The National Parks of Costa Rica
|JUAN CASTRO BLANCO NATIONAL PARK
Destination content © Christopher P. Baker, used from Moon Handbooks Costa Rica, 5th edition.
Juan Castro Blanco National Park (Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco), one of Costa Rica's youngest national parks, was created in 1995 to protect the vital watershed on the slopes of Volcán Platanar (2,183 meters). Several endangered species, including the quetzal, curassow, red brocket deer, and black guan exist in the 14,258-hectare park, which is covered in mixed primary forest and clearings in the process of regeneration. Most notable species are lancewoods, oaks and yayo. At higher elevations the vegetation is stunted and, given the moister climate, epiphytes abound.
Bosque de Paz Rain/Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a 400-hectare reserve nestled in a reclusive valley west of Bajos del Toro at the foot of Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco. It is a favorite of bird-watchers. The reserve boasts several hiking trails (2-6 km) leading to waterfalls, a botanical garden, hummingbird gardens, and lookout points. The forests are replete with exotic wildlife, including howler, capuchin, and spider monkeys, cats, and--according to the owner--more bird species than anywhere else in the nation, not least quetzals, which hover near the lodge. Two streams tumble through the beautiful gardens.
Bosque de la Paz is not signed from Bajos de Toro. The dirt road leads west from opposite Valle de Truchas, a trout farm at Bajos del Toro that offers fishing on weekends.
About seven km north of Bajo del Toro is a 200-meter waterfall--Catarata del Toro--on the land of James Speight. There are trails; the bottom of the falls is reached by a 500-step staircase! There's also a restaurant.
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