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Braulio Carrillo
General information


In the Central Volcanic Range, 24 km from San Jose, Northeast from the Central Valley. It goes from Alto de la Palma (in Moravia), to the biological station La Selva (in Sarapiqui).
Conservation Area:
It’s part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range Conservation Area.
47.586.6 hectares
Schedule: 8:00 am to 3:30 pm Entrance to the park in hours different from the ones specified in the schedule will be permitted only with the park’s previous authorization.
When to go?

Dry season: December to April

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2268-1038
(00506) 2268-1039
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
Camping permissions:
General information
Escape from all the noise of the city, come visit and walk through San Jose’s “lung” (because of the deep forests). The Braulio Carrillo National Park is part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range Conservation Area, considered the Biosphere’s Reserve, status given by the UNESCO.

It is part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range and its conservation area. The Braulio Carrillo National Park is the largest park in the country’s central region and its importance is due to the forests that cover the park, because they provide a significant balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen to the inhabitants of both slopes: Pacific and Atlantic. Likewise, it protects many of the streams that flow through the Central Valley, and has the most part of its territory in the hydrographic basin of the Sarapiqui River.

It includes the Barva Volcano with its craters, the Cacho Negro Volcano, which is very visible because it is cone-shaped, and the Bajo de la Hondura. Also, here you can find Barva’s lagoon, which is circle-shaped, is about 70 m. wide and has clear waters, and the Danta or Copey lagoon, which is about 500 m. wide.

This natural spot has high and steep mountains, an exuberant forest, extinguished volcanoes, impressive waterfalls that can be found everywhere and abundant rivers that form canyons, sometimes having vertical walls.

The zone’s weather is classified as humid and very humid with high rainfall, of an average of 4.500 mm. per year.
For low areas, the average temperatures go from 22° C to 25° C. In the top of the mountains, the temperatures are usually below 10° C.
Dry season: December to April
Rainy season: May to November

The Braulio Carrillo National Park has evergreen forest vegetation, where a primary forest covers the most part of it. Here you can find the following life zones: humid and very humid tropical forest, very humid and pluvial pre-montane forest, and very humid and pluvial montane forest.

Here you can find over 6.000 kinds of plants, which represent half of all the species found in Costa Rica (at least 50 species are endemic). The manu, mahogany, oak, caobilla and gavillan are very common. The botarrama, ceiba, yos, lorito and ojoche can also be found here. However, there are some endangered species, like the nazareno, jicaro, palmito dulce and the surtuba.

The humid tropical forest is home to hundreds of kinds of orchids and ferns, and in the highest parts of the park (Barva Volcano) the flora is typical of the cloud forest: the ciprecillo, candelillo, white oak and cedrillo are often found.

The Braulio Carrillo National Park has around 140 species of mammals and 515 species of birds (75% of the whole country; 28 of them are endemic) like the turkey, rey de los zopilotes (“buzzard king”), pajaro sombrilla, the goldfinch and the quetzal.
It has thousands of insects and dozens of reptiles and amphibians, like the Bufo Holdridge toad, an endemic species named after Leslie Holdridge, biological researcher that completed a large part of his work in the park, and the matabuey (“ox killer”), the largest poisonous snake in America.

Among the mammals there are large felids, like the jaguar and the puma, the tapir, the anteater, 3 types of monkeys: carablanca, colorado and the aullador (howler) (50% of the primate species in the country) and a great variety of bats. Also you can find peccaries, tepezcuintles (lowland pacas), agouties (type of rodent), honey bears, mountain goats, guatusas (Central American agouties) and coyotes.

Services and facilities on the Park
Information booths: you can find written information provided by the park rangers in the Quebrada Gonzalez and Barva Volcano stations.

Viewers: in the Las Palmas and Botarrama trails (Quebrada Gonzalez station) and the Barva lagoon (Barva Volcano station).

Camping area: behind the park rangers’ house of the Barva Volcano. There is a green area with capability for 10 tents and 40 people, which also has restrooms with showers and sinks, tables and drinking water.

Lunch area: it’s located in the common use area of both park rangers’ stations, with several tables available.

Parking lot: the Quebrada Gonzalez station has a parking lot with spaces for 10 cars and 2 buses. The Barva Volcano station doesn’t have parking facilities, but you can park your car on the side of the access road.

Lectures: at Quebrada Gonzalez you can attend lectures with slide presentations, but in order for you to assist, you have to make a reservation previously.

Quebrada Gonzalez section:
Las Palmas Trail: 2 km long and has a medium level difficulty; it has access all year long. Groups of maximum 20 people or you can go by yourself using the signs as a guide.

El Ceibo Trail: 1 km long and has a medium level difficulty; it has access all year long. Groups of maximum 20 people or you can go by yourself using the signs as a guide. There’s a viewer to the Sucio River.

Botarrama Trail: 3 km long and has a medium level difficulty; it has access all year long. Groups of maximum 20 people.

Barva Volcano section:
Sendero Escondido (Hidden Trail): 1.5 km long and has a medium level difficulty; it has access all year long. Groups of maximum 20 people or you can go by yourself using the signs as a guide.

