Tapantí - Macizo de la Muerte National Park protects the lush northern slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca and its diverse ecosystems and life zones. The highest point of the Pan-American Highway occurs at the Cerro de la Muerte.
Tapantí - Macizo de la Muerte National Park
Tapantí - Macizo de la Muerte National Park protects the lush northern slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca which extends from eastern Costa Rica into neighboring western Panama.
Known simply as Tapantí, the National Park has an area of 58,495 ha (144,544 acres). Elevations within the park range from approximately 700 m (2,296 ft) to 3,400 m (11,154 ft) asl.
Cerro de la Muerte
In the year 2000, the park was expanded to include the infamous Cerro de la Muerte (Mountain of Death). The highest point along the entire Pan-American Highway occurs here in the Carretera Interamericana Sur segment, at 3,335 m (10,942 ft).
The higher elevations of Cerro de la Muerte also mark the northernmost extent of páramo, a highland shrub and tussock-grass habitat which is most commonly found in the Andes. It shelters a variety of rare bird species.
Ecosystems found within Tapantí - Macizo de la Muerte National Park include:
- peat bogs
- unforested savannas
- jungle forests
- tall oak cloud forests
The area constituted by the National Park is one of the wettest in Costa Rica with an average annual rainfall of more than 6,500 mm (256 in).
This wild and mossy countryside is a watershed that hosts more than 150 rivers. Waterfalls abound, vegetation is thick and the wildlife is prolific, though not always easy to see because of the rugged terrain.
The most important body of water is the Orosí River, which traverses the park. The Orosí greatly contributes to the water supply and hydroelectric energy production in the region.
Five different life zones are found within Tapantí National Park:
- very humid premontane forest
- premontane pluvial forest
- low montane rainforest
- montane forest
- subalpine rain moorland
These forests provide habitat for some 45 mammal species which include Baird's tapir, kinkajou, white-faced capuchin monkey, paca, agouti, ocelot and jaguarundi.
The park's 400 bird species include sparrow hawks, resplendent quetzals, emerald toucanets and violaceous trogons.
There are 28 species of reptiles and amphibians and a large insect population that includes the thysania agrippina, the largest moth on the American continent.