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South Central Highlands: Talamanca & Chirripo

Talamanca is Costa Rica’s southeastern frontier region. Virtually inaccessible until the late 1970s, Talamanca remains one of the most undiscovered and greenest regions of Costa Rica.  The three indigenous peoples’ reserves in the area are the Talamanca Bribri, Talamanca Cabécar, and Kékoldi which give this region its special culture as a relaxing melting pot of Native American, African-American, and Spanish culture.  Although the impact of tourism has caused a shift away from traditional life for the largely African-American coastal dwellers, the Bribri and Cabécar peoples still maintain many of their customs and ancient beliefs side by side with their jeans and radios.  Formerly the place to come for those who want to rough it, a/c resorts with swimming pools have been steadily moving in but it is still a place for those who really want to see a unique and very natural side of Costa Rica.

Several national parks and reservations are located in the Talamanca mountain range, including Chirripó National Park. The Cordillera de Talamanca and La Amistad National Parks have been designated by UNESCO a World Heritage site and is also the first bi-national biosphere reserve (shared between Costa Rica & Panama).  Here the two parks comprise an amazing 2,400 square km of land.  Most unique to the area is the Quetzal.  Even those who are not avid birdwatchers, are amazed when they get to observe magnificent Quetzal considered one of the most gorgeous birds that inhabits this area year round. With its metallic green plumage, crimson breast and belly and its incredible streamer-like feathers, watching a male Quetzal in its magical fly, is a unique, breathtaking experience. 

Activities Talamanca & Chirripo

Chirripo National Park:  Home to the highest mountain in Costa Rica, the Cerro Chirripo stands a towering 3820 meters above sea level. Remote, wild and scenic, this park presents travelers with a wonderful opportunity to spend a quiet few days away from the more touristy regions of the country. The terrain here is simply breathtaking and offers some incredible panoramic views of the surrounding area and the neighboring La Amistad International Park.  Glacier lakes can be found near Chirripo’s summit, while cloud forests, windswept paramos, fern groves and swamps dominate the rest of the park’s landscape. So far roughly 400 species of birds have been observed in this park, along with several fauna species including the tapir, puma, peccary, jaguar and spider monkey. An added attraction of this beautiful park is a remote section known as the Savannah of the Lions, where one can spot a large population of pumas roaming wild and free.

La Amistad International National Park:  With its area split between the countries of Costa Rica and Panama. With this impressive variety of ecosystems, the national park boasts a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna that showcases Costa Rica's natural beauty.  Travelers who want to experience ultimate eco-tourism during their Costa Rica vacation should definitely make an effort to visit the park, as it encompasses nearly 500,000 acres of the country including the territory shared with Panama; the park totals more than 990,000 acres and was declared a Natural World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983. The protected environments that can be found within La Amistad International Park include cloud forests, tropical lowland rainforests, glacial lakes, alpine grasslands and an oak forest. Overall, it is estimated that two thirds of all the wildlife in Costa Rica can be found at La Amistad International Park including a significant number of representatives of the country's treasured monkey species, the jaguar and the puma. Bird watchers visiting the park will be delighted to know that 500 species of bird reside within the various ecosystems, including the famed resplendent quetzal and nine of the 11 endangered species living throughout the country.  La Amistad International Park, which is mostly unexplored, also features an impressive diversity of plant species, including 1,000 species of fern, 500 types of tree and 130 different orchids.

Los Quetzales National Park:  One of Costa Rica´s newest parks, the 5000-hectare Los Quetzales protects the ancient high altitude oak forests that are home to the amazing Quetzal birds it is named after. The parks 12,350 acres includes three forest zones and 14 eco-systems. Because of the nature of the park, there are no trails, but the stunted vegetation means you won’t get lost. In these ecosystems inhabited by a large number of species of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the Talamanca area. Of the birds, perhaps the most outstanding for its beauty is the Quetzal, a distinctly Mesoamerican species considered “near threatened” by the World Conservation Union. You can also find hummingbirds, goldfinches and others. Mammals will include tapirs, peccaries and pumas.



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