With almost a quarter of the country covered in lush rain forest, and with a reputation as Central America’s adventure capital, Costa Rica is the perfect place for a rain forest canopy tour. Here are your options for canopy tours from the capital city of San Jose.
Braulio Carrillo National Park
Braulio Carrillo National Park, Heredia Province
Divided by one of Costa Rica’s busiest highways, Braulio Carrillo National Park is easy to access. One of the best ways to explore the area is to take the Aerial Tram, which is located on the park’s eastern side. Tram tours take you to three levels of rainforest, from the floor to the canopy, and include hikes as well as stops at a butterfly and hummingbird habitat, a reptile terrarium, and an orchid refuge.
Other tours include a cruise along the Sarapiqui River and a stop at animal sanctuaries in the nearby Black Madero wildlife reserve. To turn up the adventure, zipline over the forest canopy or take a whitewater rafting tour on the Chirripó River, which includes more than 20 class III rapids.
Things To Know Before You Go
Wear proper hiking attire, and bring rain gear; there are often short rain showers, even during the dry season.
Trails can get steep and muddy and are generally poorly maintained; even experienced hikers are advised to go with a guide.
A small entry fee is required.
Restrooms and picnic areas are available at the park’s three ranger stations.
The aerial tram is wheelchair accessible.
How To Get There
Braulio Carrillo National Park is located in Heredia Province, in central Costa Rica, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north of San Jose. The drive—via Route 1 or Route 3 to Route 126—takes about 2 hours. Buses from San Jose’s Gran Terminal del Caribe stop at the Carrillo/Quebrada Gonzalez entrance, where there are two trailheads.
When To Get There
Peak season in Costa Rica is from mid-December to April, which is the dry season. During the rainy season, from May through November, the park’s paths may be very muddy, but visitors can see the jungle at its most green and catch local wildlife at its most active.
Covering an expanse of 117,375 acres (47,500 hectares), Braulio Carrillo includes a wide variety of habitats, from rain and cloud forests to river ecosystems. More than 500 species of birds make their home here, including resplendent quetzals and black silky-flycatchers. The park also boasts the largest elevation differential of any of the country’s national parks, from 118 feet (36 meters) in the jungle to 9,514 feet (2,900 meters) at the summit of the Barva Volcano.
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