There are many day trips from San JosÃ© when you are looking for a break to escape the daily grind of the urban jungle and venture into the tranquility of nature. Just an hour and a half away, 35 km southeast of San Jose, is Tanpati National Park, the perfect setting for recharging your batteries and immersing yourself in the simplicity of nature.
Tanpati National Park is located in the south-central region of Costa Rica in the Orosi Valley and Talamancan Mountain Range, protecting 58,495 acres. Established in 1982, it was declared La Amistad Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and in 1983 a Natural World Heritage Site. One of the hallmarks of this biologically diverse region is the amount of rainfall it receives, located in one of the rainiest places in all of Costa Rica, especially during the months of May to October.
The important El Rio de Grande runs through Tanpati National Park, providing drinking water to some areas and contributing to the hydroelectric system. These rains feed and fill the 150 flowing rivers and streams, creating the enchanting sounds of nature’s wonderland. That being said, the meaning of Tanpati Park’s name is aptly fitting, torrent from the sky, as the waters swell along the banks of the river.
What comes with this, however, is the nourishment that the rains provide for the two main forest types in the park, the lowland tropical rainforest and the premontane rainforest. These living areas are made up of oaks, magnolias, Panama, bromeliads and the poor man’s beautiful umbrellas that are perfect for this rainforest. Rain brings forests to life by cleaning your airways with the rich scents of nature, breathing in the freshness. All shades of green decorate the forests with mosses, ferns, lichens and orchids growing wildly everywhere with 1,229 species of plants.
There are several hiking trails to explore the thick forests and the most popular is the Oropendola trail with all the right places along the river to stop and relax enjoying the serenity with a picnic. Tanpati National Park allows you to enter with food, but not with grills or charcoal, just remember there is no litter or smoking. It’s a shorter trail of just over a mile so it’s great for all family members as it’s mostly flat and easy to hike depending on the amount of rain.
Waterfall and Kettle Trail is a trail that splits in two, giving you the option to choose to venture down to the river or explore the view of a distant waterfall. Either road you decide to take will lead you into the park’s Flora and Fauna Sanctuary. The elusive and beautifully colored quetzal has a nesting site in the park and you may be lucky enough to spot this majestic bird. Parrots, yigÃ¼irros, doves, hawks and hawks fly safely inside, and remarkably fast and surprisingly breathtaking hummingbirds sneak everywhere.
One of the more difficult hiking trails, if you want to challenge yourself, is the Fallen Trees Trail with steep climbs throughout its 2 miles. Whatever lush rainforest trail you venture on, listen in silence to some of the 45 different species of mammals protected in the park. Rabbits, deer and coatis can be seen in the trees, white-faced capuchin monkeys playing in the branches as well as kinkajous above. Costa Rica’s endangered and unique Baird’s Tapir resides indoors as well as the larger cats of pumas and jaguars.
Before you set off, take a moment to admire all the lush greenery that blooms profusely in this remarkable country at the Waterfall Lookout. You will remember what Costa Rica is made of, rich nature and decorated mountains in unspoiled forests which are recognized and appreciated for their importance to this special country. In the distance, you will see the waterfall which springs and flows freely from the immense wall of greenery, a real postcard before your eyes.
With the humid weather conditions in this area, be sure to bring a raincoat and warm clothes, especially if you end up raining and need to warm up afterwards. Temperatures are a bit cooler in this region, especially as clouds roll and move through the forests. You may want light pants or at least a long sleeve shirt. Good shoes are needed to walk the terrain as it can sometimes get slippery and muddy from the rains and affect the ease of the paths.
Park hours and cost
You can come and relax in this park from Monday to Sunday all week including public holidays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 3 p.m. being the last hour of entry. There is a ranger station with a clear trail map. It is important to note that the park does not allow pets to come explore with you or bathe in streams or rivers.
It’s $ 10 for non-residents 13 and over and only $ 5 for children 2 to 12. Toddlers 2 and under are free to enter. Residents 13 and over are 800 colones and if over 65 are free to enter and experience the peace that reigns in this densely wooded park.
As you enter Tanpati National Park, you instantly breathe in the pure, raw nature of the forests that engulf you as you venture out. The music of the streams lulls you as the calm passes through you like the stream itself. As the rain brews, dreamlike clouds haunt the trails that haunt you around you as wildlife spies on you as you eagerly scan the dense flora in hopes of spotting their vantage point. Your visit will leave your body and mind with a sense of peace ready to take on whatever life awaits.