Barbilla National Park Limon Costa Rica – Parque Nacional Barbilla
We have passed by the Barbilla National Park sign for years. It’s along the main route (32) that leads to our farm. The sign is brown with yellow letters very much like state park signs in the U.S. It reads Parque Nacional Barbilla 12 kms, 4×4 recommended with an arrow pointing straight up a hill. We had never ventured up the hill before but knew that someday we would. We finally decided that we would go this spring, after the rain stopped. I then received some additional incentive to go from Tripping.com. They were sponsoring a spring break twitter contest, write 140 characters for $140. I mentioned that I was going to Barbilla and they picked my tweet to win! They also said they would send me a free T-shirt and asked if I would snap a pic while there. So here it is.
The day we picked to go was beautiful. During our entire 12K up hill we watched Turrialba Volcano spit out smoke on our right hand side. We didn’t know it at the time but the next day the local newspapers were all a flutter with news of the activity and that there were two plumes instead of the normal one. The top of Turrialba Volcano is normally covered in clouds when we pass it so we don’t pay it much attention. When we finally reached the top of the mountain, just before the Barbilla ranger station, we got our first glimpse of a modern Cabecar Indian home. Many of the remaining Cabecar people live high in the mountains on reserves that are non-accessible by road and without electricity. The round structure that you see in the picture is a traditional Cabecar building. Most Cabecars still speak their own language and the village leader is always an elder female.
At the station we spoke with Alfredo Gracia, a Ranger. He said that the land that makes up Barbilla National Park was set aside as an area of protection for the wildlife (jaguars, panthers, tapirs etc) more than it was a traditional national park. There are limited trails and even the building we were in was not on park property because there is no way to bring materials or electricity into the steep terrain. Mr. Garcia said that he was the only ranger on site today so he would not be able to accompany us to the long trail. We would only be able to take a short trail down to the Dantas River. Note: The long trail is about a 5 hour trip and the short trail is about 2 hours. If you play in the river like we did you can spend a lot more time. There is also a hike that takes 5 days to a lake deep in the forest. Mr. Garcia said it is only wise to go there in December and we should come back closer to that time if we were serious about doing it. This area is very mountainous so the hikes are straight down and straight up and straight down and straight up, you get the picture. I slid a few feet while going down hill and had to use roots to pull myself up a few times going back up.
Here is the trail, Barry playing in the water and me after the hike. It may look like I was not having fun but it was fun!
The Barbilla National Park biological (ranger) station has a study room with various types of snakes, amphibians and an insect diagram. The last shot is the road as we were on our way home.