Enriched with a wealth of National Parks, Guanacaste is blessed with an abundance of wildlife and natural landscapes. Rincon de la Vieja National Park is home to the still steaming volcano of the same name. It is composed of nine adjoining craters, and is the largest of five volcanoes in the Guanacaste mountain range and adventure seekers can hike to the summit. The National Park was set up in 1973 to preserve the 32 rivers and streams that contribute to the areas watershed. It is home to the ‘guaria morada’, Costa Rica’s national flower, a type of purple orchid, as well as an abundance of mammals. Over 300 bird species make their homes here, and birders come by the dozen to try and spot toucans, eagles and even the elusive quetzal.
Santa Rosa National Park is one of the oldest and largest protected areas in Costa Rica. Established in 1971 it covers 386 square kilometres and conserves the largest stretch of tropical dry forest in Central America and significant nesting sites for several species of sea turtle. In particular, the mass nesting ground of olive ridley sea turtles at Nancite Beach which can reach up to 8000 at a time. However, most people flock here for the surfing, with near-perfect breaks at Playa Naranjo, formed by the offshore outcrop known as Witch’s Rock.
Palo Verde National Park, on the banks of the Tempisque River is a nature lovers’ dream. Formed of a large web of tropical mangrove forests, tropical lowland dry forests, savannahs and wetlands, it provides a home for crocodiles, sharks, caiman, snakes, various mammals and hundreds of birds. It is highly recommended for birdwatchers and wildlife seekers.
Other notable national parks include Barra Honda, famed for its caves and unusual rock formations; Tenorio Volcano is noted for the volcano of the same name and the enticing Rio Celeste. Although less visited they are teeming with wildlife and stunning natural landscapes and well worth a visit.