Barra Honda National Park (Costa Rica)

Barra Honda National Park (Costa Rica)

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 17:19
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The Barra Honda National Park is located in western Costa Rica and is part of the Tempisque Conservation Area. It was created in 1974 to protect its famous cave systems under the Barra Honda Peak which was formed when islets from the Miocene Era were raised above the plains of the river.

The Barra Honda National Park is located in western Costa Rica and is part of the Tempisque Conservation Area. It was created in 1974 to protect its famous cave systems under the Barra Honda Peak which was formed when islets from the Miocene Era were raised above the plains of the river.

The nearly flat mesa of the Barra Honda hill looms 300 m (984 ft) above the Tempisque valley and has its highest peak at 450 m (1,476 ft) altitude. Its base consists of a former coral reef dating back over 60 million years. Tectonic faulting uplifted it from its former seabed and the action of rain filtering through the limestone over 70 million years or more created underground waterways which carved out the caves there today.

The number of caves discovered on Barra Honda Peak was 42 in 2005, which were rediscovered during the 1960's and 1970's. They include Nicoa, where pre-Columbian human remains, artifacts and jewelry were found dated to approximately 300 BC, and Santa Ana, the deepest cave known in the complex which is unusual for its unique and numerous stalactites and columns. This cave plunges some 787 ft (240 m) into the earth.

Until now only 19 of Barra Honda's 42 caves have been explored. The cave system was only discovered in the late 1960's. Before that, people believed that Barra Honda was a volcano. One of the largest and most beautiful caves is Terciopelo which along with la Cuevita, is the only one open to the public. Tours must be accompanied by a local guide.

Due to its unique underground features, the park is also home to several rare species. These include blind salamanders and endemic fish that have adapted to living in complete darkness.