Central Valley: Heredia: INBio Park and Barva Volcano
A picturesque province, Heredia is usually called “the flower’s city” and it’s home to some of Costa Rica’s unique colonial architecture and older houses. The province’s lands are agriculturally rich and coffee is the main crop.
The city’s Central Park, a gorgeous cathedral dating from 1797, the municipal building and the Casa de la Cultura are important locations among visitors.
INBio Park was created by the National Biodiversity Institute to provide information to visitors about national ecosystems using numerous examples of the country’s biodiversity, all gathered in one place. The park offers examples of the Central Valley forest, humid forest, tropical dry forest and wetlands. Visitors can see approximately 51 bird species, 583 native plant species, and many kinds of mammals and reptiles.
The initial idea of the park was to reunite various rare tree species in a single botanical garden. The idea transformed into the creation of exhibition halls with plants from different ecosystems and a beautiful butterfly garden.
Tours start with an audiovisual presentation that shows how biodiversity has been utilized in Costa Rica. After the presentation, nature trails allow a glimpse of white-tailed deer, three-toed sloths, green iguanas, Hoffmann’s woodpeckers, blue-gray tanagers, rufous-tailed hummingbirds and more.
The trails lead to one of its most striking sites, a lagoon. Also, fish tanks represent Costa Rica’s most common wetland fresh-water fish.
Tours end with a colorful presentation of Costa Rica’s protected wildlife areas.
Costa Rica’s 112 volcanic formations include the Barva volcano, situated in the Braulio Carrillo National Park on the northern side of downtown Heredia.
The Braulio Carrillo National Park was established to protect the flora and fauna along the highway to Guápiles in the Caribbean region. It features 113,371 acres of protected areas with waterfalls, high mountains, tropical wet and cloud forests, rivers and volcanoes.
The peak of Barva volcano is at 9,500 feet above sea level and it’s the highest point in the national park. Although inactive, it isn’t extinct as every dormant volcano can awake without notice. The slopes of this volcano are very different from others as they are planted entirely with coffee.
With this in mind, an inevitable stop is Café Britt’s award-winning Coffee Tour. Since 1991, nearly half a million visitors have joined the stroll through the beautiful six-acre coffee farm and roasting plant.
The guides at Coffee Tour lead the way telling about the country’s fascinating coffee history and production cycle with homespun Costa Rican humor which appeals to coffee lovers of all ages. As songbirds chirp overhead, visitors brush up against real coffee bushes, savor the sweet flavor of a ripe coffee cherry, and breathe in the tantalizing aroma of roasting beans.
The Braulio Carrillo National Park hosts a multitude of animals, including spiders and howler monkeys, snakes, reptiles, ocelots, jaguars, pumas, frogs, tapirs, sloths and more than 400 species of birds, many of them migratory. Its vegetation is composed of nearly 6,000 species of plants.
The park has two entrances, one is at the Zurquí ranger station on the Guápiles Highway and the other is at Puesto de Barva, the preferred entrance among visitors to the volcano.
The volcano’s high elevation means cool temperatures, hence warm and waterproof clothes and hiking shoes are suggested.
Other places to visit in Heredia are the town of Barva, with old adobe houses, and the beautiful mountains of San Rafael.
Costa Rica Travel: Travel Information & Tips
No matter how beautiful a destination may be, it needs easy access and be reachable within the limitations of an average vacation period. Costa Rica is only two and a half hours away from Miami!