Guanacaste National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Costa Rica. it is a component of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Guanacaste National Park was created in 1989 to connect Santa Rosa National Park to the high-altitude cloud forest of the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. It is located in northern Liberia, on the east side of the Pan-American Highway. This national park is located in the northern part of the province of Guanacaste and is about a four-hour drive from the capital San Jose, Costa Rica.
It covers approximately 70,000 acres and is on the east side of the Pan American Highway in northern Liberia. Most of the credit for establishing the park goes to Dr. Daniel Janzen, who successfully solicited funding from international benefactors by promising to demonstrate “how to build a national park”. The success of his efforts to turn a cattle pasture into a biological corridor and restore tropical dry forest habitat has stunned scientists.
Nature and Wildlife in Guanacaste National Park
Guanacaste National Park, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, is home to diverse ecosystems. Along the Guanacaste mountain range, you’ll discover everything from arid savannahs to vast dry tropical woodlands, volcanic highlands (think moonscapes) and cloud forests, where higher elevations receive more precipitation. .
The park contains forty different types of mammals, and the white-faced monkey, jaguar, tapir, peccary, puma, tayra, and armadillo are all members of this group. It is also home to over 300 species of birds, including the Montezuma oropendola and the bare-necked umbrella bird. Sanctuary of more than a hundred different species of frogs, toads, lizards, snakes and lizards, this region is home to more than ten thousand other species of insects. The Guanacaste Conservation Area is home to approximately 2.6% of the world’s biodiversity and over 65% of Costa Rica’s species.
Trekking, nature exploration and bird watching
Short hikes are a big part of the appeal of Guanacaste National Park. Thanks to the significant elevation change, hikers can encounter a wide range of habitats as they climb from dry Pacific forests on the border with Santa Rosa National Park to high mountain cloud forests near the peaks of volcanoes Orosi and Cocoa. For those who travel north from Costa Rica, they can reach a rainforest reminiscent of the Caribbean.
The dry forest is home to a wide variety of animals, including capuchin monkeys, long-tongued bats, capuchin squirrels, white-nosed coatis, collared peccaries and white-tailed deer. White-throated magpie jays, orange-fronted parakeets and crested caracaras are just a few of the many bird species travelers are likely to spot in just an hour or two of walking (roadside hawks ). Visitors may spot fluted-billed anise, tanagers and squirrel-cuckoos at higher elevations.
Best time to visit Guanacaste National Park
While the park’s habitats are quite diverse, Guanacaste National Park is mostly arid, with an annual average of 118 inches of precipitation (thanks mostly to the park’s upland cloud forests). Strong winds and increasing rains characterize the months of January, February and March. Average highs are between 19 and 28 degrees Celsius (66-83 F).
This national park has two distinct seasons: a wet one from May to December and a dry one from January to April. Even during the rainy season, rainfall is scarce in some places. The trails in the park are very primitive which makes them even harder to navigate when muddy. it is therefore recommended to organize a visit during the dry season.
Main towns around Guanacaste National Park
The strategic location of San Jose, the country’s capital, allows visitors to quickly reach any part of the country. The city is well known for its commitment to sustainability and is one of the safest major cities in Latin America. Gallo pinto, a dish of beans and rice, is famous in San José and Costa Rica. Visitors can also spend the day at the National Theater of San José (or Teatro Nacional Costa Rica), one of the most prestigious structures in the city.
La Cruz, located in a prime location just on the border with Nicaragua, has a population of around 10,000 and is popular with surfers and environmental enthusiasts looking to access the country’s less traveled spots. Proximity to Santa Rosa National Park and the Pacific Ocean contributes to the city’s growth. There are now many more hotels, inns, restaurants and shops to accommodate the growing number of tourists.
- How to get to Guanacaste National Park from San José: There are 168 kilometers between San José and Guanacaste National Park. The fastest way to get to Guanacaste National Park from San José is by bus via Liberia, which costs €10 and takes two hrs 57 mins. Alternatively, you can fly between €95 and €1100 and 3 hours. The quickest option is the 45 minute direct drive from San Jose Airport to Liberia Airport. See rome2rio.com
- Where to stay near Guanacaste National Park: Rinconcito Lodge is a hotel between the Rincon de la Vieja and Miravalles volcanoes, a short distance from Daniel Oduber airport. This rustic accommodation with mountain views offers its guests the most pleasant climate in Guanacaste. Learn more here.