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Chirripo National Park is located in the heart of the Talamanca Range at the south of the country and borders two reserves and Tapanti National Park forming a largest protected area of Costa Rica. Chirripo NP protects the highest peak at 3821 m (12,536ft) in the country and the second highest of Central America, and it is connected to the Tapantí National Park, constituting a continuum of forest. Those who reach the summit on a sunny day will have the privilege of seeing both coasts of Costa Rica, and the Turrialba and Irazú volcanoes. The Chirripó National Park was declared a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Barbilla Corcovado Carara Barra Honda Barra Honda Brauillio Carriollo Brauillio Carrillo Cahuita Cahuita Carara Chirripo Chirripo Corcovado Diria Diria Guanacaste Guanacaste Irazu Volcano Isla del Coco Juan Castro Blanco Juan Castro Blanco Isla del Coco La Amistad La Amistad Irazu Volcano La Cangreja La Cangreja Los Quetzales Los Quetzales Manuel Antonio Manuel Antonio Marino Ballena Marino Ballena Marino Las Baulas Marino Las Baulas Palo Verde Santa Rosa Piedras Blancas Tanpanti Turrialba Volcano Poas Volcano Tenorio Volcano Ricon del la Vieja Tortuguero Palo Verde Santa Rosa Tanpanti Piedras Blancas Tenorio Volcano Poas Volcano Tortuguero Rincon de la Vieja Turrialba Volcano


Chirripó National Park is a mixture of oak forest, glacial lakes, rocky peaks, and páramo vegetation. It was declared a National Park in 1975, and is located in the provinces of San Jose, Cartago and Limón. There are five interesting places in the massif. First is the Sabana de los Leones (Lion's Savannah), which despite of the name has no relation to the African savannahs. It is an area free of trees but surrounded by the cloud forest, where the grasses or bamboos predominate.  The Sabana de los Leones received its name for the frequent sightings of pumas. Second, there is the Rabbit Valley (Valle de los Conejos) that is located in the paramo itself and also received that name because of the abundance of rabbits in the area. This place is surrounded by an amazing topographic diversity. The peak of the Chirripó, is a place free of vegetation where the view of the Costa Rican territory is "jaw-dropping."  The glacial lakes can be observed in the Valle de los Lagos and the Valle de las Morrenas. These lakes are of variable size, with transparent, cold water, and are visited by the mammals of the area. The park also protects important water sources and springs.

This park has several life zones: lower montane rainforest, montane forest, and the páramo. These areas are associated with high elevations and high precipitation (4000 mm). The forest extends up to 3000 masl, and from this elevation to the peak of the Chirripó is where the páramo lies. The Costa Rican páramo resembles the vegetation typical of the high elevations at the Andes in South America, except for the absence of the characteristic Espeletia plants. It is interesting because it represents the Northern distribution limit for several highland species that are also found in the Andes.

The most famous animal here is probably the resplendent quetzal. This beautiful bird likes the oak forest of the region, and feed on the “aguacatillo” fruits. The Sooty Thrush (Turdus nigrescens), the Volcanic Junco (Junco vulcani), Silvery-fronted Tapaculo (Scytalopus argentifrons), the Wrenthrush Zeledonia (Zeledonia coronata) are only few of the more than 45 endemic species of Costa Rica and western Panamá found in the Chirripó National Park. There are also some species of endemic salamanders in the area (Bolitoglossa pesrubra and B. tica).

Reservations are needed to visit this park.  Mountains cabins are available for hikers. The best season to visit the park is the dry season (December to March). Make your reservation with 3 months in advance if you plan to  visit during the dry season. Park office :(506) 771-3155.

Sources: Boza, M. 1981. Los Parques Nacionales de Costa Rica. Incafo. 310 p.;  Stiles & Skucth. 1989. A guide to the Birds of Costa Rica.

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