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Parque Nacional Santa Rosa

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It isn't often that you find sand, surf, plains, mountains, tourist facilities and a well-preserved historic site in one park. And yet that's exactly what awaits you at the impressive Parque Nacional Santa Rosa, located in the northwestern most part of the province, just a few kilometres from the Nicaraguan border. Covering an area of 37,117 hectares, the park was designated a national site in 1966, then became a national park on March 20, 1971.

La Casona , a large and fascinating historic site, lies within its boundaries. It is the main house of the Hacienda Santa Rosa, one of the largest ranches in Costa Rica, which has played an important role in the country's history since the 18th century. A symbol of Costa Rican independence and national pride, La Casona was the scene of three decisive battles, whose outcome helped preserve democracy in the country. Outside, near some stately trees, is a long, low stone wall that was built over 300 years ago.

The Monumento a los Héroes was erected near La Casona in memory of the courageous men and women who fought in the battles of 1856 and 1955.

Parque Nacional Santa Rosa is divided into two sectors: the Santa Rosa sector, which is most popular with visitors, and the smaller Murciélago sector farther north. Between them lie the Santa Elena Peninsula and the mountains of the same name. The park contains one of the last remnants of the tropical dry forest that once extended along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Panamá.

This vast park contains a variety of natural habitats (sea, beaches, mangrove swamps, plains, mountains, etc.) and is thus home to a remarkable assortment of animals. To date, 115 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles - and over 30,000 species of insects have been counted! With a bit of luck, you can see white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, coatis and large iguanas (Ctenousaura similis). Pumas, coyotes and boa constrictors are among the less commonly spotted denizens of the park.

Playa Nancite is considered one of the two most important breeding grounds of olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea, known to Costa Ricans as the tortuga lora) in the world, the other being Playa Ostional in the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre de Ostional. These turtles are not very big, weighing only 40 kilograms on average, but thousands of them come to the beach to lay their eggs. This spectacular phenomenon, which local residents refer to as arribadas (massive influxes), occurs frequently between the months of July and November and most often in August and September.


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