Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve
- Location : 12 miles from Bagaces in Guanacaste
- Area : 6,540 acres
- Hours : 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
- Telephone : 2659-9194
- Entrance Fee : $10.00
The 6,540-acre Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve bursts with the color and sound of a tropical dry forest year-round. More than 200 bird species and 250 bee species (about 25% of the world's entire bee population) share the forest with myriad plant and animal life, including jabiru stork and gargantuan American crocodiles. Hiking is available on unmarked trails during the dry season (January-March).read more close
Lomas de Barbudal joins together with Palo Verde National Park, Dr. Rafael Lucas Rodriguez Caballero Wildlife Refuge, Barra Honda National Park and the Cipanci Wildlife Refuge to form the Tempisque Megapark. The parks and refuges have similar habitats, and many years ago, these forests completely lined Central America’s Pacific coast.
Today, Lomas de Barbudal is best known as the “insect park,” a well-deserved nickname. The reserve’s 250 bee species are extremely diverse, and many are Africanized – this means that they have bred with the African killer bee, producing a species that is not as aggressive as its ancestor, but not as tame as a North American honeybee. In addition to its bee population, the park also gives refuge to over 60 butterfly and moth species, as well as many other insects.
Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve also protects several tree species that teeter on the brink of extinction. Easily spotted are the beautiful rosewood and mahogany trees that rise from the earth, flanked by the green-barked ron-ron and the flaming yellow Tabebuia ochracea. The park’s specialty, the spectacular Tabebuia ochracea, comes alive for approximately four days each March, usually after an unexpected rainfall. It explodes into yellow flower in an instant, and the reserve’s thousands of trees decorate the forest all at once.
As if the park’s protected trees and diverse animal life were not enough to attract interest, Lomas de Barbudal is also known for its rushing rivers, tumbling waterfalls, panoramic vistas and magnificent scenery. For a basic overview, visit the refuge’s small museum, Casa Patrimonio, which details the terrain, history and wildlife throughout the park.
There is an on-site visitors’ center. In addition, the Friends of Lomas Barbudal, in Bagaces, offers trail guides and park displays.
Flora & Fauna:
Flora: As is typical of tropical dry forests, 70% of Lomas de Barbudal’s trees are deciduous. Instead of dropping their leaves during cold weather, these trees do so during hot, dry periods. This allows them to retain and conserve water during drought periods, ensuring their survival. About 30% of the park’s trees do not drop their leaves; many of these trees are non-native evergreens that settlers and travelers brought to Costa Rica many years ago.
The Tabebuia ochracea is the forest’s show stealer, providing one of the most brilliant and breathtaking color shows in the country. Bright, beautiful yellow blooms burst into life each March, decorating the forest’s canopy for four glorious days before falling to the forest floor.
Fauna: Lomas de Barbudal’s 250 bee species are joined in flight by almost 200 bird species, including turkey vultures, king vultures, jabiru storks, elegant trogon, scarlet macaws and keel-billed toucans. Mammals are less common, though guests often catch sight of howler and white-faced monkeys, raccoon, tree squirrel, armadillo, white-nosed coatimundi and white-tailed deer. Crocodiles are common in the water, so save your bathing suit for other Costa Rican parks.
From San Jose, take the Interamerican Highway west into Bagaces. When you have reached Bagaces, turn southeast and follow the signs 12 miles to the Reserva Biologica Lomas de Barbudal.