Rincón de la Vieja National Park
The area of the Rincón de la Vieja Nartional Park extends over 14083 hectares and protects the flora and fauna as well as the continental watershed around the namesake volcano.
It includes semi-evergreen forests and humid forests as well as rocky, sparsely vegetated terrain at altitudes between 650 and 1916 metres on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the volcanic Cordillera of Guanacaste. The climatic conditions are extremely varied, so that areas with droughts can be found in the vicinity of regions with high precipitation and dense forests, whose trees are covered over and over with epiphytes. The bird life of the National Park is particularly diverse, with 257 species including rare bird species such as Quetzal, Maskenklarino, Tuberkel-Hokko, Montezuma Ornithopter, Laucharassari, Trogon, Spectacled Owl, White-fronted Amazon, Hammerfinch and Laughing Falcon. Among the Park’s mammals are several species of cats, including jaguars and pumas, as well as capuchin and squirrel monkeys, two-toed sloth and the rare tapirs.
The Rincón de La Vieja belongs to a chain of nine volcanoes that were formed about 1 million years ago, including the spectacular Santa Maria and Von Seebach. The National Park can be reached from both the Pacific and Caribbean sides, with the vast majority of hotels and consequently visitors on the Pacific side concentrated on the western slopes of the Rincón de La Vieja. The ascent of the volcano is possible from both sides, but the route from the north to the summit is more demanding or requires a better physical condition.
The Pacific side of the National Park is one of the hottest and driest regions of Costa Rica. It can therefore also be visited during the rainy season. The landscape is characterized by tropical dry forest, interspersed with pastures. In contrast to the north side, there are numerous hotels and small guesthouses along the access roads to the two ranger stations Las Pailas and Santa Maria. Also from the Pacific side you can make day trips to interesting destinations of the region like the Santa Rosa National Park in the northwest of the country. This little visited national park covers the main part of the Santa Elena Peninsula and is divided into several sectors. The park is named after the Hacienda Santa Rosa, where in 1856 a historical battle took place between the hastily assembled Costa Rican army and the invasion troops of the infamous William Walker. Often called “La Casona”, the Hacienda is now a museum and a national monument.