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La Cangreja National Park Costa Rica: virgin forest declared protected area in 1984 (Protected Areas in Costa Rica are areas with special regulation to protect the hydrographic and terrestrial resources and are meant to keep the environment). On June 5th, 2002, the World-Environment-Day, the government declared La Cangreja as a National Park, to protect the last stronghold of primary forest areas in Puriscal, Costa Rica. The preservation of La Cangreja was inspected by the Ecotropica Foundation with a special meaning, not only for the protection of the biodiversity, but also for the profit it involves for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. Thanks to this, the government also enlarged the area up to 2240 hectares; mainly to prize the realized efforts of the Ecotropica Foundation and a big amount of coworkers who helped.
The name La Cangreja refers to the caracteristic shape of the “La Cangreja Hill”, with 1305m high. If you look at this hill from above, it gives the impression of an enormous crab (“cangrejo” in Spanish) of which the ridges leaving from the top seem to be the animal paws.
On the other hand, the Indian history talks about a giant crab, which placed itself on the top of the hill during earthquakes and blocked passage for the villagers who wanted to go to the nearby hamlets. At a certain moment, a brave warrior stood up against the crab and managed to cut off one of the animal paws. For this reason the crab got furious, but finally it surrendered by changing itself into a rock. This is why the highest part of the hill still is rocky.
Now La Cangreja National Park forms a precious heritage for the canton of Puriscal and the entire region. Its administration and protection is by the authority of the MINAE. This obviously doesn’t mean that the local community and municipality not longer take part in the development and protection of the park.
The study of a young American student, Ann-Marie Parsons, and other formal studies, confirmed that La Cangreja contains the last virgin natural areas that exist in the region of Puriscal. The forest is also the most important water supply for nearby communities and serves as well as climate stabilization. The presence of two different life zones, Tropical Humid Forest and Pre-Montane Humid Forest, a varied topography, heavy humidity and more than 160 inches annual precipitation, create an area with extremely diverse flora and fauna.
This area of Costa Rica is of particular interest to biologists. Researchers have already found several new species unique to the area. The site bears a striking resemblance to the forests of the Osa Peninsula, with a marked predominantly South American species. The climate is very humid and hot with a moderate dry season. The dry season runs from December to April and the rainy season from May to November. The precipitation and temperature annual average is 3435 mm and 27°C, respectively.
Preliminary studies until 1993 were identified approximately 800 plant species. However, some of the most diverse groups as ferns, orchids, aroids and bromeliads have been little studied. Several species have been identified endemic or restricted in the country, Plinia puriscalensis Myrtaceae family and Mastatalensis Ayenia Sterculiaceae family, have only has been collected at this site. Some other species like Unonopsis theobromifolia a Anonaceae and Ternstroemia multiovulata, family Theaceae were described for the flora of the country in this area protective, although subsequently been collected in other areas including the Osa Peninsula. In a study on the floristic composition done in 1998 (Acosta, 1998) was achieved identify 193 species of trees, which are distributed in 126 genera and 56 families. Of identified species 84 are new records for this protected area.
It also presents 17 species of timber widely used commercially in Costa Rica, some of which are in danger of extinction like the hide of a bull (Tachigalia versicolor), garlic (Caryocar costaricense), the quira (Caryodaphnopsis burgeri), the IPE (Tabebuia guayacan) rum rum (Astronium graveolens), Nazarene (Peltogyne purpurea), cachimbo (Couratari guianensis), Christopher (Platymiscium pinnatum) and balsam (Myroxylon balsamum).
Among the highlights fauna, white-faced monkey (Cebus capucinus), sloth (Choloepus hoffmanii), armadillo (Dasypus novemcintus), coyote (Canis latrans), raccoon (Procyon lotor), paca (Agouti paca), coati (Nasua narica), hairless fox (Didelphis marsupialis), lion jaguarundi (Herpailuris yaguaroundi) Caucel (Leopardus felis), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and a large number of bat species. The birds that have reported the gallina de monte (Tinamou), the bell bird (Procne tricarunculata), the quióro or Curre black (Ramphastos swainsonii), the Toucanet (Pteroglosus frantzii) and several species of owls.
La Cangreja can be retained by means of a plan of preservation, protection and sustained use, of which the task is the protection of La Cangreja and its buffer zone, by means of long term plans, to preserve the forest and to inspire to a sense of understanding, connection and responsibility with regards to the forest, to the people and to the adjoining communities. Other nearby Costa Rica parks include Fernando Castro Cervantes Wildlife Refuge, Carara National Park and Cacyra Wildlife Refuge.
Getting to La Cangreja National Park:
Take the highway out of San Jose, Costa Rica towards Ciudad Colón and Puriscal (Santiago). From Santiago de Puriscal, you need to follow the old road to Parrita. Turn left, where signposting is indicated. The park is situated in the village of Mastatal, 45 kilometers southeast of Santiago de Puriscal. During the rainseason, this road is only accesible for 4×4 cars. In the dry season you can also reach La Cangreja with other vehicles.
Take a bus from the route San Jose – Quepos by Puriscal which takes about 2 hours, (Transportes Delio Morales, 2223-5567). From here you can take taxi to La Cangreja National Park.
You can also take a bus from the route San Jose – Puriscal which takes about 1 hour, (Comtrasuli, 2258-3903). From here you can take taxi or take another bus Puriscal – Mastatal, which takes about 2 hours to La Cangreja National Park.
From Quepos, you can bus from the route San Jose – Quepos by Puriscal which takes about 2 hours, making the stop at Santa Rosa (Transportes Delio Morales, 2223-5567). Be sure to tell the driver you will get off there, and make sure you are on the bus that goes through Puriscal. From here you can take taxi or take another bus Santa Rosa – Mastatal which takes about 45 minutes to La Cangreja National Park.
For any of the three routes we recommend consulting the respective schedules to make connections. Similarly, it is advisable to arrive early to be sure you get a seat.
Location: district: Chires, canton: Puriscal, province: San José, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 10409.
Puriscal GPS Coordinates: 9.847961,-84.309414 (9°50’52.66″N, 84°18’33.89″W)
Size: 2240ha (5533 acres)
Altitude: 350m (1050ft) to 1305m (3915ft)
Entropica Foundation telephone: 2416-6359
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC) Telephone: +(506) 2416-7878
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192