Carara National Park
Carara National Park
4.5
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
About
Carara National Park is south of the Rio Tarcoles and 15 km north of Jaco Dentral. It boasts of a large population of breeding scarlet macaws, capuchin monkeys, anteaters, parrots, aracaris, kingfishers old growth forest and is a transistional forest supporting both Amazonian and Mesoamerican habitats.
Meets animal welfare guidelines
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  • Peter K
    18 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Nature experience of a lifetime
    WOW! Couldn't get into Manuel Antonio National Park so ended up here. How fortuitous! So few people. Our guide, Antonio, was worth 10 times the price we paid. He found green frogs, a white-winged bat, deer, scarlet macaws. Then we ran around chasing the rustling of monkeys. We saw howler monkeys and about 20 spider monkeys swinging above us with babies. Antonio spent an extra 30 minutes with us so we could also see white-faced monkeys. Got up close with them. A nature experience of a lifetime. If it weren't for Antonio, I probably would have only seen a lot of trees. Best money ever spent.
    Visited June 2023
    Written June 28, 2023
  • Melissa M
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fabulous tour with Jeison Hernandez
    Carara National Park is an awesome place to visit because of its location in a transition zone. The AirBnB host arranged a tour with Jeison Hernandez, Birding and Nature Tours, and he was fabulous. He was very knowledgeable about the park and history, its inhabitants and the trees, plants, fungi, etc. In addition to hearing a streak-chested antpitta bird and a couple of toucans, we saw them, too! We saw a fer-de-lance pit viper snake, a ghost bat, a variety of mushrooms, a number of strangler figs, and much more during the three hour tour. Definitely recommend a tour with Jeison.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written September 3, 2023
  • davidhATX
    Austin, Texas231 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Easy hikes through green rainforest trails on way from San Jose to Puntarenas Province near Dominical
    We enjoyed a couple hours hiking in this CR national park on our way to our primary destination in the Puntarenas Province near Dominical. We stopped as it was on the way from San Jose and were eager to start seeing huge rainforest trees and wildlife. You purchase your tickets online and they are inexpensive, around $10 USD each. The trails were easy walks with some of it paved or at least well marked. There were several platforms for viewing, rotting away and in disrepair, and some muddy trails, but it is a rainforest after all. We saw several poison dart frogs, lizards, iguanas, leaf cutter ants, centipedes and most of the wildlife at the river where we saw several white faced capuchin monkeys and an agouti (looks like a giant gerbil).
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 20, 2023
  • Diana d
    7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing experience!
    Our guide Jeison has given us an unforgetteble day! We got a lot of information about the animals, trees and history of the parc. We walked through the firest for 3 hours and he showed us beautiful and even pretty rare animals
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 19, 2023
  • Ginny R
    Hong Kong, China84 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An uncrowded park brought to life by amazing guide Maurice
    We had an awesome tour with guide Maurice who was recommended by many others on Trip Advisor. We contacted him by whats app a few days in advance and he was very responsive. He met us at the entrance to the park and guided us around. He found so many birds, reptiles and insects that we would never have seen on our own. His binoculars are amazing and he got fantastic photos of everything we saw. He was determined to find a toucan for us and he did. I highly recommend Maurice.
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 11, 2024
  • Chuck G
    10 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Happy Wife, Pura Diva!
    Maurice gave us an especially awesome tour. He loves what he does and it shows through with his enthusiasm in spotting all types of wildlife, from the tiniest frog, centipedes, geckos and leaf cutter ants to hummingbirds, various other birds, and this guy knows his birds. He proves it by referencing page numbers in the Birds of Costa Rica book with memorized page numbers to provide proof of his knowledge. We would have missed so much without Maurice's keen eye. Maurice also has a fabulous sense of humor to keep us amused along the way.
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 19, 2024
  • Spence44
    Tucson, Arizona93 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing wildlife
    Much less crowded than Manuel Antonio National Park, this place is known for birds, but that’s not all. We were fortunate to hire Mauricio as we entered, a well-informed guide with real enthusiasm for the Park and its wild denizens. We would not have seen much aside from greenery without him. He showed us poison dart frogs, a kingfisher, a tarantula taking a nap in a hiding place, a heron, macaws, and many other birds and butterflies, not to mention pointing out various trees and plants as we strolled along. Memorable and fascinating!
    Visited March 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written March 8, 2024
  • Bill
    St. Petersburg, Florida16 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Best guide made a world of difference
    My wife and I saw a good reviews on guide Mauricio +506-8889-6061 . We connected with him and he quickly responded and we set up a meeting the next morning. The park is lush and beautiful and we found Mauricio was well worth the cost. As we walked, he had his binoculars out, searching the branches for small birds and other creatures. When he found one of interest, it would plant this tripod with the telescopic lens and allow us to view the creature up close in addition, I would give them my cell phone and it would take a photo of it which came out. Surprisingly it cleared and vivid. There’s no way we would’ve seen these creatures without his experienced eye. It was an enjoyable three hours, we learned a lot, and got some cool photographs of wildlife .
    Visited June 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 3, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles847 reviews
Excellent
535
Very good
216
Average
67
Poor
22
Terrible
7

