I can’t believe that I have lived in Paraiso de Cartago for over 7 months now and I hadn’t visited this national park yet! It’s only 10 miles or so from my front door. Granted, it takes quite a while to get there (maybe 30 minutes?) because of the (big surprise) road conditions here.
Tapanti is considered cloud forest and is part of the Talamanca Mountain Range. It’s supposedly not a large refuge, but it sure is a beautiful area and there are reported over 150 rivers within it the park itself, which gives an indication of the area’s wetness. They claim to receive an average of 280 inches of rainfall every year. The rain eventually drains into Lake Cachi, the site of the Cachi Dam and Angostura hydroelectric project.
It has two life zones: a lower mountain rain forest (lower mountain slopes) and pre-montane rain forest (lowlands skirting the lower slopes). The forests are home to forty-five species of mammals, including tapir, paca, red brocket deer, eastern cottontail, kinkajou, raccoon, white-nosed coati, white-faced monkey, mountain hare (conejo de monte), agouti and such cats as ocelot, jaguarundi and tiger cat (an endangered species). You’ll also find some 260 kinds of birds here: Quetzals, sparrow hawks, hawks, goldfinch, doves, hummingbirds, parrots, and falcons, etc.
All together the area is made up of 144,058 acres with the highest point of the park reaching 8,397 feet. It’s been open only 24 years. Tourists have to pay $6, while locals (citizens and residents) pay just under $1 (at 500 colones).
When we were there yesterday there were tons of people around. Of course, it was a holiday. But I understand this park gets a lot of use. It was great to see people hanging around in the many rivers. Another nice feature of the park are the BBQ areas. They are in the forest and are protected from the sun. (But I don’t know about the bugs!)
To reach Tapanti National Park, take the road southeast out of Cartago toward Paraiso, then continue to follow the signs to Orosi (going right when you come to the park in Paraiso). Continue through the town of Orosi and keep on the main road all the way until it ends at the park. There will be some yellow signs for you to follow.
The Biological Station near Tapanti National Park can be reached by continuing through Cartago on the Interamerican Highway. Shortly after you pass the turnoff to Copey de Dota, the road to the Station will be on your left.
The Pittier Ranger Station at Tapanti is open for visitor attention from 5am to 5pm. Hiking trails lead to scenic overlooks and picnic areas.
Oropendula Trail and Pantanoso Trail lead to a swimming area with picnic tables and grills. La Pava Trail takes you to the Salto and Palmitas Waterfalls. Arboles Caidos Trail is a heavily forested nature hike.