... Braulio Carrillo National Park ...
by Infocostarica Staff

Did you see “Gorillas in the mist”? Well, the tropical rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica looks very similar to the setting of the movie. This flora and fauna sanctuary is an emerald-green mass of vegetation, a saturation of tropical plants, waterfalls and trees that are heavily laden with orchids and other plants that cling to their branches. Even if someone has witnessed the splendor of a virgin rainforest before, no one that visits the Braulio Carrillo National Park can avoid feeling a sense of awe because of its beauty and magnitude.

Braulio Carrillo National Park - imagen 1

Braulio Carrillo is located only 20 kms. Northeast of the capital city of San Jose, and it’s open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of the entrance fee at the park is of $15, or $7 if it’s been purchased in advance. The park was founded in 1978 in order to save some of the area that was being opened up by the Guapiles Highway, and it was named after the third president of Costa Rica who ruled in the mid 1800’s.

Braulio Carrillo is located only 20 kms. Northeast of the capital city of San Jose, and it’s open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost of the entrance fee at the park is of $15, or $7 if it’s been purchased in advance. The park was founded in 1978 in order to save some of the area that was being opened up by the Guapiles Highway, and it was named after the third president of Costa Rica who ruled in the mid 1800’s.

There are two entrances into the park, the main one being 500 meters South of the Zurqui tunnel, where the ranger station is located. Across the road from this “puesto” or station, is the trail named “Capulin”, which should take hikers an approximate time of an hour and a half to cross. The initial hundred meters are steep, but a railing should keep you from falling down; after a while, though, the path levels out and offers hikers an opportunity to try to spot birds or other animals in the brush or up on the canopies. The other short trail begins at the northeast entrance to the park, 15 kilometers northeast from the Zurqui ranger station. The trail called “Sendero Natural Botarrama” is only I kilometer or about !/2 mile long, which means that it automatically doesn’t qualify as a challenging path for an experienced and active hiker. There are some things that people should keep in mind when entering these paths. First of all, even in the dry season, the paths are muddy and slippery most of the time; it’s important to wear good shoes and to watch out for falls. Secondly, many people, both local and foreign, have gotten lost in the Braulio Carrillo Park, probably because the paths that are offered are very limited, and people feel a need to explore more. Even experienced hikers should never, ever leave the paths, since the park has witnessed many casualties due to people’s wanderings.

Braulio Carrillo National Park - imagen 2

Even though the paths are small, bird watchers might still spot many animals like the beautiful quetzals, toucans, trogons and eagles. Other common animals and reptiles are the jaguar, ocelot, bushmaster snake (“Matabuey”), or the feared fer-de-lance snake (“Terciopelo”). The vegetation is, as mentioned before, completely breath-taking. The park is at 50 m above sea level at its lowest point, and at 2906 m at its highest, in the Volcan Barva. Because of this, the life zones range from tropical wet to cloud forest, meaning that its vegetation is equally diverse.

The Braulio Carrillo Park is one of the easiest and closest parks to access from San Jose. There’s an excellent bus service from San Jose to the park and vice-versa, since Guapiles, Siquirres and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui buses stop right in front of the ranger station. Visitors who don’t want to travel by bus, might take a cab (the approximate cost from San Jose is $35), or rent a car, since the location isn’t difficult to reach. If you’re interested in a more elaborate visit to the park, you might want to call “Los caminos de la selva” agency, which offers birdwatching tours (tel.255-34-86).

Last but not least, if you’re already in the Braulio Carrillo National Park, it’s definitely worth visiting the Aerial Tram, located at the end of the protected area (towards Guapiles). This unique tram lets visitors travel in one of its twenty cable cars and to go through the forests’ canopy in order to spot flora and fauna that would otherwise be hidden from view. Visitors must realize that it isn’t a zoo, where animals will be spotted at all times, but even if tourists don’t see many creatures, the visit is still worth it. The Aerial Tram also offers a restaurant and a visitor’s center. (Tel. 257-59-61 or fax 257-60-53).

The Braulio Carrillo is one of the easiest parks to access from San Jose, but its tropical splendor and magnificence set it apart from the rest of the country. After only a thirty or forty minute drive from San Jose, you will encounter this amazing place, which reminds people of what ¾ of the country used to be like, only fifty years ago.