History of Sarapiquí

Located in the north of the country, the Sarapiquí Canton is the number 10 in the Heredia province.

In spite of its short history as a Canton, November 18th of 1970 during the second term of President Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer, its history goes back to precolonial times, in the Yori River, name given by the Votos people that inhabited these rich plains. According to costarrican writer and historian Carlos Gagini, Yori translation to Spanish is Sarapiquí.
Our colonization was determined by the will of the Spaniards to open an access route toward the San Juan River, this interest was then adopted by the local government and by the year 1915 Sarapiquí was only a district of the Heredia Canton.

The biggest town back then, now the 1st District of the Canton, which was known as Sarapiquí, adopted the name of Puerto Viejo. Already regarded as an important access point in 1856, as many ships bound for Costa Rica from Europe, it played an important role in the defense of national sovereignty when the 10th of April the filibuster army under the command of American Mercenary William Walker invades the country through Sarapiquí River, but is defeated in the battle of Sardinal by Costa Rican forces. This is the reason why Sardinal was declared National Historic Monument.

Although traditionally its principal activities were agricultural such as coffee, corn, cacao, cardamom, citric fruits, banana, palmetto, fruit trees, and cattle, nowadays the harvest of pineapple is one of its most prolific activities and an emergent tourism industry helped by our exuberant nature, rain forest, and the kindness of our people. The region shows a development tightly related to the Ecotourism and Scientific Tourism. There is also Adventure tourism, taking advantage of the River Rapids which allow the use of canoes, kayaks, and bigger inflatable boats. On the margins of the Sarapiquí River some tours are already being developed toward the San Juan River, Barra Del Colorado and Tortuguero.

Overview of the Region

*Reviews and technical information

Places of interest

Sarapiquí River: One of the best attractions in the region. It has a length of 85 kilometers. It is born in the old crater of Poás Volcano and flows merging with other rivers such as Sucio River and Puerto Viejo River.  Descends and merges with El Brujo River which is a great attractive for the River Rapid lovers. Beautiful birds, monkeys, iguanas, sloths, river turtles, and a beautiful and dense fauna can all be observed here.


National Park Poás Volcano: Located in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range. It was created January 25th of 1971 covering 5.600 acres. It possesses habitats such as the stumpy forest, areas of scarce vegetation, and cloudy forests. Plants such as epiphytes, moss, ferns, bromeliads, and orchids can be observed.


Braulio Carrillo National Park: Located in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range, between the Poás and Irazú volcanoes.  It was created the 5th of April of 1978 with an extension of 45.899.2 acres. It ranges from the Alto de la Palma to the Biological Station La Selva de Sarapiquí. It gets the name from Lic. Braulio Carrillo, 3rd Chief of State of Costa Rica (1835-37 and 1838-42). He was among the first to propose the construction of a route that would eventually connect the Central Valley with the Atlantic Coast.


Biological Reserve La Tirimbina: It is dedicated to natural history and education. It covers 350 acres of Rain Forest and to get there, an amazing hanging bridge must be crossed first (the longest in Costa Rica), located over the Sarapiquí River. You can see fishing martins, cormorants and otters.



Another unforgettable attraction is a complex system of trails, with a bridge 32 meters high, from which the top trees can be observed as well as the impressive amount of flora and fauna of the region.


79 species of birds have been identified. Among them, the Escarchero, the Quetzal, the Reinita Garganta de Fuego, The Pava Negra, the Green Tucán and several species of Hummingbird. Mammals are not as abundant in the park’s highlands, although you can find coyotes, weasels, rabbits, and some feline. The region presents a great diversity of fauna. Its rich bird diversity is represented in almost 515 species of resident and migratory birds. You can observe the king of the Buzzards, the Umbrella bird, the goldfinch and the quetzal. The mammals that inhabit the region are the White-faced monkeys, the howler monkey and the red monkey. Also the tapir, the puma, the jaguar, the zaino, the ant bear, the martilla, the mountain goat, the guatusa and the coyote. It is also refuge to several endangered species as the pavon and the tepezcuintle. Frogs, toads and reptiles are abundant, too.


The landscape is shaped by tall mountains densely covered by forests and countless rivers. Its topography is irregular and has a high annual precipitation at 4500mm. All of these characteristics form an infinity of waterfalls. The vegetation is an ever green forest, of great floristic complexion. It presents variations as weather, topography, rain water drainage, temperatures, cloudiness, and precipitation change. The tallest forests and with more wildlife are located in the lowlands while in the highland forests are low and present a low amount of wildlife. Most of the park is covered by a primary forest, in which around 6000 species of plants represent half of the number of species of the whole country. Among the most common are the manu, caoba, oak, caobilla and gavilan. In the highlands the flora has rain forest characteristics, with species such as the ciprecillo, the candelillo, the cedrillo and the white oak.ble blanco y el cedrillo.

¿Cómo llegar?

To get here there are 3 main routes, all which are less than 100 Km away from the capital city:

  • On the traditional route (route of the heroes), it's by Vara Blanca, where San Fernando and La Paz waterfalls can be seen, mountains full of primary forests, rivers, and volcanos.
  • On the Braulio Carrillo highway, through the National Park of the same name, site of overwhelming beauty and marvelous scenery.
  • By the San Carlos canton in Alajuela, where you can see crops of pineapple, palmetto, and ornamental plants.