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Costa Rica will open 12 national parks. Here’s how it’ll work

May 13, 2020

Costa Rica will open 12 national parks, plus the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, in accordance with new measures announced by the Health Ministry.

But in keeping with the country’s plan for a gradual reopening of activities, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) has imposed a set of limitations to help reduce the chances of a coronavirus outbreak.

Remember, Costa Rica’s borders are still closed to arriving tourists. While the country is reactivating its tourism sector, it’s focusing on domestic visitors first.

Here’s what you need to know:

Thirteen parks will open

The following national parks can open Monday, May 18:

  • Irazú Volcano National Park
  • Poás Volcano National Park
  • Guayabo National Monument
  • Braulio Carrillo National Park
  • Carara National Park
  • Corcovado National Park
  • Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Cahuita National Park
  • Arenal Volcano National Park
  • Rincón de la Vieja National Park
  • Los Quetzales National Park
  • Tapantí National Park

In addition, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve has been authorized to reopen. While Monteverde is a private reserve, it’s a “site of strong tourist visitation,” SINAC said, and critical to the local economy.

Costa Rica’s remaining protected wildlife areas will open at a later date; on Monday, authorities suggested this would occur June 1, but that could change if coronavirus cases spike.

Health measures to be applied

All open national parks will operate at 50% of their capacity to avoid crowds, SINAC said.

In addition, the following measures will be enforced:

  • Lunch areas, camping areas, gift shops, cafeterias, and some viewpoints will be closed.
  • Parking lots will block off every other space.
  • Entry “will be done in groups and maintaining a distance of 1.8 meters (6 feet) between people.”

Visitors will be permitted to walk on beaches within national parks but will not be allowed to stay on the sand for any extended period of time. (In other words, visitors cannot sunbathe, sleep, or lay out on the beach within national parks.)

Tickets can be purchased at the park

While Health Minister Daniel Salas said Monday that visitors must pre-purchase their entry to a national park, most of Costa Rica’s protected wildlife areas don’t have an online reservation system.

According to SINAC, “acquisition of tickets can be made at the site, with the use of a dataphone or in cash, with the exception of National Parks that use online reservations.”

The relevant exception is Poás National Park, which has an online reservation system available at: serviciosenlinea.sinac.go.cr. (We detailed the booking process in this story.)

Editor’s note: The Health Ministry originally announced that national parks would reopen Saturday, May 16. On Wednesday, they issued an updated statement that the 12 parks would instead reopen Monday, May 18.

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