The world heritage includes three national parks and several smaller protected zones in Central American Costa Rica. It stretches from the Pacific coast over the around 2,000 m high mountains in the interior to the lowlands in the Caribbean. The natural landscapes include coastal waters, islands, sandy beaches and rocky coasts as well as mountain and volcanic landscapes. Check smartercomputing to see Costa Rica Travel Guide.
Guanacaste Sanctuary: Facts
|Official title:||Guanacaste Sanctuary|
|Natural monument:||National parks Rincón de la Vieja, Santa Rosa and Guanacaste as well as the protected area Bahía Junquillal, extension of the National Park Santa Rosa by 158 km², total area: land mass 1 038 km², sea area 430 km², includes Cordillera de Guanacaste and the surrounding plains plus coastal fringes as well as a number of volcanoes like the Rincon de la Vieja|
|Location:||west of the Cordillera de Guanacaste between Bahía de Santa Elena and Gulf of Nicoya, north and southwest of Puntarenas|
|Appointment:||1999, expanded in 2004|
|Meaning:||an important habitat for the preservation of biodiversity and the best preserved tropical dry forest in Central America|
|Flora and fauna:||600 km² of tropical dry forest with 20 different plant communities, mixed forest including Bombacopsis quinatum, Ficus species and Dalbergia retusa, evergreen gallery forest, savannah with Hyparrhenia rufa, mangrove trees; Collared peccary, Central American tapir, white-shouldered capuchin, Geoffrey’s spider monkey, ocelot, species of birds such as jabiru, white ibis, laughing hawk, on the beaches of Nancite and Naranjo up to 250,000 clutches of hybrid, leather, hawksbill and green turtles|
The snake bites the third
The hybrid turtle crawls slowly, almost sedately, called parrot turtle by the locals because of the horny appendage of the upper jaw, on land and pushes their massive shell over the beach. After short movements she takes a few minutes to breathe before she “sighs” and takes another step. Although the sea turtles can weigh up to 40 kilogramsappear unsafe on land, they have to leave their natural element, the open sea, to lay their eggs. The sea creatures cover a good 50 meters before a suitable spot is found to dig a 30 centimeter deep hollow in the sand in which all the eggs are laid. Then sand is thrown onto the nest with the fin-like front legs before the female is dragged back to the sea. In the meantime, nature will continue to take care of the offspring, and after a few weeks the young will hatch. One can only hope for the best for their future: The arrival of the mother animals attracts a number of predators, vultures and cormorants, but also humans, so that of the dozen of young animals only a few reach the sea alive. But once they have survived this dangerous first phase of life, they will return to this beach again and again in the course of their lives to lay eggs. And so this cycle of life will repeat itself again in the Santa Rosa National Park. But how long this will be possible also depends on the fight against the local egg collectors. Like on Ostional Beach, they collect sack by sack full of eggs – up to 2,500 eggs in a sack. The destination of the avid collectors is then the market in San José. There you can get an egg ten times higher than on site.
Ten different landscape and vegetation zones can be found in the Santa Rosa National Park. There are tropical dry forest areas as well as humid tropical rainforests. Mangroves dominate the coasts, while in the inland large areas are covered with savanna grass, interspersed with large populations of deciduous trees. Thousands of hymenoptera – and beetles – as well as roundworm species, plus more than 500 bird species, scientists suspect in the protected area. On top of that, with a little luck and patience, you can spot between 50 and 60 species of bats here. But also iguanas, American crocodiles, howler monkeys, white-lipped peccaries, coyotes and snakes are not uncommon.
Incidentally, no gamekeeper misses the opportunity to warn visitors with a wink and urgent warning of the dangerous poisonous snakes. You should never go through the forest third in a row, because snakes only ever bite the third one. And why? The first only frightens the snake, the second disturbs it permanently and with the third it finally bites. These scaly reptiles, like most mammals, are mostly hidden from visitors. In the dry season, however, you have a better chance of spotting them if they jostle at the sparse watering holes. But then a dusty brown tone covers the parched landscape, while in the rainy season the lush green of the thicket of leaves predominates.
In the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, which extends on a volcanic massif that is still boiling and seething inside, a completely different natural phenomenon can be observed: steaming hot springs, “gurgling” mud holes, geysers rising up. Eruptions, both large and small, are the order of the day. The eponymous volcano, for example, is still active and occasionally erupts – such as in the 1990s or in September 2011. The main tourist attractions with more reliable eruptions are the geysers and mud holes. Vapors are constantly escaping here and there, mud holes spit a stinking, hot liquid from the interior of the earth: a fascinating, if not always completely harmless spectacle.