Huetar North Region

It is located in the northern part of the country and extends from La Hacienda River in Upala all the way to the Sarapiqui River in La Virgen de Sarapiqui. It adjoins Nicaragua to the north, the Guanacaste Mountain Range to the west, the Sarapiqui and Toro Amarillo rivers to the east, and the Naranjo county to the south. The ACA-HN protects stand-out resources, such as: the humid forest, the rainy mountain forest; ecosystems for biological research, wetlands (which are home, food and reproduction environment for wild species), hydric resources, of great importance for the Northern Zone in the production of hydroelectric energy and human consumption, geomorphgic features, like active and inactive volcanic centers, etc; also, the protected wildlife areas are home to the great green macaw, endangered species.

  • Environmental Education Program: Its fundamental objective makes an attitude change in the area’s visitors and the people from the neighbouring communities, to achieve an adequate use of the area’s resources.

    Land Tenancy Program: We look for the acquisition of land in private property that allows us to consolidate the regime of tenancy in ACA-HN.

    Extension Program: Tries to integrate the existent necessities in the different communities in the area, as well as the search of solutions and new alternatives of sustainable development.

    Protection Program: Its objective is to conserve and protect natural resources in the ACA-HN.

    Investigation Program: Promotion actions for the investigation in biological, forest, agronomic, geographic fields, linked to sociocultural and economic impact that said projects can have in the conservation area.

    Ecoturism Program: Its strategic objective is to encourage the rational use of the tourist attractions in ACA-HN.

  • The Arenal Volcano began its activity period in July 1968, and since then the gas emissions, water vapors and pyroclastic material explosions, sometimes occasioned by deep rumblings.
    Ash is carried by the wind and transported long distances, especially to the areas located to the volcano’s northeast. The heaviest and biggest materials land near the crater and the lava fluids are constantly emitted at temperatures higher than 1000 degrees Celsius, which lose heat as they descend.
    Nowadays there are several places where you can enjoy a great view and delight yourself with the numerous eruptions of this volcano.

  • The Platanar Volcano, known in the region as the Congo Volcano, has an altitude of 2.183 m.a.s.l., it is located to the southwest of Ciudad Quesada. It is a stratovolcano, inactive now, and little-known, which presents a crater destroyed at the northwest side.
    The volcano is part of the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. The imposing structure can be observed clearly from different places in Ciudad Quesada.

  • The fight for the natural riches in this “Sacred Mountain”, as called by Mgr. Eladio Sancho, has a history of more than forty years, since the beginning of the motions for the Cerro Platanar to be called National Reserve. The request was adopted with enthusiasm and in the year 1968 was accepted under the decree Number 5052, creating the Cerro Platanar National Forest, which extends for 2.500 hectares.
    In 1975, it was declared Juan Castro Blanco Forest Reserve, with an extension of 13.770 hectares. In 1989, with the participation of the Main Government, the San Carlos Municipality and the civil society, this area was declared Protection Zone Juan Castro Blanco, varying its forest reserve management category to protection zone with an extension of 14.250 hectares.
    In 1992, under law Number 7297, it was declared the Juan Castro Blanco National Park, with an extension of 14.250 hectares. On July 25th, 1998, the Juan Castro Blanco National Park’s Protective Association (APANAJUCA) is founded. Finally, because of the value and importance of the hydric resource, the association launches a law project before the legislative assembly in order to change the park’s name, and in December 2003, decree Number 8392 is published, establishing that onward the park would be called Juan Castro Blanco National Park of Water (PNAJCB).


Where sustainable and the natural resources’ conservation coexist in perfect harmony. The North Zone offers an endless list of places and activities to do, no matter what your age is.

  • Horseback riding
  • Trips to Lake Arenal
  • Expeditions to the Arenal Volcano
  • Rafting

  • Canopy (Zip lining)
  • Venado Caverns
  • Celeste River
  • Assorted activities in Lake Arenal

  • Caño Negro Tours
  • Safari in the Peñas Blancas River
  • Hot springs

The North Zone is a unique region in our country, with heights that range from 400 to 2.400 m.a.s.l., it offers a wide variety of hotels, cabins, restaurants, and everything necessary to enjoy a perfect vacation.


    The Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge is a humid zone considered one of the richest in biodiversity in Costa Rica. It is possible to find a wide variety of native and migratory birds, besides three different monkey species, iguanas, sloths, caimans, and turtles. Some of the birds we can find in Caño Negro are very abundant and it is possible to see them by the hundreds, especially during Dry Season. Among them is the snakebird, the wood stork, the jabiru and the Neotropic Cormorant. Throughout the river, it is possible to see howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and white-headed capuchins. You can also find three-toed sloths and several reptiles like basilisks, caimans and turtles.


    The caverns were formed in the Miocene period, approximately fifteen or twenty million years ago. During much of this time, these caverns were submerged in the ocean depths, however, due to the tectonic plates’ movement, they were elevated until they became a part of the surface.
    The caverns were discovered by the Guatuso aborigines, and most of them are formed by limestone, stalactite, stalagmite and corals, as well as rock formations, product of the erosive action of the underground river that goes through them. Travelling inside the caverns takes approximately two hours and it is possible to find fossils, bats, spiders and crickets.


    Lake Arenal is the biggest and most important lake in Costa Rica. Of artificial origins, it was built in 1974 with the goal of obtaining hydroelectric energy for the whole country. It is also a place where we can find a wide variety of native and migratory birds, and sometimes it is possible to find mammals like monkeys and sloths in the surrounding areas.
    Lake Arenal is an important attraction of the area, because of the different water sports that are practiced there, like sport fishing and boat trips, among many others. It has also become the perfect site to enjoy a family day.


    The Northern Zone of our country counts with different places where you will be able to enjoy hot springs, like La Fortuna, La Marina and Guatuso. Hot springs are originated in volcanic conduits and are made up of a great variety of minerals, making them a great choice for relaxing in a different way. In general, the Northern Zone is an area that covers approximately 10.000 km2 and has become a region with a great tourist potential. Oriented to the conservation of our natural resources in function of the development of sustainable development projects, it is the ideal region to enjoy and share its attractions in a perfect vacation.


    The Maleku Indigenous Reserve is located south of the town of Guatuso, head of the county with the same name. The Maleku Village is settled in three different sections inside the reserve: Palenques Margarita,Tonjibe and El Sol, all of them inside a terrain of 2.993 hectares and a population of only a thousand people.
    The Malekus speak a tongue known as Maleku Jaica, which is spoken by 70% of the population.
    The Malekus were originally settled in the territory that is nowadays covered by the counties of Guatuso and San Carlos, and the same indigenous people’s testimonies speak of how the Maleku territory came to cover an area of approximately 100.000 hectares in the XIX Century.
    Nowadays, the Malekus are dedicated to agriculture and the making of handcrafts, which may be purchased directly from the aborigines or in different handcraft shops in tourist sites throughout the Arenal area.


    Inside the community the Juanilama Ecological Reserve is located, a primary forest of 25 hectares which give way to an impressive waterfall. Said reserve adjoins Pocosol River to the northeast and is crossed by the Quebrada La Leona, with the majestic waterfall of the same name, giving it humid features which are ideal for the abundant trees planted in the forest, like the mountain Tamarind tree, the Kapok tree and the Guayabón Surá, which coexist with wild vegetaion proper of the Huetar North Zone, and a wonderful concentration of howler monkeys, spider monkeys, agoutis, pacas, deer, reptiles, amphibians, and a wide variety of birds and insects. As an unarguable symbol of the village, this reserve is protected by its habitants, in addition to the MINAET, due to its association to the Costa Rican Protected Areas National System.