Costa Rica is well know as a Eco-Friendy Country right? Well it does have over 23% of its total terrotory under Conservation i am very proud to mention. Near Junquillal Beach in the Guanacaste Area there are three main conservation areas, Guanacaste Conservation Area, Arenal Tempisque Conservation Area and the Tempisque Conservation Area, between the three there are over 40 National Parks and Wild Life Refuges. I highly recommend you to visit at least one of them. Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, Tenorio Volcano National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Palo Verde National Park and Barra Onda National Park are among the top destination relatively close to Junquilla Beach (around 1,5 hour drive).
In all the National Parks you will find hicking treks ranging from begginer to pro-adventure level all sorunded by exotic wildlife, in the Guanacaste National Parks you will be able to see tropical dry forest and rainny and cloudy forest, mangrooves and other ecosystems.
This has been to insure the biodiversity of the Country for future Generations . The story of this marvelous fact begins in 1828, when our Country obtained its independence. It was at this time that all the municipalities of Costa Rica where responsable to ´´Watch over the Mountains and Plaintations of the common man´´ After this the same institutions gave the order to plant trees and protect the quality of the water and its natural springs.
All visitors to Junquillal have several spectacular options to visit National Parks, Forrest Reserves and Protected Areas very near by. Ranging from intense Eco-adventure turisim to everlasting family moments, any one has something that can only be found here. Lets have a look at the highlights of what the Protected Areas in the area have to offer, starting off with the ones that have Volcanos. I must note that the ones I am specifing here are the places you can visit in a day or less comfortably. There are other Parks all over Costa Rica, all very diffent and all have left me in awe. If you have the time, money and motivation....you can be anywhere in less than a day.
There is a reason i am putting this place first. I have been visiting this Park frecuently for 17 years. I cant get enough of the place, it keeps getting more and more beatiful and inspiring every time i go. This place has it all, close contact with mother earth at its best. Here you can take a very nice and easy ´´Sendero´´ or Hiking path where you will see up close and personal just how alive and active the ground underneath your feet really is. This is a great place to take the family to bond with nature, where Spider and Howler Monkeys and other small mamals frecuentlye seen as well a huge variety of Migratory Birds that like to rest during their journeys north and south. Waterfalls can be seen year round as well as the bubbling mud pools. If you think you are hardcore (like i foolishily thought i was until just recently) you can take the trek up to the active crater which is at 2300 meter above sea level (picture on the left) . The view from up there is ranked in the top 5 most beatiful things i have seen in my life.
This park is located in the Arenal Tilaran Conservation Area. The main atraction of the National Park is its volcano and the Blue River waterfall. The Tenorio Volcano was added as part of the National Park in 1995. There are four volcanic peaks and two craters. Tenorio reaches a maximum height of 1,913 meters above sea level. Inside this protected area you will marvel at the Rio Celeste which is turned literally blue due to the release of Sulfor from the volcano and Rain Fall of Calcium Carbonate. Thermal springs and small geysers litter the area as do Waterfalls, Lagoons and rivers, there are many panoramic views. The upper area of the park is dominated by primary Cloud Forrest, while the lower regions are carpeted with Rain Forrest. At the most elevated areas of the park you will experience the Cloud Forest, while at the bottom the Classic Tropic Rain Forrest is busting with floura and Fauna. If you are lucky...or unlucky however it may go, you might get a peak of the rarely seen Puma. The undisputed king of this territory.
Do you like to surf??? Do you like flawless hollow cristal green-blue cylinders? If you do... go ahead and mark you calender for your visit to the Santa Rosa National Park, home of the infamous Witches Rock. Also home of the Battle of Santa Rosa and the emblematic Casona Building. On March 20, 1856, the invaiding filibusters forces from the US, with William Walker at the head, were housed in the main farm building at the Casona. On this day Costa Rican forces reached this point, The ensuing battle lasted all of 20 minutes with the national militia victorious in ousting the invaders.There are great paths with great look-out spots, while in Santa Rosa you are in the Tropical Dry Forrest, very diferent from what you encounter the mountain areas. Here if you did not know any better, you would think you are smack deep in the middle of the African Sabana. The only thing missing are Rhinoceroses. Santa Rosa boast a very large population of deer and can be seen very close to camp sites. Other facinating animals you can see are the Tapir, Coatis, Wild Boar, Massive Iguanas, several species of Jungle Felines, as well and an amazing number of Artropods and Reptiles.
