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Tapantí–Macizo de la Muerte National Park
Destination content © Christopher P. Baker, used from Moon Handbooks Costa Rica, 5th edition.

Parque Nacional Tapantí–Macizo de la Muerte (tel. 506/200-0090 or 506/551-2970, fax 506/771-3297,, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $6), 27 kilometers southeast of Cartago, sits astride the northern slopes of the Cordillera Talamanca, which boasts more rain and cloud cover than any other region in the country. Average rainfall for the Orosi region is 324 centimeters; Tapantí gets much more—almost 800 centimeters of rain on the mid-elevation peaks. February, March, and April are the driest months. The many fast-flowing rivers and streams are excellent for fishing, permitted in designated areas April–October.

The 58,328-hectare park, at the headwaters of the Río Reventazón, climbs from 1,200 to 2,560 meters above sea level (it extends all the way up to Cerro de la Muerte) and forms a habitat for resplendent quetzals (often seen on the western slopes near the ranger station) and more than 260 other bird species, plus mammals such as river otters, tapirs, jaguars, ocelots, jaguarundis, howler monkeys, silky anteaters, and multitudinous snakes, frogs, and toads.

The park possesses several life zones, from lower montane rainforest to montane dwarf forest. Terrain is steep and rugged. Well-marked trails begin near the park entrance ranger station, which has a small nature display. Sendero Oropendola, which begins about 800 meters from the ranger station, leads to a deep pool by the Río Macho. There’s a vista point—a short trail leads from here to a waterfall viewpoint—about four kilometers along. A trailhead opposite the beginning of the Oropendola Trail leads into the mountains. Other trails include Sendero Arboles Caidos (Fallen Trees Trail) and Sendero La Catarata (Waterfall Trail), which leads to a waterfall.

Getting There A bus departs Cartago at 6:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and travels via Orosi as far as Purisil, five kilometers from the park entrance (later buses go only as far as Río Macho, 9 km from Tapantí). You can hike or take a jeep-taxi from Orosi ($10 each way) or Purisil ($5 each way).

This is an small excerpt from Moon Handbooks Costa Rica. CentralAmerica.Com highly recommends that you enhance your vacation by taking a copy of Moon's comprehensive Handbook with you. For more information visit the Moon Handbooks page on this site.

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