The Cacyra National Wildlife Refuge was created on 1995 as a private refuge to protect tropical forest areas near the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Also, this refuge was created in order to serve as a biological corridor between the Carara Biological Reserve, now the Carara National Park, and the Turrubares Hills Protected Area. That is why its biodiversity is very similar that the one you can find in Carara National Park.
Almost the entire area of the refuge is covered by secondary growth rain forests, so they are very common pioneer species such as balsa (Ochroma pyramidale), the guarumo (Cecropia sp), the guácimo (Guazuma ulmifolia) and buzzard (Schyzolobium parahyba), among others, as the life zone is tropical wet forest, with transition to premontane forest. The climate is humid, very hot, with a long dry season. The grounds are covered in tacotales and secondary forests that were transferred by IDA to be devoted to shaping the biological corridor.
Other nearby Costa Rica National Parks includes the Fernando Castro Cervantes Wildlife Refuge and the Carara National Park. There are no public park facilities at this wildlife refuge.
Getting to Cacyra Wildlife Refuge:
From downtown San Jose takes about 1 hour, take the Prospero Fernandez Highway, which starts at the National Gymnasium in La Sabana. From there continue directly through the towns of Escazu, Santa Ana, Ciudad Colon and Puriscal. From Puriscal is about 40 minutes to reach San Juan de Mata de Turrubares. Turrubares also has other alternative routes such as the canton of Orotina southwest and the canton of Atenas southeast.
From Puntarenas downtown, Caldera or Jaco, you should reach Orotina. Of there are 7 km, approximately 15 minutes.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – Quepos by Puriscal which takes about 2 hours, (Transportes Delio Morales, 2223-5567). From here you can take taxi to Cacyra Wildlife Refuge.
You can also take a bus from the route San Jose – Puriscal which takes about 1 hour, (Comtrasuli, 2258-3903). From here you can take taxi or take another bus Puriscal – San Juan de Mata, to Cacyra Wildlife Refuge.
For any of the routes we recommend consulting the respective schedules to make connections. Similarly, it is advisable to arrive early to be sure you get a seat.
Location: southeast from Carara National Park, canton: Turrubares, in San Jose province, Costa Rica.
GPS Coordinates: 9°46’9.81″N, 84°31’39.72″W
Size: 37ha (91 acres)
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Telephoe: +(506) 2416-7068
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192
Address map: Click here to view directions from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), Alajuela, Costa Rica TO Turrubares, San Jose, Costa Rica at Google Maps
In 1984 the Costa Rican government declared La Cangreja virgin forest as a protected area (Protected Areas in Costa Rica are areas with special regulation to protect the hydrographic and terrestrial resources and are meant to keep the environment). On June 5th, 2002, the World-Environment-Day, the government declared La Cangreja as a National Park, to protect the last stronghold of primary forest areas in Puriscal, Costa Rica. The preservation of La Cangreja was inspected by the Ecotropica Foundation with a special meaning, not only for the protection of the biodiversity, but also for the profit it involves for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. Thanks to this, the government also enlarged the area up to 2240 hectares; mainly to prize the realized efforts of the Ecotropica Foundation and a big amount of coworkers who helped.
The name La Cangreja refers to the caracteristic shape of the “La Cangreja Hill”, with 1305m high. If you look at this hill from above, it gives the impression of an enormous crab (“cangrejo” in Spanish) of which the ridges leaving from the top seem to be the animal paws.
On the other hand, the Indian history talks about a giant crab, which placed itself on the top of the hill during earthquakes and blocked passage for the villagers who wanted to go to the nearby hamlets. At a certain moment, a brave warrior stood up against the crab and managed to cut off one of the animal paws. For this reason the crab got furious, but finally it surrendered by changing itself into a rock. This is why the highest part of the hill still is rocky.
Now La Cangreja National Park forms a precious heritage for the canton of Puriscal and the entire region. Its administration and protection is by the authority of the MINAE. This obviously doesn’t mean that the local community and municipality not longer take part in the development and protection of the park.
The study of a young American student, Ann-Marie Parsons, and other formal studies, confirmed that La Cangreja contains the last virgin natural areas that exist in the region of Puriscal. The forest is also the most important water supply for nearby communities and serves as well as climate stabilization. The presence of two different life zones, Tropical Humid Forest and Pre-Montane Humid Forest, a varied topography, heavy humidity and more than 160 inches annual precipitation, create an area with extremely diverse flora and fauna.
