Natural History Visitors – Palo Verde

General information

Palo Verde is one of the most important sanctuaries in Central America for migrating and resident species of waterfowl. Visitors would discover the natural beauty of the tropical dry forest and the magnificent wetlands, a rich mosaic that encompasses 15 different habitats.

During most of the year, the marshes, which can be seen from the station and reached in a few minutes walk, provide shelter for herons, storks, egrets, grebes, ibis, ducks, jacanas and other waterfowl and web-footed birds, many which are migratory.

In 1968 the Palo Verde area was chosen as a dry forest site for an OTS project on comparative ecosystem studies funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. This area is one of the few in Central America with remnants of tropical dry forest.

Due to the seasonal concentration of wading birds in its wetlands and the protection of last remnants of neotropical dry forest, the government of Costa Rica declared the site as a National Wildlife Refugee in 1977. In 1980, an adjacent property was aggregated to the conservation unit, and since then both the wildlife refugee and the new propriety become to form what today is known as Palo Verde National Park, with a total extension of 19,800 Ha.

Before becoming a National Park, Palo Verde had been a cattle ranch for more than 50 years. It is believed that heavy grazing along with seasonal fires were the two main forces keeping the seasonal wetland free of invading plant species, such as cattails.

En 1991, the Park was included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance due to: 1) playing an important hydrological, biological and ecological role in the functioning of the Tempisque River Watershed and the Gulf of Nicoya, located 20 km downstream, 2) being a rare wetland within its biogeographic region, 3) having special value for the maintenance of genetic and ecological diversity in the region, 4) serving as valuable habitat for critical periods in the biological cycles of plant and animal species, and 5) hosting on a regular basis a population of over 20,000 waterfowl, including many migratory species such as black-bellied whistling ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis), blue-winged teals (Anas discors), American wigeons (Anas americana), northern shovelers (Anas clypeata) and ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris).

Palo Verde Highlights

  • Explore one of the last remnants of dry forest of the Neotropics. More than twenty endangered hardwood tree species are protected.

  • The seasonal Palo Verde Wetland is considered one of the most important marshes in Central America.

  • Important refuge site for resident and migratory waterfowl.

  • Palo Verde’s wetland is a Ramsar site.

  • Large numbers of aquatic birds can be seen: Grebes, Cormorants, Anhingas, Herons, Jabiru Storks, Ibises, Spoonbills , Falcons, Caracaras, Jacanas and many more.

  • The mammal fauna is equally rich and visible, particularly during the dry season when peccaries, armadillos, Yaguarundis, coatis, agoutis, deers, and monkeys are attracted to the water holes.

  • Since 2001 OTS, MINAE and the National Program for Wetlands have been working closely on the restoration of the wetland.

  • More than 60 species has come back and had used. This marsh for feeding, resting and reproduction events.

  • Home of the endangered species Mexican burrowing toad, which lives underground and only comes out for mating in early wet season.

  • More than sixty species of bats have been reported, including the great false vampire.

  • Isla Pájaros in the Tempisque River, is the most important nesting colony for wading birds in northwest Costa Rica. Eleven resident bird species and some 3000 individuals altogether nest there, late in the wet season.

  • Tempisque River has one of the largest concentrations of crocodiles in Costa Rica.

  • Along the Tempisque River, within mangrove forests, nesting colonies of boat-bill heron, little-blue herons, and yellow-crowned herons are easily spotted, among other species.

Facilities

  • Enjoy our rustic cabins with private bath, bunk beds, and fan. We also have dormitory-style rooms with bunk beds, and shared baths.
  • Dinning room. Vegetarian food is a daily option and we are prepared for food restrictions and also handle the take-away mode.
  • Parking
  • Free WiFi
  • Trails (entrance fee must be paid in cash to the rangers when entering the national park)

Climate

The annual mean temperature is 81°F (27°C), with a maximum of 99°F (37°C) during the dry season. Palo Verde is classified as tropical dry forest, with an annual mean precipitation of 1500-2000 mm, distributed between June and November. Dry season months from December to April. The rainy season begins in May and lasts until the end of November.

Species list

If you want to know more about the species list that you can to find on the Research Station please click here.

Location

Zone: Parque Nacional Palo Verde, Bagaces, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Distance from San José: 230 km; 4.5 hours.  Within the Palo Verde National Park on the Pacific slopes of Guanacaste Province in northwestern Costa Rica (10° 21′ N, 85° 21 W). The 20,000-hectare park has seasonally dry forest on limestone outcrops and extensive wetland vegetation bordering the Tempisque River that flows into the Gulf of Nicoya.
Getting there: Palo Verde Biological Station is located in the Province of Guanacaste, 1 hour southwest of Bagaces on an unpaved road (28 km, 17 miles), from San José, it is 4.5 hours, from Puntarenas, 3 hours, and from Liberia 1.5 hours. To get there, take Route 1 (Carretera Interamericana) north from San José (follow signs towards Nicaragua) to Bagaces. Once you arrive at Bagaces, go southwest on the unpaved road opposite to the gas station. The gravel road is rough and requires slow travel. You will encounter several forks in the road, follow signs.
Phones: San José Tel. + (506) 2524-0607 (ext. 1340), Fax. + (506) 2524-0608. Palo Verde Tel. + (506) 2661-4717, Fax. + (506) 2661-4712
Waze: Press here to load Waze

Palo Verde Research Station, Costa Rica

Image gallery

Guided Walks(GUIDED WALKS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, ASK FOR AVAILABILITY WITH RESERVATIONS)

Natural history visitors can visit Palo Verde for guided exploration walks. Talks give participants a glimpse into this endangered ecosystem as well as the research, education and conservation activities carried out by the Organization for Tropical Studies at Palo Verde in conjunction with the National Park System. Guided walks last two hours each and lead participants through the dry deciduous forests, limestone cliffs and marsh.