worldtraveller10538
Los Angeles, CA81 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
Very poor experience, worst National Park in Costa Rica I have experienced & I have visited 12 up to now, believe me.. Certain Guides (cannot speak for all of them of course), very nasty, provocative & confrontational, commenting on the 2 tier pricing system there designed to rip most visitors off (very few Nationals ever visit) who are unaware of what they are really paying in $... 'If you don't like it, go back to your own country' is what I was aggressively told by a Guide which is basically fighting talk. Then when you bite your tongue & stay in 'their country' paying a rip off fee, nothing to see but trees & leaf cutter ants! Fact.... Zero wildlife evident, (ignore the hype, zero wildlife to see in Carara, certainly on my visit) just totally boring trails you would rather not be wasting your time in & inflated prices. Sadly certain types of Costa Rican's really hate non Costa Rican's & in particular what they term 'Gringo's, suffering from xenophobia. They like the tourist Dollar of course but basically once you've paid it & paid over the top 'go away' & this mentality is very evident at Carara National Park. Stay away please, many better places to go, total waste of time & money. These people need educating, visitors are their lifeblood not their enemies. Sad but true.
Written October 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

chuddington
London38 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2022
Our visit left me with mixed feelings. I tend not to hire guides, as I like to go at my own pace and spot animals myself; however good a guide is, there is a slightly stagey feel to it when everything is pointed out to you. But that means that seeing stuff means going slowly, being very quiet and stopping frequently. So, despite it being a short series of loops we spent 4 hours covering the ground, starting early as recommended by others at 8am to miss the larger groups (these were arriving as we left). At beginning an end you cannot escape the roar of the road which is close by at this point. Half way round these are replaced by the surround sound of cicadas; they make more noise than the trucks. it's an immersive experience and rather wonderful. Yes there are things to see, often small and high up. Yes, the trees are amazing. However, if you are an independant traveller you would see more at some of the other parks in Costa Rica and certainly way fewer of your own species.

The secondary area which is close to the river, is down a precipitous slope into a small car park and was spookily empty. parts of the trail were closed, so we never got to see the lagoon, which I believe may be dry at this time of year. It was fearsomly humid, hot and extremly buggy, but there you go.

The Tarcoles Bridge is a much better bet around 4pm, particularly for birds. Forget the crocs and train your binoculars on to the birdlife. You wont be disappointed and it's free.
Written March 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Curtis S
Kingsport, TN2,621 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
this park was on the way between Monte Verde and Jaco. It is a non-descript little parking lot off the main road. The entry fee is quite reasonable, however, the same cannot be said about the guides hanging around trying to sell their services. We opted to walk through the park on our own and that was just fine. Again, take a picture of the trail map before you go into the park so that you can have a reference of where you are. For the most part the trails were fairly flat, but we ended up doing almost the entire park and there are some steep sections. We did not see much in the way of wildlife, but this was about the only activity on the road between Monte Verde and Jaco. Still, this was far more reasonable than Manuel Antonio National Park. Recommended
Written January 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Beatrix H
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023 • Couples
This national park is such a hidden gem! It was the least busy out of all the national parks we visited but still plenty of wildlife (mostly birds + monkeys).

Initially we had planned to visit it on our own, however upon reading reviews most of them mentioned that with a guide it is significantly better. With very little hope that we'll manage to book the ever so famous Maurice on one day's notice, we still messaged him on whatsapp and got lucky. He had a tour already arranged from 9am and offered us to join, even suggesting a private 2 hour add on if we make it for the park entrance time (7am).

We're so glad we contacted him! He is extremely knowledgeable (25+ years of being a guide!), has a talent at finding even the smallest birds, which one can see very clearly through his telescope. There was an obvious difference between the first 2 hours we had him exclusively vs when another 6 people joined (the originally planned tour): the group moves at a different pace, birds might fly away before everyone looks in the scope etc. Either way, still better than exploring on your own and missing out on the wildlife!

Sharing his contact details below:
Maurice Vasquez
whatsapp: +506 8889-6061
email: mauriciovasquezpizarro@gmail.com
Written April 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Family
We just completed a tour with Maurice Vasquez and would very highly recommend him as your tour guide. He is extremely knowledgable and pointed out all kinds of birds, animals and plants that we would never have seen by ourselves. He took us to two different parts of the park and also to a couple of locations outside the park. We saw about 30 species of birds, including a visit to a macaws nest, owls, trogons, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and dozens more. His love of nature is very evident and he is clearly passionate about giving you the very best nature experience possible. I would definitely recommend you to do yourself a favour and book a tour with Maurice.
Written March 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Alex L
Seattle, WA12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
I would highly recommend this please if you would like to avoid the crowd and see unique birds. We saw so many unique and rare animals including poison dart, scarlet macaw. We highly recommend contacting Franklin and book him as your guide. He would take you to some special places to see crocodiles, kingfishers, and even king vulture, one of the most unique birds in the area. HIs whatsapp is +50683378527. Again, contact franklin if you want the most customized and unique experience!!!
Written January 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cannuckk
Langley, Canada359 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023 • Couples
We had a very enjoyable 4 hour experience in Carara National Park.

