Chirripó National Park

The Chirripo and the La Amistad parks contain the greatest biological wealth and variety in all of Costa Rica. Additionally they protect the largest virgin forest in the country.
As a result of the differences in altitude, soil type. climate and topography, an extraordinary number of habitats can be found here. These include paramos, swamps, oak forests, madrono forests, fern groves, and different kinds of mixed forests.

The territorial expand of the parks is impressive for a small country like Costa Rica. The Chirripó park has an extension of 50.150 Hectares, and the Costa Rican sector of La Amistad Park is 193.929 Hectares.

An estimate has been made that both parks shelter 60% of all the vertebrate and invertebrate animals in Costa Rica.

The paramos which begin at 2900-3.100 meters, consist of stunted, very mixed shrubs, grasses and perennial herbaceous plants of Andean origin. One of the most frequently seen species here is the batamba.

The swamps are limited to very small areas at great heights and they are composed of herbaceous and shrub communities that grow in poor draining acid soil.
The forests are composed of madrono which is the predominant species that covers vast expanses of the upper reaches of the park.

The oak forests consist mainly of huge oak trees (Quercus spp.) with straight. smooth trunks and branches covered with epiphytic plants.

The fern groves are mainly made up of the Lomaria fern which grows 1-2 meters high, and of sphagnum moss (Sphagnum sp).

The tall, damp cloud forests cover the greater part of both parks and are extremely complex. Some of the largest trees are the oak, sweet cedar (Cedrela tonduzii). nargusta (Terminalia amazonia) elm (Ulmus mexicana), magnolia (Magnolia poasana). lancewood (Nectandra sanguinea). mountain cypress (Podocarpus mon tan us), and manni (Symphonia globulifera).

About 263 species of amphibians and reptiles, and about 400 bird species have been observed in the parks.

Some of the mammals that live in the parks are the tapir (Tapirus bairdii), with the largest population in the country of pumas (Felis concolor) and jaguars (Felis onca).
Among the birds, mention must be made of the resplendent quetzal, which is also called the "phoenix of the forest", black guan (Chamaepetes unicolor), crowned wren-thrush (Zeledonia coronata, elegant trogon (Trogon elegans), and the acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus).

One of the most interesting geomorphological discoveries that has been made in Chirripó is of several glacier features which remain intact. There are small, U-shaped glacial valleys, terminal moraines, glacial lakes and cirques formed by the action and movement of ice about 25,000-30.000 years ago.
The tallest mountain in the country, Chirripó Peak, which towers 3.819 meters high, is part of the park of the same name.

The climate of the region varies greatly and largely depends on altitude and slope incline, although it is generally very humid. It rains at least 3.2000 mm. a year, and in some parts of the parks, rainfall estimates are as high as 6 meters. The upper reaches of the parks are subject to frequent frosts and abrupt temperature changes, with a difference of as much as 24� C between night and day. The lowest temperature recorded in Chirripó (and in the country) is 9� C.

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Los Crestones
The Crestones peaks of Chirripo

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