There are over 800 Species of birds that can be observed in Costa Rica during the year, of which more than 600 are Migratory. Flocks of birds travelling either North or South, depending on the season, meet on this perfectly conditioned rest spot. This place is perfect for some the the biggest bird concentrations in America to rest, relax and get a bite to eat. It is recognized as a important wintering ground to migrant North American waterfowl. Some of the birds that can be spotted frecuently are Wood Storks, the only Pacific Scarlet Macaw Population, Roseate Spoonbills, Jabirus, Jesus Birds, Herons and many many others.
Palo Verde Is a National Park, part of the Tempisque Conservation Area, that contains much of the area of the valley of the Tempisque River and covers an area of 45,492 acres in Guanacaste Province, The surrounding area consists mostly of tropical dry forests, and the Park concentrates on conserving vital floodplain, marshes, limestone ridges, and seasonal pools than are esential for perserving the ecosystem and bio-diveristy that exists in this special place.
The park portects forested areas as well as an extensive marshland between the Tempisque and Bebedero rivers of Guanacaste. Here you will see a diverse network of habitats located in the heart of the Tempisque basin. very near the mouth of the mighty Rio Tempisque River. Also in this park you can enjoy hiking trails with such names as Las Calizas Trail, El Mapache, El Manigordo and La Venada Trail and spectacular scenic lookout points overlooking the tropical dry forest. This type of Forrest is unlike you have never seen and is one of the very few left in the world today.
Now i will give you the heads up on the best way to fully enjoy all that this great place has to offer. There is no better way to get up close and deep into the habitat than by slowly crusing down the flooded marshlands by boat. Some binoculars are a must for me if you decide to visit Palo Verde. Besides all the Birds you can marvel upon, you can be sure that you will also have the pleasure to become aquainted with Basilisks, Massive Iguanas, American Cocodriles, Coatis, Many Deer, Raccons, Capuchino and Howler Monkeys. These last two sneaky fellows are known to jump right into the boat with you an see if you got a little something.. something. Hold on to your hats, wallets and anything editable. They will snatch it!
Nothing is a better example to futher ilustrate the Bio-Diversity and many options that existe around Junquillal Beach than our next destination, Barra Honda National Park. Unlike the Rest of Northern Costa Rica, which is made up of mostly of volcanic stone. The Barra Honda area of the Tempisque Basin, where the Nicoya Peninsula unites with the mainland, has a foundation of limestone. Water has carved a extensive network of caves through the mountains in the park. These caves and waterways are the product of rain filtering through the limestone for over 70 million years.
A prime destination for the special breed of Eco-Turist that enjoys the thrill of decending into the world of eternal Darkness, everlasting echoing water droplets and grotesque shawdow monsters. Yes, i must inform this place is not for everybody, especially if you are clostrofobic. You will need Permission from the Park Authorities, A guide, and full Climging Gear, but once you see the main attaction you will be very pleased. There has been 42 caves discovered by 1960s and 70s. At this time pre-Columbian human remains, artifacts and jewelry were found dated to approximately 300 BC. The caves range from a few feet to over 780 feet and Calcareous formations of the Limestone caverns, as well as The Terraces, Cave Grapes, Soda straws, Roses, Pearls, Needles, Curtains, Stalactites and Stalagmites will tranport you to some planet in another galaxy.
Even Though the Caves at the Park are the main visitor attraction, which are only estimated to be 50% explored, This park also has very well maintained hiking trails. The protected tropical dry forest within its borders is some of the last in the world, and very different from the Cloud and Tropical Rain forrests that have always attracted a great number of ecological tourists to Costa Rica. During any time of the year you have a good chance of spotting Anteaters, kinkajous, howler monkeys, deer, racoons, peccaries, and agoutis.