This area of Costa Rica is of particular interest to biologists. Researchers have already found several new species unique to the area. The site bears a striking resemblance to the forests of the Osa Peninsula, with a marked predominantly South American species. The climate is very humid and hot with a moderate dry season. The dry season runs from December to April and the rainy season from May to November. The precipitation and temperature annual average is 3435 mm and 27°C, respectively.
Preliminary studies until 1993 were identified approximately 800 plant species. However, some of the most diverse groups as ferns, orchids, aroids and bromeliads have been little studied. Several species have been identified endemic or restricted in the country, Plinia puriscalensis Myrtaceae family and Mastatalensis Ayenia Sterculiaceae family, have only has been collected at this site. Some other species like Unonopsis theobromifolia a Anonaceae and Ternstroemia multiovulata, family Theaceae were described for the flora of the country in this area protective, although subsequently been collected in other areas including the Osa Peninsula. In a study on the floristic composition done in 1998 (Acosta, 1998) was achieved identify 193 species of trees, which are distributed in 126 genera and 56 families. Of identified species 84 are new records for this protected area.
It also presents 17 species of timber widely used commercially in Costa Rica, some of which are in danger of extinction like the hide of a bull (Tachigalia versicolor), garlic (Caryocar costaricense), the quira (Caryodaphnopsis burgeri), the IPE (Tabebuia guayacan) rum rum (Astronium graveolens), Nazarene (Peltogyne purpurea), cachimbo (Couratari guianensis), Christopher (Platymiscium pinnatum) and balsam (Myroxylon balsamum).
Among the highlights fauna, white-faced monkey (Cebus capucinus), sloth (Choloepus hoffmanii), armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus), coyote (Canis latrans), raccoon (Procyon lotor), paca (Agouti paca), coati (Nasua narica), hairless fox (Didelphis marsupialis), lion jaguarundi (Herpailuris yaguaroundi) Caucel (Leopardus felis), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and a large number of bat species. The birds that have reported the gallina de monte (Tinamou), the bell bird (Procne tricarunculata), the quióro or Curre black (Ramphastos swainsonii), the Toucanet (Pteroglosus frantzii) and several species of owls.
La Cangreja can be retained by means of a plan of preservation, protection and sustained use, of which the task is the protection of La Cangreja and its buffer zone, by means of long term plans, to preserve the forest and to inspire to a sense of understanding, connection and responsibility with regards to the forest, to the people and to the adjoining communities. Other nearby Costa Rica parks include Fernando Castro Cervantes Wildlife Refuge, Carara National Park and Cacyra Wildlife Refuge.
Getting to La Cangreja National Park:
Take the highway out of San Jose, Costa Rica towards Ciudad Colón and Puriscal (Santiago). From Santiago de Puriscal, you need to follow the old road to Parrita. Turn left, where signposting is indicated. The park is situated in the village of Mastatal, 45 kilometers southeast of Santiago de Puriscal. During the rainseason, this road is only accesible for 4×4 cars. In the dry season you can also reach La Cangreja with other vehicles.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – Quepos by Puriscal which takes about 2 hours, (Transportes Delio Morales, 2223-5567). From here you can take taxi to La Cangreja National Park.
You can also take a bus from the route San Jose – Puriscal which takes about 1 hour, (Comtrasuli, 2258-3903). From here you can take taxi or take another bus Puriscal – Mastatal, which takes about 2 hours to La Cangreja National Park.
From Quepos, you can bus from the route San Jose – Quepos by Puriscal which takes about 2 hours, making the stop at Santa Rosa (Transportes Delio Morales, 2223-5567). Be sure to tell the driver you will get off there, and make sure you are on the bus that goes through Puriscal. From here you can take taxi or take another bus Santa Rosa – Mastatal which takes about 45 minutes to La Cangreja National Park.
For any of the three routes we recommend consulting the respective schedules to make connections. Similarly, it is advisable to arrive early to be sure you get a seat.
Location: Chires district at Puriscal canton, in San Jose Province.
