Cordillera de Talamanca: Mountain Range (Costa Rica, Panama)

Cordillera de Talamanca: Mountain Range (Costa Rica, Panama)

Sun, 07/28/2019 - 18:37

The Cordillera de Talamanca is a mountain range that lies on the southeast half of Costa Rica and the far west of Panama. It is a spectacular range that rises from sea level on the Caribbean side to over 12,000 ft and then drops back down to the Valle General on the Pacific side.

Cordillera de Talamanca

The Cordillera de Talamanca range, in southern Costa Rica, stretches from southwest of San José to beyond the border with Panama.

It is a spectacular range that rises from sea level on the Caribbean side to over 12,000 ft (3,650 m) and then drops back down to the Valle General on the Pacific side.

The Cordillera de Talamanca contains the highest peaks of Costa Rica and Panama, among them Cerro Chirripó at 3,819 m (12,530 ft) above sea level and where, on a clear day, both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean is visible. A more accessible high peak is Cerro de la Muerte at 3,451 m (11,322 ft) above sea level.

This range was a volcanic island in the geological past, it raised result of tectonic uplift and its separation from other mountain ranges means that it has developed many endemic species of animals and plants, often with affinities to Andean forms.

The lower slopes of the mountains are rich in wildlife and are covered with rain forest. The highest slopes are covered with Paramo vegetaion, similar in appearance to the Paramo in the Andes.

 

Topographic map of Costa Rica with Talamanca range
Topographic map of Costa Rica depicting the Talamanca range

 

Poor transportation resources limit access to the Talamanca region. Therefore, much of the Caribbean areas of the range are still unexplored.

Several national parks and Indian reservations are located here, including Chirripó National Park. The Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the first binational biosphere reserve.

The mountain range is a center of endemism for many plant and animal groups and as an important habitat for many large mammals (Baird's Tapir, Puma, Jaguar) and birds that are now threatened in much of their range.

December through March is the driest season. The lower part of the mountain range can be very hot. The summit areas of the mountains can be very cold and wet year round. Freezing temperatures are common in the higher elevations of the range..