Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo, Costa Rica
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Braulio Carrillo National Park is a National Park of the Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area in Costa Rica located on the eastern edge of the central volcanic corridor between San José and Puerto Limón. It is accessible from the Limon Highway, which bisects the park running roughly east-west, and Barva, in the north. The park contains many notable geological features, such as the Barva Volcano, Hondura River, Patria River, and the mineral-discolored Súcio River. The park is separated into three main sectors - Zurquí, Quebrada Gonzales, and Barva.
The park contains several dormant volcanoes including Cerro Chompipe, Cerro Cacho Negro and Cerros las Tres Marias. Barva itself has three crater lakes - Barva, Danta and Copey. The park also protects areas of the Sarapiquí River watershed, including large amounts of primary cloud and rainforest, and the flora and fauna that makes it their home.
Established in 1978, the park was formed as an agreement with environmental lobbyists to limit and prevent development of the area after the construction of the Limon Highway, a major road linking the capital to Caribbean cargo ports. The park was named in honor of former Costa Rican president Braulio Carrillo, whose administration had helped foster the nation's early agricultural economy and had built the first road linking San José to the Caribbean coast.
Both the park's large size (108,970 acres) and its varied altitude (it descends nearly 3000 meters, or 9842 ft, from the highest to lowest points) it is home to several distinct life zones. Ranging from high-altitude cloud forest to tropical lowlands rainforest, it maintains one of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica. More than 90% of the park is covered in primary forest, providing a unique snapshot of ancient ecological conditions.
The park contains landscapes representing the Talamancan montane forests ecoregion at high elevations and the Isthmian-Atlantic moist forests ecoregion at low elevations. It is significant for its biodiversity with 600 identified species of trees, over 530 species of birds, and 135 species of mammals already catalogued. Examples of birds found include the Solitary Eagle, the Bare-necked Umbrellabird, as well as several species of hummingbirds. The area near Barva is home to the black-headed bushmaster.
Unlike the more popular Costa Rican parks such as Poás and Manuel Antonio, this park is relatively unmaintained and untravelled. Three main ranger stations serve the park, although only two of them, Quebrada Gonzales and Barva, provide sanitary facilities and drinking water for visitors. The few available hiking trails are often narrow, ungroomed, and not regularly monitored by rangers. The trail from Puesto Barva to the La Selva Protected Zone in the north is difficult and long - estimated to take about 4 days under good conditions. Other trails, such as Los Botarramas and El Ciebo, are much shorter measuring between 1–2 km (.6 - 1.25 mi), but are often steep, wet and uneven.
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