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CARARA NATIONAL PARK

COSTA RICA
LOCALE

Area (ha):5,242
# Species:240
# Excl Vagrants:239
# Endemics:0
# Near Endemics:13
Species/100 ha:4.6
Habitat: Lowland Dry Forest

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Carara National Park is considered by many to be one of the best birding locations in Costa Rica. It consists of transitional lowland forest where the more humid forests of the southern Pacific coast blend and overlap with the drier forests of the northern Pacific coast. The ranges of many birds found to the north extend to Carara and not much beyond. The same is true of many birds found to the south. The result is a unique zone of overlap where both northern and southern species can be seen in the same place.

Two major trails provide access to the reserve. The Headquarters Trail winds through mature forest, while the Laguna Meandrica Trail goes through more open secondary forest. Hence, quite different birds can be seen along each trail. In addition to the trail network, the nearby Rio Tarcoles offers wonderful opportunities for seeing more aquatic birds as well as crocodiles that bask on the river banks. Scarlet Macaws are reliably seen from the Rio Tarcoles bridge in early morning and late afternoon. Boat trips near the Rio Tarcoles provide access to mangroves where specialty birds of that habitat can be seen. Finally, the beaches of the Pacific Ocean can be reached not far south of Carara near the town of Jaco, affording opportunities for seeing in-shore marine birds and shorebirds.

LOCATION OF SITE

Carara National Park is located about 2 hours southwest of San Jose not far from the Pacific Ocean and just south of the Tarcoles River. The road to Carara is paved and well-maintained, unlike many secondary roads in Costa Rica. It descends sharply from the Central Plateau of Costa Rica nearly to sea level.

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