Barva Lagoon Trail: 2.2 km long and has a medium level difficulty; it has access all year long and some viewers. Groups of maximum 20 people.

Copey Lagoon Trail: 5 km long and has a high level difficulty; it has access all year long. Groups of maximum 20 people.

Inside the Park:
Walking along marked trails
Visiting viewers

Outside the Park
Rainforest aerial tram in the Northeast border of the park, close to the Braulio Carrillo Highway.
Hotels for rest tourism available in the Southern section of the park.
You can practice sports and also have lunch just by the highway.

Braulio Carrillo
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Road recommendations
You should be careful when driving in rainy days because this road might get slippery and it’s considered dangerous.
The road that crosses the park and goes from San Jose to Puerto Limon has amazing viewers, but they’re not indicated properly.

Access recommendations
You need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get through the Barva Volcano station.
It’s recommended to visit the park during the dry season: December to April.

General recommendations inside the park
The park’s administration can restrict the access of the visitors to the public areas in case the amount of visitors surpasses the park’s capability.
Entrance to the park in hours different from the ones specified in the schedule will be permitted only with the park’s previous authorization. The schedule is from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
It’s better if you can get hold of the park’s regulations and read them out before you start your trip.
If you need help or any additional information, the park rangers will be more than glad to assist you.

Weather recommendations
Because of the fact that this area is very humid, it’s difficult to carry on the process of body oxygenation.
Take into consideration the temperature changes that take place as you start ascending towards the mountains: from 25° C to10° C.

Clothes and accessories recommendations
Bring comfortable and suitable clothes for humid weather, ideal for walking (bring also extra clothes in case of need).
Bring shorts and/or jeans.
Bring soft and comfortable shoes also suitable for walking, with non-skid soles.
Bring photographic and video camera and binoculars.
Bring sunscreen and some extra clothes.

Stay recommendations
If you’re planning on setting camp, you must bring your own tent and sleeping bag. Also bring mosquito repellent, a towel and some water bottles.

Recommendations for walking along the trails
Do it at your own pace, how you feel the most comfortable, without pushing yourself.

Food recommendations
Bring water bottles

Health recommendations
This trip is not recommended for people who have heart or lung diseases.

Recommendations for a responsible tourist
You’re not allowed to remove plants, animals, rocks or any other materials from the park and take them with you.
For your safety, please remain on the marked trails, in the common use areas.
Throw away the litter properly in the recycling bins (glass, cans, plastic, organic).

Recommendations with the animals
Even though there's a large variety of animal species in the park, most of them are 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:
Outstanding attractions
The Braulio Carrillo National Park is divided in three sections:

The Zurqui section (main administration), in the 20th km of the road that goes from San Jose to Limon, 500 m. before the Zurqui tunnel. In this section you can find two trails: Los Nińos and Los Guarumos.

The Quebrada Gonzalez section is located East from the Sucio River, on the road to Guapiles, with an altitude of 500 m. above sea level. It has a very humid weather, characterized for an evergreen forest, which is perfect for the observation and study of species. The administration is located 13 km after the Zurqui tunnel. Here you can find another three trails: Las Palmas, El Ceibo and Botarrama.

The Barva Volcano section, Copey Lagoon, El Mirador (The Viewer) and the Poas Volcano, is formed by a volcanic structure that’s about 100 km˛ and has fumaroles and hot springs. Some authors have mentioned a huge eruption that occurred in the year 1772.

It has several lagoons of volcanic origin, and the most attractive one is the Barva Lagoon, which is 70 m. wide, 8.60 m. deep, has an average temperature of 11C, and is surrounded by the cloud forest. You can also go to the Copey Lagoon, which is 40 m. wide, has a temperature of around 11C and an unknown depth. It has three trails: Sendero Escondido, Laguna Volcan Barva and Laguna Copey.

Rio Sucio (Dirty River)

It’s an extraordinary phenomenon of the park: a stream that flows from the Irazu Volcano and has an orange, coffee-like color due to the sulfur deposits that run in its waters. In 1994, an explosion in the Northern section of the main crater caused a slip that reached the Sucio River, changing and guiding its course underneath the Braulio Carrillo Highway. Along its way it unites with the Claro River.

Hills located inside the park:
Cerro Chompipe (2.259 masl):
Located in the Monte de la Cruz (Mount of the Cross), it has a large antenna that can be seen from San Jose. To the left you can find the historical stone trail that the president Braulio Carrillo used to make his first trip to the Atlantic.

Cerro Turu (2.139 m) and Cerro Caricias (Caresses Hill):
At their base lies San Isidro de Heredia and from these hills flow the Turu and Tranqueras rivers. In the border of the mountain there is a cross that is sometimes used as a pilgrimage spot, or also for family trips. From there you can see very well the Braulio Carrillo Highway, up to San Luis de Santo Domingo.

Las Tres Marias (1.725 m):
Hills located inside the park in the Ventanas (Windows) area. They cannot be seen from San Jose and their name has been misused for the Barva Volcano’s hills.

