Barra Honda National Park

Barra Honda National Park

Located in the Tempisque Conservation area, 22 Km to the northeast of the city of  Nicoya, it extends between Nicoya and the mouth of the Rio Tempisque, in a steep rocky limestone area with coastal hills of more than 300 high. There are 40 caves, some with more than 200 mts depth, 19 of which have been explored. Barra Honda is especially interesting for potholers in search of new places to investigate. With 2.295 protected hectares, which have been created to safeguard an area of geological and pot holing interest. The cracks have stalactites and stalagmites; you can also see bats and blind salamanders, fishes that swim along the currents and a variety of invertebrates that live under the land. Pre-Columbian skeletons have been discovered, but who they were and how they got there is still a mystery. The Terciopelo cave, 62 meters deep, is the only cave with easy access. To reach he others visitors will need to ask for permission from the National Park Services. The  Santa Ana cave is the deepest at , 240 meters, Trampa 110 meters and with a vertical drop of more than 52 meters, Nicoya, where human remains where discovered, and Pozo Hediondo, that houses a large colony of bats. It is necessary to go with a guide to all of these caves. On the surface, the hills of Barra Honda have roads that are covered with vegetation, typical of Tropical Dry Forests. The peak of the Barra Honda hill offers a panoramic view of Río Tempisque and the Nicoya Gulf. There are waterfalls with calcium formations during the rainy season, and animals all year round. The most common animals are the white faced howler monkeys, armadillos, coyotes and white tailed deer, as well as skunks and ant eaters.

Information

It is best to visit the caves during the dry season, in the rainy season it can be dangerous. Entry to the park is 6 US$, and you can obtain maps and information from the forest post, situated at the northeast point. There are bathrooms nearby where you can also camp for 2 US$ a day. The roads that depart from this point lead to the peak of Barra Honda, on a route of around half a day. The administrative offices are in Nicoya Ph /fax (506) 2685-5667, you will need to get authorization to explore the caves. You can also make accommodation and guide reservations. Open from 7:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m, everyday; the Terciopelo cave can only be visited until 1:00 p.m.

Proyecto Nacaome

It is a local initiative that is ran from the park. Its aim is to implement a basic tourism infrastructure to employ locals. At the entrance it is possible to get food, accommodation and information about this project, and guides arrive here to look for customers. It is an excellent way to involve the inhabitants in the conservation process and for tourists to experience ecotourism. Camping costs 2 US$ and cabins 5 US$ prices per person.  There are three cabins which are small, with six beds and a bathroom each. A simple restaurant serving traditional regional meals for 3 US$. A guide charges around 22 US$ for a group of tourists. Renting of special equipment costs 12 US$ per person. The descents use ropes and ladders. To reserve accommodation and to ask for a guide company, call the office in Nicoya Ph /fax (506) 2685-5667, that will then contact the park via radio.

How to arrive

By Car

There are two entrances.  Barra Honda is U shaped. It is located to the east of Quebrada Honda, from where a dirt road to the north goes inside the park, and to the west there is a forest post.  If you drive from the Río Tempisque bridge, 16 km after crossing the bridge and 1,5 km before arriving a the main road that joins Nicoya with Carmona, there is a sign that says “A Barra Honda” on the right hand side.  If you are traveling the opposite way and you are traveling along the main road, you will need to take a turnoff to the bridge and look for the road that takes you to Barra Honda some 1.5 km from the main road. From there continue driving for a further 4Km until you reach he small community of  Nacaome Park, you will then drive along a 6km dirt road until you get to the inside of the park, passing Santa Ana. The road is steep and difficult, and during the rainy season it is better to use a 4X4.

By Bus

The buses don’t travel as far as the park, but they do stop at Santa Ana; from there you can walk 1 ½ km.  A daily service leaves Nicoya at 12:30 m.d, and costs 1 US$ and lasts 30 minutes. Returning from Santa Ana to Nicoya at 1:00 p.m, although buses also leave in the early morning. A taxi from Nicoya to the entrance of the Park costs 10 US$.

El Puente de la Amistad de Taiwan (The Bridge of Friendship from Taiwan)

The crossing via Puente La Amistad is located 19.5km along the main Peninsula road.