Contrary to my normal “modus operandi”, where I would usually convince my wife to tour the park ourselves at our own pace, on the morning of our excursion we What’s App’d Maurice ( clearly the most popular local guide based on TA reviews) to see if he could include us. He was very responsive, and an hour later we were wandering the forest trail ( secondary entrance, on the Tarcoles bridge side) guided by Maurice.
It was nice he was able to loan us a pair of binoculars and a bird guide book, as we didn’t come as well prepared as we should have. We were surprised at the ability for him to use his high powered scope with our smartphone cameras to get some surprisingly good close up photos.
Our tour lasted 2 hours, which was a bit of a surprise to me, given many other reviews suggested a tour duration of 3-4 hours. But, in those two hours we saw much wildlife, and learned much about the parks flora and fauna, so really, hard to complain. Most of what we saw was solely due to Maurice knowing where to look.
As an experiment, after our guided tour we went back to the main entrance and wandered on our own for an hour and a half, to see if you can really get much out of the forest experience on your own. If you are observant you can I think; my wife saw several animals we hadn’t encountered on the guided hike,
So the moral of the story here is, book a guide if you can, you’ll see far more than if you tour on your own. If you choose not too, it can still be a worthwhile visit.
Written February 17, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

A&M Travelers
5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022
Carara National Park is about 1.5 hrs from San Jose [60 minutes from Atenas where we were staying]. The park was empty when we arrived at 9:15A where we were greeted at the park entrance by a friendly person [Jeison] who described what to do at the park and that if we were interested, he could be our tour guide for $20 USD/pp for about a 3.5 hr tour. The park entrance fee is about $10.50US/pp.
Jeison was an absolute must for seeing many different bird species, bats, trees, frogs, insects, etc that we would have missed without his expertise in finding them and his wealth of information describing everything we saw. He carries a 50X viewing scope that allowed us to see animals up close that were 100's of feet away.
I normally would not pay for a tour guide but in this case, the $40 we spent was the best way to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the Costa Rican Transitional Forest. The hike is relatively flat and not strenuous at all. I would highly recommend hiring a tour guide when visiting the park. Jeison Hernandez was really an excellent tour guide - very knowledgeable, knows where to find a variety of animals, speaks excellent English, and was simply a very nice person to spend time with. We would use Jeison again, especially for other areas of Costa Rica. His Whats App is [506]-8382-6788.
Written October 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GaryM
3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023 • Couples
I met Maurice by chance after I had spent a morning in Carara not finding many birds. Even though I was not on his tour, he immediately asked if I had seen the Manakin lek and led me and his party of two down a path to the lek. Hmm! A nice earthy 'dance floor' but no birds. He didn't seem deterred and proceeded to click his fingers. It wasn't long before an Orange - collared Manakin revealed itself and posed beautifully for my camera. Maurice was obviously pleased that we had seen the bird and was so enthusiastic that I immediately arranged a tour with him for a few days later. I didn't regret it! Maurice managed to locate birds and animals with ease, identifying many by call alone. But not satisfied with this, he would then say what page of the Costa Rica Bird guide book that particular bird featured on. The man is a walking encyclopedia! He was very proficient at mimicking many bird calls and as I had told him that I had not seen a Trogon so far on my holiday, he was determined to spot one for me. When he finally heard one, deep in the jungle, he struck up a 'conversation' with it and proceeded to stalk it through the trees and foliage. Even after he spotted it and told me where it was, it still took me a while to realise that the dark shape motionless on a branch was in fact a Black-throated Trogon. I was in awe at Maurice's ability to spot birds in such dim light and in dense jungle.
For Carara, I would highly recommend a guide and you won't get any better than Maurice!
Thank you Maurice!
Written February 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lisau28
Melbourne26 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2023 • Solo
I contacted the infamous Maurice to be our guide given all the great reviews about him. He was very responsive up until we arrived at the park. Suddenly I didn’t hear back from him and instead turns out he had arranged for his friend to act as the guide, along with 3 other couples, some of who were also confused that it was supposed to be Maurice. I was under the impression based upon the other reviews and the price he wanted to charge that he would be a private guide, not simply arranging a part of a group tour ($60 USD for 1 person). The guide I did have was very good, first took us to the town of Tarcoles to look for scarlet macaws, and then took us to the separate section of Carara a few km down the road from the main park for a 1.5 hour walk where we spotted a few birds, lizard, variety of plants, and a macaw nest. Definitely would have been impossible to see anything on our own, our guide could see things that seemed invisible a mile away. All in all it was a good experience but disappointed he didn’t set a clear expectation, would have been better if Maurice had told me from the beginning it was going to be a group tour with a different guide.
Written March 21, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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