Suscribe Newsletter / Suscribase Boletin Facebook twitter YOUTUBE Idiomas: Languajes:
Costa Rica Explorer Guide
Costa Rica's best
online magazine
Costa Rica Articles News Cultural Agenda About us Rent a Car Advertising & Services Red Cultura Main
  • General information
  • Recomendations
  • How to get there?
  • Nearest hotels
  • Make your comments
General information


The Guayabo National Monument is located in the province of Cartago, in the southern section of the base of the Turrialba Volcano, 19 km north from the city of Turrialba and 86 km from San Jose.
Conservation Area:
Central Volcanic Mountain Range Conservation Area (ACCVC)
232 hectares
8:00am to 4:00pm
When to go?

Dry season: December to April

Conatct information
Regional Office:
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
Guayabo is the largest and most important archaeological site in Costa Rica. It protects archaeological structures influenced by pre-Columbian groups of North and South America. They’re evidence of the development of a native population before they disappeared in 1400 A.D.

This monument is part of the Central Mountain and Atlantic Slope cultural regions. It reflects the great development in civil engineering, architecture and town planning of one of the oldest native civilizations of Costa Rica.

There are archaeological structures such as mounds, staircases, roads, open and closed aqueducts, water tanks, tombs, petroglyphs, monoliths and sculptures.

Only a small area has been dug in the 20 hectares of the archaeological area, and several pieces have been transferred to the National Museum for their preservation. The petroglyphs or carved stones are the most common ones because they’re widespread around the archaeological area. These pieces represent symbols that haven’t been deciphered yet.

Thanks to these discoveries, the archaeologists consider that this pre-Columbian city had experts in different fields with important positions. Guayabo had a very important political and religious position.

This zone was occupied in 500 B.C., but the largest development of the chiefdom and the construction of the stone spheres was between 800 – 1700 A.D. From 1.500 to 2.000 people are believed to have lived here.

They were influenced from North and South America due to the position and geographic formation of Costa Rica, a meeting point among different pre-Columbian cultures.

There hasn’t been found evidence about the causes that led to the abandonment of the city and the disappearing of its inhabitants in times prior to the colonization period. There are only theories related to diseases and wars.

The main objective of this National Monument is to protect its archaeological richness and offer opportunities for educational, recreational and scientific activities. Digging works are still being performed and the damaged structures have been restored.

The populations of the surroundings are mainly dedicated to coffee and sugar cane production, dairy farming, cheese production and the cultivation of other agricultural products.

The average annual rainfall is 3.500 mm with and average temperature of 18°C.
This is a high-humidity region without a well-defined dry season.

It has high evergreen forest spots (in the canyon of the Guayabo river) with species like the tirra, the cerillo, the magnolia, the caragra, the cantarillo, the quizarra, the cirri, the burio, the shortleaf fig and oak trees. There are many epiphyte plants like bromeliads and orchids.

There’s also secondary open vegetation due to logging periods some time ago. Most of the flora species come from transplanting processes.

You can see different types of birds like toucans, Montezuma oropendolas, trogons, woodpeckers, motmots, piapias, clay-colored thrushes and chachalacas.

There are mammals like coatis, common opossums, margays, armadillos, rabbits, coyotes, sloths, kinkajous and squirrels. You can also see snakes, frogs, lizards and butterflies.

Services and facilities on the Park
Lunch area
Information office
Panoramic views and viewpoints
Bus service
Camping area
Archaeological investigation stations
Exhibit room

Inside the Park:
Guided tours through the trails
Visiting the Guayabo butterfly farm (private service)
Knowing and learning about pre-Columbian civilizations

Outside the Park
Hotels, restaurants and markets in Turrialba
Visiting the Turrialba Volcano National Park

  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations
Schedule: from 8:00am to 4:00pm

General recommendations inside the park
In case you need any help, go to the park rangers, they will be more than glad to assist you.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable clothes and shoes, ideal for walking.
Bring poncho, umbrella and camera.
Bring sunglasses, sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Stay recommendations
You can camp but there are no facilities.

Recommendations when walking through the trails
Please remain inside the marked trails at all times or in the public use areas.
It is better if you can make your tour with a specialized guide since he can explain the history of the place.

Food recommendations
Do not eat or drink in areas where it’s not allowed.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
Please do not litter; use the respective containers.
Respect the animals and the surrounding vegetation.
The use of stereos, speakers or radios is not allowed since they can disturb the peace and calmness of the park and its animals.
Do not drink alcoholic beverages or enter the park under its effects.

Recommendations with the animals
Even though there’s a large variety of animals, some may be hard to find because of different reasons, like the fact that they're night creatures, their reproductive or migratory behavior and the forest's density.

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:
About 4 hectares have been excavated where 50 different structures were found, such as:

1. The pavements: they served as roads for the native residents and were part of the drainage system. They go in different directions throughout several kilometers.

2. The steps or inclined planes: they helped out with the gaps of the territory.

3. Retaining walls

4. Bridges

5. Stone mounds: they were meant for housing support. Their bases were circular and went from 50 cm to 4.5 m tall, with diameters between 10 and 30 m.

6. Tombs built with slabs (large, smooth and flat stones) and boulders (round-shaped smooth stones). They were found in different sectors and are known as case graves. These tombs were plundered in the past.

7. Open and closed aqueducts that led the water to the water tanks, which still work nowadays.

8. Water tanks: rectangle-shaped stone structures. Water was very important for these pre-Columbian populations.

9. Nine stone sculptures found in the wall of a mound.

10. Fragment of a wooden ceremonial cane found in a water tank.

11. Monoliths and petroglyphs: the natives left several carved stones with spiral-shaped petroglyphs, symbolizing water.

All these structures are made of 40 cm and 50 cm boulders placed in rows, with the flat side facing up and slabs of different sizes (even reaching 5 meters).

