Within just a twenty minutes drive from the capital city of San Jose, birders and photographers can be in a quarter million acres of lush tropical rainforest.
Picture a topography of rugged cliffs, raging rivers, dense primary jungles and habitats that range from Cloud Forests to tropical lowland rainforest.
The sheer size of the park allows it to support healthy populations of not just birds, reptiles and amphibians, but also large mammals like Tapirs, Jaguars, Pumas, and Ocelots.
Braulio is one of the top places in the country to spot eagles and is a virtual paradise for wild orchids and amazing jungle flora.
The park is located between the Irazu and Barva Volcanoes and hosts 5%+ of all of the species of all the birds of the world.
It took Costa Rica 15 years to build a 20 mile road through the park (including bridges and tunnels). The drive park is spectacular. There are stunning views of the forest canopy, waterfalls, and beautiful rivers.
Guests should always visit Braulio Carrillo with a knowledgeable guide. There are only two trails open to the public because of impenetrable jungle. There are parts of Braulio Carrillo never seen by modern man.
Getting to Braulio Carrillo:
The easiest route is from San Jose on Route 32, towards the Caribbean coast. Depending on what part of San Jose you are traveling from, you can be in Braulio within about twenty minutes.
There are two entrances to Braulio but the entrance at the Quebrada Gonzalez Ranger Station has the best access and is the easiest to reach.
Visitors can also access Braulio from Barva Volcano National Park in the small town of Sacramento, about one hour from San Jose.
Birding and Hiking in Braulio Carrillo:
From the Quebrada Gonzalez Ranger Station visitors can access three different trails. All of the trails could be hiked in one day.
If you have to choose, we recommend either Las Palmas or Ceibo trails.
Las Palmas trail is just under two kilometers long. It continues at a minor incline, up steps and through the forest. It then loops around and back to the parking area of the ranger station. There are some slippery spots (especially if it’s raining) and uneven footing but the birding can be fantastic. If bird watchers are lucky, they’ll come across a swarm of army ants here and have the chance to see the antbirds, antpittas, and the very elusive Rufous Vented Ground Cuckoo. This area is incredible for raptors. There is an Ornate Hawk Eagle nest near the park rangers house. There are White Hawks, Black Hawk Eagles, and King Vultures. This is also one of the best places for the Lattice Tailed Trogon. A very difficult bird to see.
El Ceibo trail is across the road from the parking lot, so guests must be extremely careful crossing this very busy highway. This trail is flat at most places and includes some gravel paths and small bridges. The trail crosses several small creeks. It’s an easier walk than Las Palmas as it is just about one kilometer long and it does make a loop back to the ranger station.
There is a second trail that veers off of El Ceibo. It’s called Botarrama Trail. It’s found at about the ½ way point of El Ceibo and it is 2.5 kilometers long. This is the most difficult trail as it has slippery rocks, roots, steep slopes and drop offs, and streams to cross. You’ll want good hiking shoes (water proof) and a walking stick to navigate this trail. On this trail birders will want to watch out for the very difficult Dull Mantled Antbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Middle American Screech Owl, Black-cheeked Wood Quail, and the Snowcap Hummingbird.
Where to stay near Braulio Carillo:
Nestled in the dense folds of the Braulio Carrillo National Forest, this Lodge is a sanctuary of peace and harmony where pure air dense with oxygen renews your body and mind.
Experience and breathe in nature from your comfortably and safely designed rooms for an unmatched rest. Feel part of this privilege called rainforest and renew your energy under its spell.
Each room sits within the rainforest. Guests can enjoy the terrace, comfortable bed, private bathroom with hot water, fan, WiFi, coffee maker, and umbrellas and flashlights provided for your convenience.
La Selva Biological Station:
For guests who are not concerned with hotel amenities and truly want to stay immersed in tropical rainforest, La Selva Biological Station is the best place to stay.
The lodge is made up of very simple cabins, and a couple houses. Each has hot water, private bathrooms, and fans, but the accommodations are rustic.
The advantage to being at the station is that it’s a true working biological station so guests will encounter students and scientists working on projects and studies. It’s fun and interesting to interact with other guests at La Selva.
For birding and photography, there are lovely gardens and 61 kilometers of trails to explore. Many trails are paved making the wheelchair accessible as well. On a good day, birders can expect more than 100 species of birds at the reserve of La Selva.
Rustic comfort in the middle of a fascinating rainforest setting, this is Tirimbina Lodge.
The sustainably managed Tirimbina Lodge borders their private Tirimbina nature reserve – a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers, and a highly respected site for scientific research.
The lodge and its rainforest reserve straddle the beautiful Sarapiquí River. The lodge area connects to the reserve on the other side of the river by a hanging bridge, which monkeys also use! Here you can experience the vibrant jungle and its abundant wildlife with all of your senses.
Exciting adventures, unforgettable impressions, new scents and sounds, are all right at your doorstep. Visitors won’t know where to point their cameras first.
Simple yet cozy and comfortable guest rooms are located in a long building at ground level, they are surrounded by rainforest and an impressive variety of tropical flowers.
The restaurant is decorated in traditional style, amid abundant tropical vegetation that attracts colorful birds and butterflies.
A library and a souvenir shop are at guests’ disposal.
The lodge has been awarded the maximum level of “5 Leaves” for the Certificate for Sustainable Tourism in Costa Rica, due to its use of sustainable practices like solar energy.
Safety at Braulio Carrillo:
Visitors to Braulio Carrillo should be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Wear good sturdy hiking shoes, carry a generous supply of water, hat, rain poncho and insect repellent.
Always stay on the marked trails, never venture off the trails, it is not safe.
Be sure to carry a trail map and we highly recommend you take a knowledgeable naturalist guide with you on our visit.
Braulio is one of the most beautiful places in Costa Rica, it is pristine, and almost untouched, giving it an air of magic and other worldliness. It is an amazing place to visit, but a place that demands our respect and attention at all times.
Target species for Braulio Carrillo:
Inhabitants include more than 500 species of birds including Ocellated Antbird, Dull-mantled Antbird, Spotted Antbird, Zeledon’s Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, Tawny-capped Euphonia, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Ashy-throated Chlorospingus, Silver-throated Tanager, Tawny-crested Tanager, Black-and-yellow Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, the rare Sharpbill, Spotted Barbtail, White-crowned Manakin, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Green Hermit, Lanceolated Monklet, White-fronted Nunbird, Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo, Lattice-tailed Trogon, Black-crowned Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Black-eared Wood-Quail, White-whiskered Puffbird, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Solitary Eagle and King Vulture.
There is also a great selection of hummingbirds including the Bronze tailed plumeleteer, sometimes the rare Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Black-crested Coquette, White-necked Jacobin and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, the Snowcap, Brown Violetear, and the Violet Crowned Woodnymph.
If you are thinking about a visit to Costa Rica and would like to experience Braulio Carillo National Park, contact us by – clicking here –. We will help you create an amazing trip plan focused on bird watching, photography, or both. We are looking forward to hearing from you, let’s get started, click here.
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Costa Rica Focus is a birding tour company that offers customized Costa Rica birdwatching tours for individuals or groups of people and guided by a knowledgeable birding expert who will help you spot and learn about the beauty of the birds of Costa Rica. Let’s talk about your Costa Rica birding vacation!