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Carara National Park

Size: 4.700 hectares.
Distance from San José: 
110 kilometers.
Dry season:
November through April.
This lake is one of the greatest variety of waterflow, amphibians and reptiles.

Carara National Park is a must for anyone interested in tropical biology. Its high species diversity and ease of access make this a worthwhile trip from San José, or on the way to points further south. The park is located between the dry forests of the north and the humid ones of the south and it is the result of this situation in an "ecotone" or melding area that gives Carara its diversity. There are trails that go through both zones where you can appreciate the forest's exuberance and if lucky enough spot some animal species which inhabit it.


Many endangered and threatened species live and breed here, like the American crocodile. Carara is also considered a sanctuary of the rare and beautiful Scarlet Macaw, the park's symbol which is on the endangered list. In the park there are approx 200 couples which live and breed in absolute freedom.

The three toed sloth lives, feeds and mates on the trees.
Crocodiles can easily be seen basking in the sun along the banks of the Grande de Tarcoles river.

The word "Carara" is an indigenous term, reputedly meaning "river of crocodiles". The area in which the reserve is located was occupied by an indigenous culture that is thought to have been allied with groups located in the Central Valley from 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D. Extensive tomb sites have been excavated here, and the burial places of people of high status are remarkably complex.

The best time to visit Carara is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Park hours are 7:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Carara National Park
Map of Costa Rica and its National Parks