Natural trail that begins in the administration towards the east. It goes around and connects with other trail through Los Cantarillos.

Trail that starts in the administration and goes towards the northeast, crossing the Chanchera creek in direction to the Lajitas creek.

Trail that starts in the administration towards the northwest, passing through Chanchera creek, guiding you to the viewer and to archaeological pieces.

The guided tour of the trails has 20 subdivisions and can last from 40 minutes to 1 hour. This way you can understand better the flora, the fauna and the archaeological structures of the Monument.

Archaeological pieces in the National Museum
In 1882, the director of the National Museum, Anastasio Alfaro, made the first diggings obtaining extraordinary pieces that were later moved to the Museum:

1. Monolith of the Jaguar and the Alligator: the most important piece, found in 1973 by the park ranger Hazel Vargas. It is a wedge-shaped boulder that measures 1.4 meters by 56 cm. It has the figure of an alligator on one side and an animal with a rounded head and a cylindrical and long body on the other (jaguar). Both figures unite in the ends with the faces.

2. Decorated table: has a circular shape and measures 75 cm by 40 cm, and has a segmented, inverted-box pedestal with animal drawings.

3. Tombstone made of only one stone block: measures 186 cm by 60 cm and is 5 cm thick. It has animal figures all around its rim.

4. Golden and copper frog, golden bells, pottery pieces, statues, monoliths and petroglyphs, among others.

In 1968 and after several years of looting and vandalism, the archaeologist Carlos Aguilar Piedra began systematic excavations with the purpose of rescuing this Cultural Heritage. In 1982, one of the first archaeological exhibits of Costa Rica was displayed in the Museum of American History in Madrid, Spain.

Labeling in the Guayabo National Monument

Inspired in the speech of the Chief Seathl (1854), a well-known leader of North American tribes, you can read the following message:

“You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. Tell your children that the land is rich with the lives of our kin so that they will respect the land” and “The Earth does not belong to men, men belong to the earth. Everything that happens to Earth will also happen to the children of the Earth. The man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.”

como llegar?
How to get there?
Direct buses from San Jose to Turrialba:
Transtusa (San Jose, Street 13, Ave. 6)
Office phone number: (506) 2557-5050
Website: http://transtusacr.com/
Transportes Rivera (Turrialba, in front of the bus stop of Transtusa)
From Turrialba to Guayabo:
Monday through Saturday: 11:10am, 3:00pm and 5:30pm. Sundays: 9:00am and 3:00pm.
From Guayabo to Turrialba:
Monday through Saturday: 12:45pm and 4:15pm. Sundays: 9:00am, 12:45pm and 4:00pm.
Office phone number: (506) 2556-0362
The administration is 50 m before the entrance to the monument.

From San Jose, take the route #2 towards Cartago. Continue in direction to Paraiso (route #10) taking the exit on your right and continue for 12 km until you get to Cervantes. Keep going towards Juan Vińas and then towards Turrialba (about 20 km). In the intersection, continue in a northeast direction going off the route #10, to the town of Jesus Maria. The entrance to the monument is just before Lajas. The administration is 50 m before the entrance.

Other kind of transportation


Sus comentarios son importantes para mejorar la calidad de nuestra publicacion. Muchas gracias
Comments See all comments
Find the best services to enjoy your vacations in Costa Rica
Where to go?
Irazu Volcano National Park
The Irazu Volcano National Park has four craters, 2 main craters (the main crater and another one (...)
Turrialba Volcano National Park
The Turrialba Volcano National Park is part of an area that is completely covered by virgin (...)
Quetzales National Park
Los Quetzales National Park has three life zones or different types of forests, 14 ecosystems and a (...)
Tapanti National Park
The Tapanti National Park protects a great variety of ecosystems like moors, peats, swamps, (...)
Guayabo National Monument
This monument is part of the Central Mountain and Atlantic Slope cultural regions. It reflects the (...)
Los Santos Forest Reserve
Los Santos Forest Reserve is located in a very important area for hydrographic basins (rivers (...)
Pacuare River Forest Reserve
The Pacuare River Forest Reserve protects forests typical of the Atlantic zone. It also has a (...)
Social Club of Cartago Historical sites
This club was very selective when admitting people in. It has a neo-classical style and is (...)
Main Square of Cartago Historical sites
If you look around when you’re at this square, you will only see a monolith and people walking (...)
Remains of the Parish of Apostle Saint James Historical sites
Between 1577 and 1580, the Franciscans raised a straw ranch that served as parish. Years after (...)
Padre Peralta School Historical sites
This work was guided by the carpentry teacher Jose Ramon Garcia. The institution exists since (...)
Los Patios Balneary Historical sites
The patios where the people from the coffee mill of Alvaro Esquivel dried the coffee used to (...)
School of Orosi Historical sites
By the middle XVIII century, the Franciscans started their instructional process with the (...)
Alajuela is the second most important province of Costa Rica because
Barva – Birri
The city of Barva is one of the oldest cities in the history of Costa
Cartago was the capital of Costa Rica in 1823. This city has many
The city of Heredia is the header of the province of the same name
Perez Zeledon
The city of San Isidro del General is one of the most populated in
The zone of Poas extends through towns like San Pedro of Poas,
San José (Downtown & East Side)
The capital city of Costa Rica charms its visitors with all the
San José (West Side)
In the west section of San Jose, the capital, you can find the towns
Turrialba is a town located in a valley, surrounded by mountain
Valley of Orosi
The peaceful Valley of Orosi offers many natural and tourist