As Costa Rican authorities have declared tourists from a selected number of countries can now enter Costa Rica, and measures enforced due to the Coronavirus pandemic back in March are starting to be lifted, with numerous establishments reopening, including restaurants, gyms, pharmacies, and hair salons among others. This also means that many of Costa Rica’s natural treasures have also reopened to visitors, with many National Park’s restarting visits on August 1st.
In a statement by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), a series of guidelines to follow when visiting the parks has been laid out. In order to keep the number of COVID-19 infections as low as possible, the capacity of the parks will be reduced to a 50%, and Park Managers will have to ensure hygiene measures are implemented.
Visitors will also have to follow certain rules to ensure everyone’s safety. Cash payments will not be accepted, so buying your tickets in advance online, or with a credit card on the spot is highly recommended to guarantee entry. Constant hand washing is crucial, make sure you bring your own hand sanitizer and disinfectant towels as well as soap and water. Social distancing is also in place, and authorities recommend a minimum of 1.8 meters between social bubbles when inside the protected wildlife areas and infrastructure.
To begin with, the following parks will reopen, with more to follow.
Caño Island Biological Reserve, South Puntarenas
Located a few kilometers off of the Osa Peninsula, Caño Island is an enigmatic marine biological reserve. This 300-hectare piece of land in the pacific has a grand geographical and archaeological relevance, being a former burial ground dating back to pre-colonial times.
Wildlife or fauna are not so predominant on the island itself, but much of it’s interest stems from the perfectly carved stone spheres found across the landscape. This island is mostly known for the beautiful waters surrounding it, home to very rich flora and fauna as well as a spectacular coral reef. So don’t forget to bring snorkeling gear if you are ready for a superb aquatic adventure!
Los Quetzales National Park, San José
Formerly known as Los Santos Reserve, this park south of San José is one of the best places to observe the very rich wildlife found in Costa Rica, it is also a perfect spot for eco-tourism. The park gets its name from its most abundant and most flamboyant species, the quetzal, a tropical bird with distinctive colored plumage and long green tails, known to be among the bird species with the brightest colors.
Take a stroll among its elevated forests of which there are three different kinds. A great location for nature enthusiasts and casual ornithologists.
Tapantí-Macizo de La Muerte National Park
The Tapantí National Park finds itself at an altitude ranging from 1,220 to 2,560 meters above sea level and it is located within the most humid areas of Costa Rica. This biodiverse paradise is home to more than 250 species of birds, 45 different kinds of mammals and more than 30 different species of reptiles. There are also numerous types of trees and many trails such as the “La Picada de Calderón”, a cultural heritage site still used by local travellers on horseback.
An excursion along the Grande de Orosi river running through this park is a breath taking experience.
Ballena National Park
Named after the Humpback whales migrating every year between December and April, this beautiful marine park stretches from the southern end of Playa Hermosa to the northern tip of Playa Piñuela and about 9 km into the Pacific. Best enjoyed at low tide when you can walk all the way to Punta Uvita; this area is also perfect for snorkeling because of the rich wildlife found underwater. Hawksbill Turtles can usually be spotted in the late summer laying eggs, but be quiet and don’t approach too closely, as they have struggled to make their way there.
Monte Alto Nature Reserve
Located around 500 to 900 meters above sea level, the Monte Alto Nature Reserve belongs to the Nosara Protected Zone, which protects the wildlife surrounding the Rio Nosara. Roaming around the humid forest you can spot various species of animals including small wildcats, as well as diverse types of plants, many of which scientists are yet to discover!
It is recommended to walk along the 500m long orchid trail, hosting more than 80 species of native orchids and bromeliads flaunting their bright colors and contours. Very easy to reach from the towns of Nicoya, Samara and Hojancha the entrance fee to this park is just 5$ per person.
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