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Santa Rosa National Park

Santa Rosa was Costa Rica’s first national park. It was created in 1972 to commemorate the Hacienda Santa Rosa, a historic battle between William Walker’s American forces and a ragtag army of Costa Rican volunteers. Today, Santa Rosa National Park is part of the Guanacaste conservation area.

It protects much of the world’s last remaining tropical dry forest. Located in the province of Guanacaste, Santa Rosa National Park encompasses a huge part of the Santa Elena peninsula.

This park is a must-see!

Santa Rosa’s flora and fauna

One of the park’s main attractions is that it alone encompasses more than 10 distinct habitats, making it the only one of its kind on the planet.

Hardwood forests, oak forests, mangroves including the red mangrove, coastal forests, coniferous forests, swamps and savannahs cover the entire area of the park and are home to over 115 species of mammals, more than 10,000 species of insects, 250 species of birds, and around 100 species of amphibians and other reptiles. White-tailed deer, jaguars, ocelots, pumas, howler and spider monkeys, collared peccaries, olive ridley turtles, coatimundis, leatherback turtles and jaguarundis are just some of the many animals that can be found roaming free in this park.

Dominated by lush vegetation during the rainy season, Santa Rosa National Park transforms into a dry forest in summer, with numerous winding trails and magnificent beaches. The park is divided into two zones, the Santa Rosa section and the Murcielago section. The Santa Rosa section is home to La Casona, a historic mansion housing photographs, images, drawings and military equipment commemorating the Battle of Hacienda Santa Rosa.

In this area, you’ll find marked trails leading through spectacular forests and gushing waterfalls.

Just 13 km from La Casona are the magnificent beaches of Playa Naranjo and Playa Nancite. The white sands of Playa Nancite are famous for nesting Ridley turtles, while the grey sands of Naranjo are one of the best surfing spots in the world. In the Murcielago section of the park, amid rocky peaks and valleys, you’ll find a former CIA training camp, as well as the home of Nicaragua’s dictator Somoza.

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