Ecologically vital PARQUE NACIONAL CARARA (daily 7am–4pm, May–Nov from 8am; $10; t 2637-1080), 90km west of San José, occupies a transition area between the hot tropical lowlands of the north and the humid, more verdant climate of the southern Pacific coast. Consequently, the park teems with wildlife, from monkeys to margays and motmots to manakins.

Carara’s well-maintained trails are split between the heavily canopied area near the park’s ranger station and the more open terrain around Laguna Meándrica, an oxbow lake that is home to crocodiles: it’s accessed from a trailhead 2km north along the highway, towards the Río Tárcoles Bridge. At the ranger station, the loop trails of Sendero Las Aráceas (1.2km; 1hr) and Sendero Quebrada Bonita (1.5km; 1hr 30min) take in primary and transitionary forest and are reliable places to spot agouti and other small rodents; you can also often see great tinamou on the paths here, and sometimes even catch the spectacular leks of orange-collared manikins. Both routes are reached via the Sendero Encuentro de Ecosistemas, a 1.2km loop near the ranger station that is accessible to wheelchair users. Birdwatching is perhaps even better along the rivers and in the clearings on the Sendero Laguna Meándrica (4.3km; 2–4hr), where the wide range of avifauna includes boat-billed herons. Whichever trail you take, it’s worth hiring a guide ($20 per person for 2hr) from the ranger station, as they can also take you into areas that tourists aren’t allowed on their own.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Costa Rica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Best places to visit in Costa Rica

Spanning two coastlines – the Pacific and Caribbean – and filled with tropical cloud forest, waterfalls, volcanoes and peculiar, cute critters in between…

19 Oct 2018 • Kirsten Powley insert_drive_file Article
From surf’s up to chill out – the best beaches in Costa Rica

From surf’s up to chill out – the best beaches in Costa Rica

With five percent of the world’s total biodiversity, Costa Rica is a fascinating destination. It's packed with abundant natural charms, from ethereal cloud fo…

26 Sep 2018 • Jenny Cahill-Jones insert_drive_file Article
The best hikes in Costa Rica

The best hikes in Costa Rica

Over a quarter of Costa Rica’s landscape is protected by its comprehensive system of national parks, wildlife refuges and biological reserves. As well as …

28 Mar 2018 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs