La Amistad International Park

Shiroles, Costa Rica

Text©Beatrice Blake-New Key to Costa Rica

Parque Internacional La Amistad extends over the Talamanca mountains from the southern border of Chirripó National Park down into Panama. It is the largest park in the country (599,000 hectares), and its Panamanian counterpart is more than three times larger. Comprising eight life zones, La Amistad is one of the richest ecological zones in Central America. The United Nations has declared the park and its neighboring reserves and protected zones a World Heritage site and has given it the status of Biosphere. Preliminary surveys indicate that two-thirds of the country’s vertebrate species are found in this park. It is an extremely important refuge for animals that require large areas in order to hunt, forage, and reproduce, like the jaguar, margay, and puma.

The official gateway to La Amistad is the Altamira entrance (camping $5, bunks at ranger station, $6). The ranger station is a 20-kilometer (one hour) drive up a gravel road from a turnoff about 15 minutes down the road to San Vito. Once you get to Altamira there are beautiful views, a campground with tiled bathrooms, a covered cooking area with picnic tables and bunk bed accommodations in the ranger station (bring your own sleeping bag).

They have an exhibit of all the insect, butterfly, and moth species that are found in the park.

Sendero los Gigantes del Bosque is a circular hike that takes about two hours. Along the trail, the plants, trees, brooks, and the forest itself speak to visitors through a series of 13 natural history stations.

A three-day guided trek to the Valle del Silencio, 14 kilometers from the Altamira station, is the main attraction for serious hikers. You can do a one-day hike to Casa Coca, where you might see the tracks of nocturnal jungle cats. On the three-day hike, you spend the night at Casa Coca, then visit Valle del Silencio the next day, returning to spend the night at Casa Coca. No matter how adventurous you feel, don’t undertake the trip without a guide. It’s very easy to get lost, and hikers have died from hypothermia and falls in the slippery, precipitous terrain. Camping in this area is most enjoyable in the dry season (January through April).

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phone: (506)2200-5355

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The nearest town is Shiroles, 25.8 km away and Airport Buenos Aires airport is 36.6 km.

Please note that distances for nearby hotels, attractions, activites & other points of interest are in a straight line. Distances by road may be significantly longer!

The approximate gps map coordinates of La Amistad International Park are latitude 9.4314, longitude -83.1298. (exact GPS coordinates are accurate to within a few meters, gps data labeled approximate is within a few hundred meters)