Puriscal GPS Coordinates: 9.847961,-84.309414 (9°50’52.66″N, 84°18’33.89″W)
Size: 2240ha (5533 acres)
Altitude: 350m (1050ft) to 1305m (3915ft)
Entropica Foundation telephone: 2416-6359
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Telephoe: +(506) 2416-7878
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192
Address map: Click here to view directions from Central Park, San Jose, Costa Rica TO Puriscal, San Jose, Costa Rica at Google Maps
The park encompasses what was previously the Los Santos Forest Biological Reserve, which, after the adoption of the constitution, is now the Los Quetzales National Park, which name is precisely because of the quetzal abundance found there. The park was created in July 2005, to promote the conservation of these birds and to protect critical habitat for a number of plants and animals that also inhabit the area. It also has the distinction of being the most recent park included in the extensive system of National Parks of Costa Rica. It is a sanctuary of biodiversity in the massif of Cerro de la Muerte, a whole green treasure located at high altitude along the Talamanca Cordillera.
Most of the park straddles by the Savegre River, which originates in the Cerro de la Muerte and empties into the Pacific Ocean near Manuel Antonio. With an average rainfall ranging between 79cm and 188cm, makes the topography of the park beautiful and full of life.
This new conservation area has seven different heights, so its biological variety is wide. With three tropical forest types and fourteen different ecosystems that form in accordance with elevation, have an enormous wealth of flora, fauna and water resources. That is why Los Quetzales National Park has a lot of oaks, cypress, “aguacatillo”, ferns and plants, such as the well-known Poor man umbrella, besides all kinds of exotic flowers that mark the landscape, adding a little color to the immense green field. There, multicolored moss living with lichen, fungi and small vegetation of moor forest on Cerro las Vueltas, about 3000 meters high. Also, the park has the presence of wetlands and seasonal lakes of glacial origin, which has a filtration of water function into the underground parts, so they are purifying and kind of “sponges” that protect natural flooding.
This rich area has about 25 endemic species and some 116 species of mammals such as tapirs, raccoons, armadillos, sloths, peccaries, pumas, coatis, coyotes, porcupines, foxes and cacomistle (relative of the raccoon), among others . In rivers you can find otters and trout. Visitors can also find snakes like the Costa Rican Coralsnake, the Fer-de-lance and the Side-striped Palm-pitviper.
It also has more than 14 endemic birds, so it’s no wonder that bird watching is very popular here, offering visitors the chance to say “I’m sure to see one”-referring to any bird belonging to the ecosystem, including species that are as ostentatious as the quetzal, which is abundant in this area. The quetzal (Pharomachrus moccino) lives in wet montane forests where large amount of epiphytes can be found. It breeds in the cloud forests and feeds of “Aguacatillo”, among others. In Costa Rica is located in the mountains of Tilarán, Central Volcanic and Talamanca, from 1200 meters to 3000 meters. Although the bird is known to be difficult to observe and capricious, park officials say that the quetzal is easier to find here than in the cloud forests of Monteverde and Santa Elena, which are located to the north, since in the park communities come to be seen up to seven individuals together, a very special show, because their behavior is solitary or in pairs. Other bird species that reside in the park include trogones, tanagers, and hummingbirds.
Los Quetzales National Park, located 47 southeast of San Jose, is easily accessible from Manuel Antonio. From Jaco it takes about two hours. The park entrance is on the Cerro de la Muerte, just before the turnoff to San Gerardo de Dota. It is located between Providence and San Gerardo de Dota, on the Talamanca Cordillera and Savegre River Basin.
Getting to Los Quetzales National Park:
From San José take the road to Cartago and take the exit for the Cerro de la Muerte, on the Interamerican Highway, until you reach kilometer 80 or so. Los Quetzales National Park entrance is on your right on the main road.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – San Isidro de El General – Perez Zeledon which takes about 2 hours, making the stop at Macho Gaf Restaurant (MUSOC, 2222-2422 / TRACOPA, 2222-26-66). From here you can take taxi to Los Quetzales National Park.
Location: in Cerro de la Muerte, near the exit to San Gerardo de Dota, in San José, Costa Rica.
GPS Coordinates: 9.615685,-83.818289 (9°36’56.46″N, 83°49’05.84″W)
Size: 5000 ha (12,355 acres)
Altitude: from 2000 up to 3000 meters.
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Telephone: +(506) 2416-7878
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192
Address map: Click here to view directions from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), Alajuela, Costa Rica TO Empalme, Cartago, Costa Rica at Google Maps