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La Cangreja
General information


It is located southwest from the canton of Puriscal, in San Jose, 45 km south from Santiago of Puriscal, 93 km from San Jose downtown.
Conservation Area:
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACPC)
2.240 hectares
Every day: from 8:00am to 4:00pm
When to go?

Dry season: December through March

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(506) 2416-6359
(506) 2416-6359
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
La Cangreja National Park is a small area that protects a great variety of migratory birds and also many plant species. This is the only place in the world where you can find the tree Aplinia puriscalensis, which is similar to the cocoa tree, and whose fruit resembles the “guayaba” (guava fruit).

La Cangreja keeps in its lands the last natural areas in the entire region of Puriscal that remain intact. This park is also the main source of the water supplies of some nearby communities (Mastatal, San Vicente, San Miguel and the native territory of Zapaton), and also helps to stabilize the local weather. Here you can find the rivers Negro and Quebrada Grande.

In this park you can find amazing waterfalls and it also has two life zones: very humid-pre-montane transitional forest and pre-montane pluvial forest.

Since 1988, a group of residents of Puriscal (currently the Fundacion Ecotropica) gathered together with the purpose of protecting the park in a more efficient way, along with the government and with the help of some volunteers.

The average annual rainfall is of 2.700 mm, and the average temperature ranges from 20°C to 24°C.
Rainy season: April through November
Dry season: December through March

La Cangreja National Park has a low montane forest, with around 1.000 species of plants, of which 44 are endemic. The most common ones are the cocobolo, the ron-ron, the purpleheart tree, the garlic tree, the pochote, the savannah oak, the botarrama, the coral tree, the mahogany, the bitter cedar, the cristobal, the rain tree, the wild cashew, the golden fruit, the cork tree, the blackwood (gliricidia tree) and the mastate.

There are amphibians like the green-black poisonous frog, the tree frog and many toads. You can also find reptiles like the river turtle, the biting turtle, the four-striped whiptail lizard, the basiliscus lizard and iguanas. There are also snakes like the boa constrictor, the fer-de-lance and fake and real coral snakes.

Among the mammals you can find common opossums, sloths, armadillos, kinkajous, coatis, raccoons, white-faced and squirrel monkeys, peccaries, common bats, pacas and felids.

There are 56 species of birds in the park, like the roadside hawk, the white-winged pigeon, the common kingfisher, the squirrel cuckoo, the turkey vulture, the sunbittern, the pale-vented pigeon, the yellow warbler, the blue-crowned manakin and the green parrot. You can also see toucans, hummingbirds, clay-colored thrushes, chalk-browed mockingbirds and mountain hens.

Services and facilities on the Park
Observatory for birdwatching
Camping area

Inside the Park:
Walking through the trails
Visiting Cerro La Cangreja (1.305 meters above sea level)
Observing migratory birds and endemic flora species
Swimming in the rivers Negro and Quebrada Grande
Visiting the Cataratas del Rey (“King’s Waterfalls”, in Quebrada Grande)

Outside the Park
Visiting the Zapaton Native Reserve
Taking the “Tobacco Tour”: observing the production process of tobacco plants

La Cangreja
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
Schedule: every day from 8:00am to 4:00pm
It is better if you can make your trip with your own vehicle instead of traveling by bus because the bus service has only one schedule for the park. In order for you to completely go over the park, you should stay for at least two nights.
During rainy season, you must make your trip in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Weather recommendations
Rainy season: April through November
Dry season: December through March

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable clothes and shoes.
Bing sunscreen, hat or cap and sunglasses.
Bring mosquito repellent.

Recommendations when walking through the trails
Please remain inside the marked trails.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Please do not litter; pick up the garbage and throw it away properly.
Please do not disturb the plants and animals that live in the park.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
Interesting sites
Trail: it is 9 km long and ideal for observing the primary forests.

Cerro La Cangreja: this is the highest part of La Cangreja National Park, and offers a wonderful scenery to the Pacific coastline and other nearby areas. The trail is 7 km long and has a very steep slope, perfect for adventure lovers and investigators.

Origin of the name
The park was named after the distinctive figure of Cerro La Cangreja, which has the shape of a crab when viewed from above, and the surrounding hills look like its legs.
There is also a native legend that tells the story about a huge crab that used to live in the hill, which prevented the villagers from visiting other communities. A warrior decided to fight the crab and then defeated him, and when the crab died it turned into stone.

Historical review
By the late XIX century, Puriscal was a territory of fertile soils, but due to the mismanagement of the grounds and other natural resources, its richness and fertility began to fade.

In 1984, the government of Costa Rica declared the virgin forest of La Cangreja as Protective Zone, with the purpose of guarding the water and land resources of the area, as well as preserving the environment.

In 1988, a group of residents from Puriscal gathered together to arrange an effective protection plan against the continuous forest loss the area was undergoing, situation that was taking place because of human activities. With the help of some volunteers (American citizens along with teachers and students from Costa Rican universities), many investigations were made in order to finally develop the protection plan.

By the year 1992, the government bought the first private property inside the park’s territory (562 hectares). At the same time, the foundation kept searching for donations from NGOs in the United States, which helped them buy other two properties, the first one of 100 hectares (in 1994) and then a second one of 70 hectares.

In June 5th, 2002, the government declared La Cangreja as National Park and extended its lands to 2.240 hectares, protecting the last natural areas in the entire region of Puriscal that remain intact. Nowadays, 76% of the territories of La Cangreja are private properties.

Fundacion Ecotropica (Ecotropica Foundation)
This foundation is a non-profit institution that was developed by professionals, technicians and residents of the Central Section. Their purpose was to create and strengthen the mechanisms that are required to achieve a rational and sustainable management of the natural resources.

It ensures the development and implementation of long-term plans by performing coordinating functions among the institutions, organizations and people that work in this field.

Fundacion Ecotropica Programs
For over 10 years the foundation has developed an awareness plan regarding the importance of protecting the resources that La Cangreja Forest offers to the nearby communities.

Environmental education: with all the community; its main subject is the management of natural resources.

Control and protection against forest fires: meetings with the Civil Society, volunteer training, purchase of required equipment and prevention of firewall rounds.
Trails: volunteer work for their construction through special agreements.
Biological corridor: some activities have already begun in order to help connect La Cangreja National Park with other Protected Wildlife Areas and Native Reserves.

Preparation of management plan: intended to lead priority actions in the most efficient way, in the places that have these requirements.

La Cangreja
como llegar?
How to get there?
Transportes Delio Morales (San Jose, Coca Cola Terminal)
From San Jose to Quepos, passing through La Cangreja:
Every day: 5:20am and 11:50am
From Quepos to San Jose, passing through La Cangreja:
Every day: 4:00am and 1:00pm
Office phone number: (506) 2223-5567

From San Jose, take the route #27 in direction towards Puriscal, heading south, passing by the Hospital Cima. Keep going straight (do not take any exits) and you will get to the route #239, which will take you to Villa Colon, passing through the towns of Guayabo and San Antonio, until you arrive to Santiago of Puriscal. Keep going towards Mercedes Sur, Santa Marta and Jilgueral, and when you get to Alto Palma, take the exit for Salitrales. You will then pass through Zapotal and San Martin, finally reaching Santa Rosa, where you should turn left for Mastatal. The park is located close to the town of Mastatal; there are signs that will guide you to the entrance.


You can make your trip in any type of vehicle during dry season, but in rainy season you must use a 4-wheel drive.

Other kind of transportation


La Cangreja
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