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Carara National Park

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Carara National Park in Costa Rica is a biodiverse sanctuary surrounded by dense rainforests, offering a symphony of green and vibrant nature. The park is home to a kaleidoscope of wildlife, hiking trails, zipline cables, and meandering rivers.

Carara is a playground for adventurers and nature enthusiasts, offering breathtaking vistas and up-close encounters with the natural world. It’s a journey of exploration and wonder, showcasing Costa Rica’s ecological paradise. Explore the enthralling world of Carara with us, where each step reveals a new aspect of the beauty of Costa Rica’s natural world.

Overview of Carara National Park

Carara National Park is a sanctuary for nature lovers and adventurers. Covering around 4,700 hectares, the park serves as a refuge for a wide variety of birds and offers a world of discovery with every turn of the trail. With the only transition forest in the Central Pacific, the Carara National Park—whose name means “River of lizards” in the indigenous Huetar language—offers a diverse range of flora and animals, including species that are typical of both humid and dry forests such as howler monkeys, coatis, hummingbirds and many more.

Carara is also a playground for adventure activities like hiking, zip-lining, and birdwatching tours. The enchanting beauty of Carara’s pristine wilderness is a sight to behold as the sun sets below the horizon.

Location, Hours, and Cost

Carara National Park is located in the Central Pacific region between the provinces of San Jose and Puntarenas, about 75 kilometers (46 miles) from San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. The main entrance is located 2 kilometers (1,2 miles) south of the Río Grande de Tárcoles bridge.

The park is open every day. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May to November and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. from December to April.

Foreign Adults over 12 years old must pay $11.30 to enter while children ranging from 2 to 12 years old only pay $5.65. Children under 2 years old enter free of charge. The only way to purchase tickets is on their website.

Things to Do in Carara National Park

There are several options available to visitors to Carara National Park, enabling them to fully experience the park’s biodiversity and natural splendor. Among the most popular activities are:



This national park is well-known across the globe as a birdwatching destination thanks to its unique species, whose number exceeds 400, specifically the Scarlet Macaw, the second-largest type in Costa Rica. There are birdwatching tours available for those who want to learn more about the incredible birds found in Carara National Park.

If you would like to make the most of your birdwatching experience, we recommend following these tips:

  1. Consider exploring the park during the early morning or late afternoon hours, as this is when birds tend to be most active. Doing so will enhance your opportunities for observing a diverse range of bird species.
  2. Remain calm and patient. Since birds may be elusive, good birdwatching requires both patience and little noise.
  3. Utilize binoculars and a field guide, these resources will help you recognize and view birds up close. You deserve the chance to see these gorgeous birds as close as possible.
  4. Take a tour with a guide. Expert guides may make your trip even more enjoyable by assisting you in finding and identifying birds, so do not miss that opportunity.


ATV Tours

Indulge in the park’s natural beauty and variety of habitats by taking an ATV tour and tearing down the tracks through the thick jungle. Discover hidden jewels and stunning perspectives that are unreachable by foot while you’re riding with the wind in your hair and the spirit of adventure racing through your blood.



Experiencing the natural marvels and the exhilaration of flying is an adventure you won’t want to miss when visiting this national park. With 12 platforms and 10 lines, Carara’s zipline tour delivers a thrilling and varied experience. You will be able to glide through the air, swooping from platform to platform and savoring every thrilling descent’s rush.


River Tours and Wildlife Viewing

One of the biggest concentrations of American crocodiles worldwide may be found in the Tarcoles River, which borders Carara National Park. To get up close and personal with these amazing reptiles and other endemic species including iguanas, waterbirds, and monkeys, visitors can enjoy guided boat trips down the river.


Horseback riding

Setting off on a tranquil and picturesque horseback riding excursion through the captivating scenery of Carara National Park is another activity that awaits you here. Feel free to embrace the saddle and let your sturdy companion lead you on meandering paths that weave through verdant rainforests and across glistening streams.



This park has in store for you an exciting hiking experience through stunning nature, with well-marked trails through lush jungles. Enjoy singing birds, tranquil streams, and elusive wildlife that will transform your day into a magical one.

Hiking trails suit all levels and interests, and expert guides can provide interesting facts about the park’s environment, conservation initiatives, and cultural heritage, making it an unforgettable experience.

Recommended Items to Bring

It’s important to plan ahead when packing for a trip to Carara National Park to have a good time experiencing the park’s many landscapes and participating in its many activities. We suggest you bring the following items:

  • Sturdy hiking shoes to ensure comfort and support while hiking.
  • Lightweight Clothing, ideally with breathable fabrics to stay cool in the park’s warm and humid climate.
  • Rain Gear that will keep you dry in case of sudden downpours.
  • Sun Protection to shield yourself from the sun’s rays with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • Insect Repellent to ward off mosquitoes and bugs, especially during dawn and dusk.
  • A refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your exploration.
  • Snacks to keep your energy levels up.
  • Camera/Binoculars to capture the beauty of the park and observe wildlife from a distance.
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Best Time of Year to Visit

The dry season (December to April) is the ideal time of the year to explore Carara National Park. The weather is usually dry and bright at this time of year, which is perfect for hiking the park’s trails and participating in outdoor activities.

The dry season offers travelers the chance to see a variety of animals and colorful birds in their natural habitat, just be mindful that this is Costa Rica’s busiest travel period. It’s also less likely to experience rain showers and simpler to navigate the park’s trails while visiting Carara during the dry season. It’s crucial to remember that Carara National Park is a tropical rainforest, so you should pack appropriately and be ready for sporadic downpours throughout the year.

Carara National Park serves as an unspoiled haven bursting with biodiversity and breathtaking scenery, inviting explorers to delve into its verdant rainforests and uncover its secrets. The activities you end up doing will certainly enhance your experience, however, the mere fact of visiting this spectacular place will be engraved in your memory, putting a smile on your face.

More magical places to explore in Costa Rica

To make the most of your journey into this ecological paradise and explore more of Costa Rica’s unique places, take a look at some of our most recommended tours Plan your adventure, immerse yourself in nature, and create memories that will last a lifetime with Special Places of Costa Rica.

Other Attractions

After you have visited volcanoes and national parks you may want to observe (or cool off in) some of the many beautiful waterfalls while in Costa Rica. Be sure to view our full list of things to do in Costa Rica to ensure you’re experiencing all of the main attractions while on your vacation.
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