Boat Tours

The Tempisque River is brackish water with a variety of species of mangroves and different invertebrates and vertebrates that depend on it. The river tour consists of two parts: Charco (up river) and Bird Island (down river). You have a choice of which one you would like to do. Each is unique in habitat and species richness.

Hiking

If you love to walk and of course get in some scenic views, we have 4 different trails that will definitely be worth the effort! Just make sure to take water, comfortable hiking boots and of course a camera! Maps of these trails are also available.

Workshops/Lectures on specific selected topics

Custom-design itineraries

A new and exciting way of adventure… seek the thrill of exploring Costa Rica’s tropical rainforest with one of the world’s leading institutions in education and research of tropical science, the Organization for Tropical Studies.

Things to take

Prescription medicines as needed, good walking shoes, hot weather clothes, insect repellent, umbrella or rain jacket, flashlight, binoculars, sun screen, film and camera extra batteries, plastic bags to keep film/paper dry. Please take into consideration there is no a gift shop.

Read our Reservations
and Cancellation Policies

Our rooms:

 

Entrance fee to Palo Verde National Park $12 US

(OTS – Palo Verde Research Station does not administer or manage the national park).  Please consider that the entrance fee must be paid in CASH to the rangers, always by the costumer. The national park’s administration has a schedule from 08:00 to 16:00 (without exceptions)

**Rates subject to change for SINAC**

 

Regular Season
(from December 15, 2018 to April 30, 2019 and June 1 to August 31, 2019)

Standard Room – Full Board

Single occupancy $85
Double occupancy $162
Additional person $60
5-12 years old children $34
Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: Lodging and full board (three meals per night). Meals schedule: Breakfast from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, Lunch from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Dinner from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm – CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 

Standard Room – Breakfast only

Single occupancy $58
Double occupancy $110
Additional person $41
5-12 years old children $23
Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: Lodging and breakfast. Breakfast from 6:30 am to 7:30 am. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm – CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm. Please take into consideration that we are inside of a governmental national park, there is no a gift shop or restaurant on site so you must drive around one hour to the next town, we suggest to purchase the full board package. The rangers handle the main gate (not us); schedule from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm without exceptions every day.

 


Green Season
(valid for May, September, October, November, Dec 1 to 14, 2019)

Standard Room – Full Board

Single occupancy $67
Double occupancy $128
Additional person $47
5-12 years old children $27
Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: Lodging and full board (three meals per night). Meals schedule: Breakfast from 6:30 am to 7:30 am, Lunch from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, Dinner from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm – CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm

 

Standard Room – Breakfast only

Single occupancy $46
Double occupancy $88
Additional person $33
5-12 years old children $18
Notes: Rates per night in US Dollars, taxes included. Includes: Lodging and breakfast. Breakfast from 6:30 am to 7:30 am. CHECK IN: 3:00 pm – CHECK OUT: 12:30 pm. Please take into consideration that we are inside of a governmental national park, there is no a gift shop or restaurant on site so you must drive around one hour to the next town, we suggest to purchase the full board package. The rangers handle the main gate (not us); schedule from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm without exceptions every day.

 


Guided walks
(from December 15, 2018 to December 14, 2019)
**GUIDED WALKS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, ASK FOR AVAILABILITY WITH RESERVATIONS**

Regular Short Walk 2-10 $30
Regular Short Walk Children $20
Notes: Rates per person in US Dollars. Please take into consideration that the time of the walk might change according to weather. Available hours at 8:00 am and 3:00 pm. Enjoy and learn about the amazing natural history of the tropical dry forest, its flora and fauna.

 

Early Birding Tour 1 pax $80
Early Birding Children 5-12 years old $30
Early Birding 2-10 pax $48
Notes: Avifauna of Palo Verde at 5:45 am for two hours. Rates per person in US Dollars. Always according with availability must be coordinated with reservations.

 

Nocturnal Wildlife Walk 1 pax $80
Nocturnal Wildlife Walk 2-10 pax $48
Nocturnal Wildlife Walk Children 5-12 years old $30
Notes: A night tour to watch the Research Station wildlife at 7:00 pm for two hours. Rates per person in US Dollars. Always according with availability must be coordinated with reservations or front desk (before 5:00 pm). Remember to bring your own flashlights.

 

Boat tour Tempisque River 2-4 pax $57
Boat tour Tempisque River 5-37 pax $45
Boat tour Tempisque River Children 5-12 years old $35
Notes: Boat tour without a guide, only the experience captain for two hours. Rates per person in US Dollars. Always according with availability must be coordinated with reservations or directly at front desk. Available hours at 07:30 – 10:30 – 13:30.

For boat tour reservations: Please take into consideration that we are inside of a governmental national park, the rangers handle the main gate (not us); schedule from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm without exceptions every day, as a day visitor the only option is at 10:30 am.

***Rates are subject to change***

Request reservation

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


OTS´s commercial activities are handled by ESINTRO, S.A.
For information and reservations: visit.ots@tropicalstudies.org
Costa Rica (506) 2524-0607 (ext. 1340) | Fax (506) 2524-0608
United States (919) 684 5774 | Fax (919) 684 5661

If you want to receive information about us, please click here