SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK
Distance from San José: about 250 km (156 miles) / about 4.5 hours
Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Date of foundation: March 27, 1971
Size: 38. 674 hectares
The Santa Rosa national park protects large areas of dry tropical forest which used to cover the entire Guanacaste region. The forest is home to numerous wild animals such as mammals like jaguars, cougars, tapirs, deer and peccaries. Also birds, turkeys, toucans, ospreys and others can be found. Also reptiles live here, like hawksbill turtles, leatherback turtles, green turtles and Ridley sea turtles.
The park forms part of the biological corridor together with the Guanacaste and Rincón de la Vieja National Parks.
In the Sta. Rosa national park, visitors find the La Casona memorial, which was the venue of two historically important battles that were fought for the independence of Costa Rica in 1856 and 1955.
On the 20th of March 1856, the “Battle of Santa Rosa” was fought and won by Costa Rican forces against the filibuster William Walker who intended to annect the Central American nations as a part of the US Southern states as a source of working slaves. In 1955 a second battle took place at “La Casona” when troops put together by the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza tried to invade Costa Rica and were also fought back. “La Casona”, the farmhouse of the hacienda Sta. Rosa, was burned down by a poacher in 2004 but is now rebuild and serves as a museum.
There are several trails offered:
- “Nature Trail” or “Sendero Natural”, a short loop of about 1 km
- Beach trails to Playa Naranjo and Playa Nancite, about 22 km. Both beaches are important nesting places for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.
- “Laguna Escondida” and “Cuajiniquil River” Trail. A 14 kilometers round trip leads to a freshwater pond where, especially in the dry season, plenty of wildlife can be observed.
Santa Rosa is located 38 kilometers (24 miles) north of Liberia.
During the months of July until December, the Nancite beach together with the protection area Ostional is one of the most important egg deposition spots for the Ridley sea turtle.
GUANACASTE NATIONAL PARK
Distance from San José: 280 km (175 miles) / about 3 hours
Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Date of foundation: June 5, 1991
Size: 38.000 hectares
The Guanacaste National Park has hardly been discovered by tourism yet. The drive to the different sectors to large extent is only possible with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, especially during rainy season. The ranger stations are rather equipped for research and biological field work than for tourism. Some stations offer basic accommodations with dorm rooms for visitors.
This sector protects the springs of important rivers of the Continental Shed. The Biological Station Maritza works in research in water biology and entomology, led by the Stroud Water Research Center. However, this region is also interesting for archeologist: all around the area hundreds of rock paintings (petrogylphs) can be found.
Infrastructure: The station offers dorm rooms for up to 32 persons with shared bathrooms. Electricity is available. A hiking trail of 12 km (7.5 miles) leads to the Cacao Sector of the national park.
Arrival: Via the Interamericana #1 via Liberia, in direction to the border Peñas Blancas. North of the village of Potrerillos, few kilometers before arriving in the village of Colonia Bolaños, turn right and follow the signs towards the entrance of the park.
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The steep area around the extinct Cacao volcano is a transition zone between tropical dry forest to cloud and rain forest. There are several hiking trails crossing the forest areas and up to the top of the volcano. A viewpoint offers panoramic views over the Nicaragua Lake, the lowlands of Santa Rosa and the Pacific coast.
Arrival: Via the Interamericana #1 via Liberia, in direction to the border Peñas Blancas. After about 20 km (12.5 miles) at the village of Potrerillos, turn right to Quebrada Grande (about 10 km/6.25 miles), keep left and follow the signs towards the park.
Infrastructure: The station offers dorm rooms for up to 32 people with shared bathrooms.
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Visitors can use two hiking trails: “Cerro Cacao” leads for 2 km (1.25 miles) through a very steep are to the peak of the 1664 m (5460 feet) high extinct volcano. Only recommended for experienced hikers. Duration: about 3 hours. “Cacao-Maritza” is the connection between both sectors of the national park and leads on 12 km (7.5 miles) of hiking trails through forest areas. Several rivers and steep slopes have to be crossed. Duration: about 4 hours.
Wide areas with mainly uninvestigated rainforest with a high biodiversity.
Arrival: Via the Interamericana #3 via Liberia, in direction to the border Peñas Blancas. Just before the village of La Cruz turn right on the street #4 to Sta. Cecilia (about 33 km /21 miles). Keep right and follow the signs towards the park.
Infrastructure: Two dorm rooms with a total of 20 beds, 3 shared bathrooms, laboratory and class rooms, no electricity!
Opening hours: Daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00p.m.
There is a well maintained (mountain) trail to the Fila Orosilito. It leads through dense tropical forest and offers view points. Duration of about 6 hours, highest point at 1120 m (3675 feet).