Palo Verde National Park
Palo Verde National Park is the largest protected area in Guanacaste and possibly one of the most important ones in Central America. This place offers refuge and a temporary home for birds to nest and grow their chicks. Palo verde gives asylum to especies like the Roseate Spoonbill, the Wood Stork, the Northern Jacana, Ospreys, at least 4 species of king fishers, dozens of species of egrets, trogons, motmot… and the list goes to over 300 species of birds!
Not to say about mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies… Palo Verde is definitely one of the richest places when we talk about wildlife. You can find out more information about Palo Verde in this article
Discover Palo Verde National Park’s wildlife in a boat tour from two different ports conveniently located according to your hotel location:
Puerto Humo is a small town located at the border of Tempisque River, which subsists mostly on cattle. This place used to be a mayor port during colony, as cattle from all over the area would be loaded into large boats here to be taken for trade in other places. Today, close to the soccer field are Aventuras Arenal facilities, which include a small restaurant, restrooms, a port and boats.
Tempisque river borders South-West and South limits of Palo Verde National Park and flows into Pacific Ocean at Nicoya’s Gulf. This makes it susceptible to tides and therefore some places can be accessed or not depending on them. At Puerto Humo the river is wide enough to let this do not be a problem at all which means boats can be depart at any time.
Once at Aventuras Arenal port you’ll ride the boat and navigate for a few minutes until arriving to Birds Island. This place has been for decades the nesting place for migratory birds from North America. Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Anhingas, Egrets, Boat-billed herons and many other species, make themselves a temporary home to lay eggs, wait for them to hatch and grow the chicks until they can fly. This cycle goes from September to February, sometimes sooner or later depending if there’s a delay on the rains, as birds will only nest after they’ve come.
During the tour the guide will help spot animals hidden among the branches and explain you about their role in the entire ecosystem. A part from Birds Island, the boat will follow the edges of the river to try the best looking for monkeys, reptiles, and other birds, such as trogons, jacanas, tiger herons and many other inhabitants of the place.
After the boat tour and once back at the port, a meal will be awaiting for you to recover strength to continue this journey.
After departing from Puerto Humo, you’ll head to Guatil. One of the places that had best embraced the ancient art of pottery as performed by the indigenous tribe that once had this lands for territory: the Chorotegas.
Here you’ll meet a group of women who still gather clay and sculpt pots, plates and figurines of animals and humans alike. Colors still remain as the traditional ones used by Chorotegas, although they have also innovated by adding greens to that color palate. In result, beautiful ceramics with outstanding finishes that will make you want to own a couple of pieces.
You’ll also have the chance to prove your pottery making skills by sculpting this kind of pieces in a little hands-on workshop, given by masters in this matter. You’ll also learn about the process involved in this craftsmanship and some of the history behind this art and the indigenous culture that have a lot of influence in the next place of the list: Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is one of the largest cities of Guanacaste and the richest in folklore. It’s festivities are the most famous of the whole province. The celebrations in honor to their Holy Patron; the Black Crist of Esquipulas, take place from January 13th to 18th. Specially during those days you can hear marimbas -a traditional musical instrument similar to a xylophone- in the streets, you can watch bull riding events and taste traditional dishes.
During your visit, you’ll meet the iconic park of santa cruz, the church where the Black Crist of Esquipulas hangs on it cross and if you like we recommend you to try a refreshing horchata -a cold drink made from water and rice- and some tanelas – a traditional pastry that tastes sweet and salty-.