as a biological reserve management area, arising as the response to the domestic and regional natural resource conservation needs. Carara National Park is located 90 kilometers from the capital, following the southern coastal highway along the Grande de Tárcoles River and the travel time from San José is approximately 2.5 hours. It is currently considered to be a biological island because of the dense agriculture and livestock operations that go back to the Pre-Columbus era.
Therefore, Carara is a park that is very different from the others since it is between the dry forest and rainforest, the last remainder of transitional forest in the country. This protected wildlife area is considered to be a living laboratory where you can study the structure and functioning of the tropical eco-systems and the relationships between them.
Flora and Fauna
Because this is a transition forest in the protected wildlife area, you can see dry and rainforest species such as the following:
- Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum)
- Guarumo (Cecropia sp)
- Cornizuelo (Acacia costarricense)
- Espavel (Anacardium excelsum)
- Ojoche (Brosimu costaricanum)
- Cristóbal (Platymiscium pinnatum)
- Ajillo (Cariocar costarricense)
You can see a species that is endemic to the Central Pacific (the only one in the world), such as “arbusto de cafecillo” (Erytrochiton gymantum), which can easily be spotted during trips through the public use areas, specifically in the Carara National Park intensive use area.
Since its habitat is so special, you can see mammal species such as the following:
- Caballo (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)
- Tepezcuintle (Agouti paca)
- Saíno (Tayassu pecari) or “chancho de monte”
- Pizote (Nasua narica) or the white-nosed coati
There are also some notable felines such as the puma and the manigordo (Felis pardis). In addition, it possesses a large variety of reptiles and amphibians including the Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper) and the Crocodile (Cocodrilus acutus).
You can also find a worldwide ornithological destination that has more than 360 different species of birds. They include the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), which is in danger of extinction. The population is the second largest species of Psitacidos in Costa Rica (scarlet macaw) with approximately 330 individuals that are monitored and counted since 5 years ago.
- Above: Geonoma congesta (source), photo by Scott Zona, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
- Below left: Black-throated trogon (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
- Below center: Boat billed heron (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
- Below right: Green and black poison arrow frog (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported