CARARA BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
The reserve is located in the Pacific, in the borders of the River Grande de Tárcoles, southeast of the Province of Puntarenas. Its creation came with the Executive Order No. 8491-Á from April 27, 1978. It has an area of 4.700 hectares. Carara is located in the transition zone between the dry forest and wet forest of the Pacific region of Costa Rica and can be saying that no other wilderness area of the country protects the resources of plants and animals on the bioclimatic region.
The reserve was created to facilitate research and scientific studies, and provide environmental education. This wilderness area is considered an excellent living laboratory in which to study the structure and functioning of tropical ecosystems and relationships between them.
Carara has various ecosystems such as wetlands, ponds and secondary and primary gallery forests. The swamps are formed by the seasonal flooding of the river Grande de Tárcoles, in an area located northeast of the reservation. These areas are rich in species of wading birds, amphibians and reptiles associated with such environments. The lake occupies a large abandoned meander of the river Grande de Tárcoles, measuring 600 meters long and 40 meters wide and 2 meters deep. It is virtually covered by choreja or water lily and other aquatic plants.
In this environment there are several reptile species such as crocodiles that are up to three meters long and aquatic birds such as pink herons, needle ducks, cock of water, zambullidores piquipintos and martín peña. The crocodiles are also abundant and easy to see in the river Grande de Tárcoles.
The gallery forests are in the borders of the rivers, are dense, high and have low diversity of species. The espavel is the characteristic specie in that habitat. The secondary forests are located on land previously devoted to agricultural activities, have lower species diversity than primary forests and have more deciduous species. The palm viscoyol, very thorny, is forming rose bushes almost pure in this kind of forest. Primary forest covers most of the reservation. Located on land on 20 to 60 percent slope, have high diversity, some layers and abundance of liana and epiphytes. Some of the trees that catch our attention by their size are the espavel, ceiba, guanacaste, gallinazo, guácimo colorado, higuerón, guayabón and the javillo. Other species of trees are the lechoso, the nazareno which produces a purple hardwood, cristóbal, ajo, hule, pochote, mora, the golden fruit and the ron ron.
Wildlife is abundant despite the isolation of the reserve. The most prominent are: peccary, soso caballo, martilla, agouti, coati, raccoon, ocelot, white faced monkey, two-toed sloth, tolomuco, deer and fox four eyes. A bird very conspicuous by their beautiful plumage and because it has virtually disappeared from the Dry Pacific, is the scarlet macaw. Other bird species are: the peacock, the hummingbird, the tucancillo, the guaco and the chocuaco. Some of the species mentioned before are endangered or with small populations.
Carara Biological Reserve has many vestiges of pre-Columbian indigenous occupations. Archaeological studies carried out enabled the location until fifteen cultural sites corresponding to two periods of occupation: Pavas Phase (300 years B.C. - 300 years A.C.) and the Cartago Phase (800 years - 1500 years A.C.), with agriculture subsistence basis. In the second period of occupation stand out various locations, including Carara which corresponds to a rectangular base (6x4 m), built on river stones and limestone, and Lomas Entierro, a big village with housing zones and burial areas at the top of the hills located in front of the river Tárcoles. Lomas Entierro was a major settlement during the pre-Columbian times and exercised political and economic dominance in the lower area of the river Tárcoles. Forest fires, illegal hunting and the limitation on financial and human resources to face the growing tourist demand because the natural attractive the reserve protects are the main problems that the reserve is facing actually.
Park facilities and hours
The Quebrada Bonita Ranger Station is open for visitor attention from 8am to 4pm, and has potable water and restrooms. Telephone (506) 383-9953. There are two hiking trails in Carara National Park. One-half mile south of the Rio Grande de Tarcoles bridge, as you head towards the rangers station, there is a parking area on the left. The 2.7 mile Araceas Nature Trail that begins here parallels the Río Grande de Tárcoles and has short branches to the Laguna Meandrica and marshes. At the Quebrada Bonita Ranger Station you will find a 1/2 mile loop trail. See the trail map above.
Our reception desk will be pleased to answer any questions you may have about these or other tours. Tours can be booked through our receptionists prior to or during your trip.
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