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Guanacaste National Park is one of Costa Rica's beautiful national parks and wildlife preserves; it is a component of the Guanacaste Conservation Area. Guanacaste National Park was established in 1989 to connect Santa Rosa National Park with the high-elevation cloud forest of the Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. It is located north of Liberia on the east side of the Pan-American Highway. This national park is located in the northern portion of Guanacaste province and is approximately a four-hour drive from the capital city of San Jose, Costa Rica.


It is about 70,000 acres in size and sits on the east side of the Pan-American Highway to the north of Liberia. Most of the credit for the park's establishment goes to Dr. Daniel Janzen, who successfully solicited financing from international benefactors by promising to demonstrate "how to construct a National Park." The success of his efforts to transform a cattle pasture into a biological corridor and restore tropical dry forest habitat has astounded scientists.

Nature And Wildlife In Guanacaste National Park

Guanacaste National Park, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, is home to various ecosystems. Along the Guanacaste Mountain Range, you'll discover everything from barren savannahs to expansive tropical dry woods, high volcanic terrain (think moonscapes), and cloud forests, where higher elevations receive more precipitation.

The park contains forty different types of mammals, and the white-faced monkey, jaguar, tapir, peccary, puma, tayra, and armadillo are all members of this group. It is also home to over 300 bird species, including the Montezuma oropendola and bare-necked umbrella bird. A sanctuary to over a hundred different species of frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, and lizards, this region is home to over ten thousand other insect species. The Guanacaste Conservation Area is home to approximately 2.6 percent of the world's biodiversity and more than 65 percent of Costa Rica's species.

Related: 10 Rainforest Resorts In Costa Rica That Will Blow Your Mind

Trekking, Nature Exploration, and Birdwatching

Short hikes are a big part of the allure of Guanacaste National Park. Thanks to the significant elevation change, hikers may encounter a wide range of habitats as they climb from the dry Pacific forests at the boundary with Santa Rosa National Park to the high-mountain cloud forests near the peaks of Orosi and Cacao volcanoes. For those traveling north of Costa Rica, they can reach a rainforest reminiscent of the Caribbean.

The dry forest is home to a wide variety of animals, including capuchin monkeys, long-tongued bats, capuchin squirrels, white-nosed coatis, collared peccaries, and white-tailed deer. White-throated Magpie Jays, Orange-fronted Parakeets, and Crested Caracaras are just a few of the many bird species travelers are likely to observe in only an hour or two of walking (roadside hawks). Visitors may spot Groove-billed Anis, Tanagers, and Squirrel Cuckoos at higher elevations.

Best Time To Visit Guanacaste National Park

While the park's habitats are pretty diverse, Guanacaste National Park is primarily arid, with an annual average of 118 inches of rainfall (thanks mainly to the park's highland cloud forests). High winds and increasing rain characterize the months of January, February, and March. Average highs are between 19 and 28 degrees Celsius (66-83 F).

This national park has two distinct seasons: a wet one from May to December and a dry one from January to April. Even during the wet season, rainfall is scarce at some locations. The park's pathways are highly primitive, making them even more challenging to walk when muddy; thus, arranging a visit in the dry season is recommended.

Related: Experience Famous Waterfalls And Native Species In Costa Rica’s Central Highlands

Major Cities Around Guanacaste National Park

The strategic location of San Jose, the country's capital, allows visitors to reach any part of the country quickly. The city is well-known for its commitment to sustainability and is one of Latin America's safest large cities. Gallo pinto, a bean and rice dish, is famous in San Jose and Costa Rica. Visitors can also spend the day at San Jose's National Theater (or Teatro Nacional Costa Rica), one of the city's most prestigious structures.

La Cruz, situated in a prime location, just on the border with Nicaragua, has a population of approximately 10,000 and is favored by surfers and environment enthusiasts seeking access to the country's less crowded locations. The proximity of Santa Rosa National Park and the Pacific Ocean contributes to the city's growth. There are now many more hotels, hostels, restaurants, and shops to accommodate the expanding number of tourists.

  • How to arrive at Guanacaste National Park from San Jose: There are 168 kilometers between San José and Guanacaste National Park. The fastest method to reach Guanacaste National Park from San José is by bus via Liberia, which costs €10 and takes two h 57m. Alternatively, you can fly for between €95 and €1100 and 3 hours. The fastest option is the 45-minute direct trip from San Jose Airport to Liberia Airport. See rome2rio.com
  • Where to stay near Guanacaste National Park: Rinconcito Lodge is a hotel between the volcanoes Rincon de la Vieja and Miravalles, a short distance from Daniel Oduber Airport. This rustic lodging with a view of the mountains provides guests with the most pleasant climate in Guanacaste. Find out more here.