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Barra Honda National Park - Hiking Nicoya - Costa Rica

Parque Nacional Barra Honda

Located 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) northwest of noisy Nicoya is the oasis of calm and tranquillity that is Barra Honda National Park. Founded in 1974, the park actually covers a 2295-hectare (5671 acres) cave system of over 40 caves, less than half of which have ever actually been explored. Only two, Terciopelo and Cuevita, are open to the public.

It is estimated that the limestone caves are over 70 million years old, ranging in depth from just a couple of feet to over 240 meters (787.4 ft) below ground. Rainfall has steadily eroded them over the centuries, shaping an impressive maze of underground stalactites and stalagmites that make for striking, but slightly dangerous, exploring. Tours require not one but two local guides (one to accompany the group and one to keep watch) and involve an underground descent of about 17 meters (55.8 ft) via a metal ladder. This is not an excursion for the faint hearted! Other opportunities to explore the area are part of special tours to the entrance of another cave, Pozo Hediondo, where visitors can observe a huge population of bats fleeing the cave at dusk to hunt for food.

However, sight seeing in the park does not stop at ground level. Barra Honda is home to some of the last remaining tropical dry forest in the world, and the vegetation is a hotbed of local wildlife and challenging hiking trails. Over 46 different species have been officially spotted within the grounds, and you can expect to see everything from howler monkeys, deer and racoons to various types of exotic butterfly. If planning on hiking then be sure to alert the rangers at the front gate and pick up a map, as it is easy to get lost in the vast wilderness. Environmentally-conscious travelers might be interested to know that the park is the subject of continuous exploration and conservation, and that there are several volunteering projects here.

Barra Honda is open all year round from 8 a.m. to dusk, though occasionally the caves might be closed during the rainy season depending on the weather. The entrance fee is $7. Camping is possible in the area opposite the rangers’ station for a few dollars a night, but if you don’t have the proper equipment then the nearby hotel Las Cavernas, situated on the main road leading to the park, offers spic-and-span cabin-style rooms and a beautiful outdoor pool for just a little over $40 per night. There is also a Bar and Restaurant on-site, serving up local dishes such as gallo pinto and casados for around $7-15. Casa Mayita Restaurant, on the same road, serves up similar fare for around the same price and is set in beautiful surroundings.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

Hiking Types:
National park

Price Description: $7

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:8:00 am

Open Hours to:5:00 pm

Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.

You Need to Bring: Sensible footwear and water.

Currencies accepted
US dollar, Costa Rican colón

Contact Information:
Phone: 2659-1551

By Viva User


12 Nov 2010

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