Carara National Park: Unconventional Adventures in Costa Rica’s Wilderness

Welcome to Carara National Park, an extraordinary destination where innovative biodiversity thrives amidst a landscape of untamed wilderness. Nestled in the heart of Costa Rica, Carara is a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts seeking unconventional adventures. Join us on a virtual journey as we uncover the wonders of this untapped sanctuary.

What can visitors enjoy here

Carara National Park is a paradise for nature lovers, offering a harmonious blend of ecosystems. The park is renowned for its unique location at the border of the humid rainforests of the South and the dry tropical forests of the North. This convergence creates a diverse habitat that hosts an array of plant and animal species. Go Back to Main Article about Costa Rica National Parks

carara national park costa rica
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) at the carara national park costa rica

As you venture along the park’s well-maintained trails, prepare to encounter a myriad of wildlife, including scarlet macaws, toucans, anteaters, and the elusive, yet iconic, jaguar. Birdwatchers will be enthralled by the countless bird species that call Carara home, including the strikingly colorful resplendent quetzal.

The Tarcoles River, which flows through the park, is famous for its crocodile population. Take a boat tour to observe these ancient reptiles from a safe distance, and keep an eye out for other river-dwelling creatures, such as basilisk lizards and iguanas.


Carara National Park experiences a tropical climate with a wet and a dry season. The dry season, from December to April, offers pleasant weather and is the ideal time for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The wet season, from May to November, brings refreshing rainfall that rejuvenates the lush vegetation and enhances the park’s vibrant greenery.


Carara National Park is situated in the Central Pacific Conservation Area of Costa Rica, near the town of Tarcoles. The park spans an area of approximately 5,200 acres (2,104 hectares) and is easily accessible from both the capital city of San Jose and popular coastal destinations.

How to get there from the International Airports in Alajuela and Liberia:
From Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela, you can reach Carara National Park by renting a car or taking a taxi. The drive takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, offering scenic views of Costa Rica’s landscapes along the way.

If you’re arriving at Liberia International Airport, the park is approximately 3 to 4 hours away by car. Renting a car or hiring a private shuttle service are recommended options to reach Carara.

Directions for Google Maps

Directions for Waze

Park Schedule

Carara National Park is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. It is closed on Mondays for maintenance. The park’s operating hours may vary, so it’s best to check the park’s official website or contact the authorities before planning your visit.


Established in 1978, Carara National Park was created to protect the unique ecosystem that bridges the gap between two distinct regions of Costa Rica. The park’s name is derived from the Huetar indigenous word “Carara,” which translates to “River of Lizards.”

Known restrictions

To ensure the preservation of the park’s delicate ecosystem, visitors are encouraged to follow designated trails and refrain from touching or disturbing any flora or fauna. Camping is allowed only in designated areas, and fires are strictly prohibited.

Recommendations to visit the park

To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Carara National Park, consider the following recommendations:

  • Bring binoculars and a camera to capture the incredible biodiversity and captivating wildlife encounters.
  • Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing and sturdy footwear suitable for hiking and exploring the park’s trails.
  • Engage in a guided tour to enhance your understanding of the park’s ecology, wildlife, and conservation efforts.
  • Respect the park’s rules and regulations to minimize your impact on this precious wilderness.

Embark on a journey to Carara National Park and witness ingenious biodiversity thriving amidst an untamed wilderness. This enchanting sanctuary invites you to forge unforgettable memories and experience unconventional adventures in the heart of Costa Rica’s natural wonders.

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