This Lush National Park Full Of Hiking Trails And Wildlife May Be Costa Rica's Most Underrated

Embarking on a journey through Costa Rica is an action-packed, spellbinding experience, unveiling some of Earth's most exquisite tropical landscapes. Tucked away in the heart of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, a mere 45 minutes from the capital, San Jose, lies a hidden gem, Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is no ordinary park; it's a sanctuary nestled amidst the lush canopies of cloud forests and the vibrant biodiversity of lower-altitude rainforests, all at the base of the majestic mountains. The park's highest peak, the Barva Volcano, stands tall at over 9,500 feet, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding wilderness.


The road to Braulio Carrillo National Park from San Jose is a thrilling and scenic journey that commences the experience unfolding in front of you as you leave the exhilarating Zurquí tunnel behind. This tunnel serves as a portal to a captivating rainforest that spans a staggering 117,300 acres, making it one of Costa Rica's largest and steepest protected areas. The serpentine-like highway that winds through the vast park offers a tantalizing glimpse into the untamed jungle beyond the asphalt. Vehicles inch forward like a child navigating a maze as passengers marvel at the untouched, emerald wilderness. With that first trembling breath of excitement, the adventure is just beginning. 

Captivating hiking trails at Braulio Carrillo National Park

There are a handful of trails that wind their way through the park. Some standouts include the Stag Horn Path, the Copey Lagoon Trail, the Vara Blanca Lookout Path, and the Barva Lagoon Path. Within the boundaries of this urethral paradise, a visitor might choose to take one of the shorter trails to one of the phenomenal waterfalls or even go for the long haul on a difficult four-day hike from the Puesto Barva Station to La Selva and explore the extinct Barva Volcano's crater. 


The moderately challenging 3.6-mile Barva Volcano Trail, which takes a little under two hours to navigate to a lake in the middle of the Barva Volcano, is a fan favorite, with 4.6 stars on AllTrails. It is a popular birding and sightseeing trail, so you may see more people enjoying it than some of the other trails.

Another fantastic trail is the Zurqui Trail, which is a bit more challenging in its 7-mile loop that takes nearly three hours to complete. For family exploration, the Las Palma is a short trail great for smaller children. Many of the trails are moderately difficult, and some are perfect for families vacationing in Costa Rica, though it's advised to do some research on each before setting forth and to prepare for unexpected weather changes. 


Meet some of the amazing inhabitants of the rainforest

When visiting Braulio Carrillo National Park, it's crucial to embrace the local ethos of respecting and preserving nature. This vast, protected cloud forest and rainforest is a haven for over 515 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, and a myriad of invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. While exploring this park, visitors may see the yellow-eared toucanet, lattice-tailed trogon, bellbird, goldfinch, long-tailed silky-flycatchers, and many more.


What adds to the amazing avian collection is the knowledge that many of the birds stop by on their migration from all over the world. It's also not uncommon to cross paths with various monkeys, such as the howlers and the red or white-faced varieties. Some of the others are the tapir, hive bear, pumas, coyote, jaguar, mountain goat, or the peccary. By leaving no trace behind and respecting the forest and all its inhabitants, we can ensure that future generations can also enjoy the park's rich biodiversity and natural beauty.

Have the experience of a lifetime in Costa Rica

Along with hiking and wildlife-watching, visitors can head over to the heart-pounding action side of the rugged and magical park. They may find themselves flying high through the canopy by zipline via Rainforest Adventures while taking in the experience. This tour operator offers full-day or partial-day tour packages. If speed isn't in the cards while in the jungle, visitors can also enjoy the sights and sounds from a few feet to 170 feet above the ground as they slowly cruise the forest by way of a family-friendly aerial tram.


Take a guided tour or visit educational sites like La Selva Research Station; there are plenty of activities catering to the needs of different types of visitors. The photo opportunities just can't be passed up. Whether you prefer peaceful quests or adrenaline-rushing activities, Braulio Carrillo National Park has precisely the perfect medicine for what ails your heart and soul.