Volcan Barva (2.906 m):
There are three hills in the right part of the Barva’s massif, incorrectly named by generations the Tres Marias (Three Maries). In the lowest part of the central peak (behind) there is the Barva Volcano’s lagoon (main crater). From here, the rivers Ciruelas and Segundo begin to flow.

Cerro Guarari (2.559 m):
It is located all the way to the occidental South part of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, which serves as a natural barrier. It is the peak to the left of Barva’s massif. For you to get inside the park, you can walk through two zones, either Concordia or Sacramento.

Cerro Delicias (2.290 m):
It is the one to the right of the antennas, next to the Chompipe Hill.

Cerro Tibas (2.179 m):
It is pointy-shaped and has impressive, almost vertical, stone walls in its rear part, that can be seen from the Braulio Carrillo Highway (if the weather allows it). This is the point from where the Tibas River begins to flow.

Cerro Zurqui (2.010 m):
Second one from East to West, it is very hard to reach because it’s very steep. This zone is very well known for suffering collapses during the winter. This hill is formed by many steep and eroded cones, like Chompipe and Turu.

Cerro Hondura (2.047 m):
This hill is crossed by the Zurqui tunnel and serves as a South border for this National Park. This is the last hill of “Paso de la Palma”, and from here you can clearly see the Central Valley.

Volcan Irazu (3.432 m):
This is the highest peak visible from San Jose (to the East) and it has many antennas that can be seen with sunlight. To get there, you have to come through Tierra Blanca and then drive through the paved road all the way up to the crater. It is part of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range Reserve.

Cerro Cacho Negro (2.250 m):
It’s a volcanic build-up that is cone-shaped and is located in the North part of the park. The Northeast side of the volcanic cone is open due to an explosion in the Quaternary Period (about 2.6 million years ago).

The park was named after Braulio Carrillo, third chief of state that ruled the country from 1837 to 1842. This ruler gave rise to the coffee cultivation and during his administration he tried to connect the Central Valley with the Caribbean, in order to ease the coffee’s transportation towards the European market.
In the year 1881, the General Tomas Guardia began the construction of a paved road between Paracito de Moravia and the point where the Hondura and Sucio rivers connect, but this route was then left behind when the San Jose – Limon railway started operating by the year 1891. In 1977, the construction of the current highway that goes from San Jose to Guapiles began. In 1978, this National Park was created under an executive order to prevent the destruction of the area.

Braulio Carrillo
como llegar?
How to get there?
The Braulio Carrillo National Park has two entrances in the park rangers’ stations in Quebrada Gonzalez and Barva Volcano.
Empresarios guapileńos
For the Quebrada Gonzalez park ranger station:
From San Jose (North Atlantic Terminal, Ave. 13, Central Street) to Guapiles:
Every day from 5:30am to 7:45pm (every 20 to 30 min)
Towards San Jose (going from the Zurqui or the Quebrada Gonzalez station. Wait in the highway for the bus that’s coming back):
Every day from 5:30am to 7:45pm (every 20 to 30 min)
Office phone number: (506) 2222-0610
Busetas Heredianas (Buses from Heredia):
For the Barva Volcano park ranger station:
From San Jose to Heredia (from Heredia’s Terminal: Street 4, Ave. 5-7)
Monday through Sunday: from 4:00am to 10:00pm (every 5 min)
From Heredia to San Jose:
Monday through Sunday: from 5:00am to 10:00pm (every 5 min)
Office phone number: (506) 2261-7171
Fax: (506) 2260-7872
Website: www.busetasheredianas.com

Transportes Barbeńos LTDA (Transportation from Barva)

From Heredia to the Barva Volcano: (route 422)
Monday through Saturday: From 4:55am to 11:00pm (every 15 min)
Sundays: 6:30am to 11:00pm (every 10 min)
From the Barva Volcano to Heredia: (walk 6 km to the park entrance, then 4 km to the lagoon)
Monday through Saturday: From 4:55am to 10:45pm (every 15 min)
Sundays: 6:15am to 10:45 (every 10 min)
Office tel/fax: (506) 2262-1839
Website: www.autobusesheredianos.com/t_barbenos/horarios.html

Zurqui Station:
Driving from San Jose towards Limon (route 32), 500 meters before the Zurqui tunnel.
Quebrada Gonzalez Station: (aprox. 42 km from San Jose)
Take the highway that goes from San Jose to Guapiles (route 32), 13 km after the Zurqui tunnel, 2 km East from the brigde over the Sucio River and before passing the bridge that goes over Quebrada Gonzalez. This access road is considered dangerous, but can be crossed by any type of vehicle, being especially careful in rainy days.

Barva Volcano Station (aprox. 35 km from San Jose)

You have to enter through Heredia’s central region towards the communities of Barva of Heredia, in San Jose de la Montańa, Sacramento. Because of the type of access road, it allows you to enter all the way down to Sacramento’s community by using a regular vehicle. For the last 4 km you can either walk or use a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Other kind of transportation


Braulio Carrillo
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