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Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve Costa Rica: created on March 5th, 1986, in order to protected interesting examples of dry tropical forest, along with patches of evergreen and riparian forests. This reserve is part of the Tempisque Conservation Area and it is located on the southwest part of Bagaces, north of Liberia in the Guanacaste province.
Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve is often referred as the “insect park”, because of the immense variety of insects found here, where 240 species of bees have been recorded comprising almost 25% of the entire world’s bee species, along with 60 species of moths and over 60 species of nocturnal butterflies. The large, solitary bees that nest there are major pollinators of many tree and vine species in the forest. One of the more unique genus are the large, solitary, tunneling Centris bees (Abejas Antofóridas) that attracted G. Frankie to study the area in the late seventies.
However, if insects aren’t your thing, Lomas de Barbudal has excellent birdwatching potential for the species that occur in tropical dry forest such as Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis), Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa), Stub-tailed Spadebill (Platyrinchus cancrominus), Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus), Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans), Black-headed Trogon (Trogon melanocephalus), as well as the great Curassow (Crax rubra). In the dry season, mammals can usually be found enjoying the cool shade of the evergreen forest along the Cabuyo River, such as Howler and White-Face or Capuchin Monkeys (Alouatta Palliate and Cebus capucinus), Variegated Squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides), Numbat or Banded Anteaters (Myrmecobius fasciatus), White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Raccoons (Procyon lotor), Tayras (Eira barbara), Central American Agouties (Dasyprocta punctata), Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica), Greater Bulldog Bat or Fisherman Bat (Noctilio leporinus) and a lot of reptiles are among the possible species that can be seen here. As well, the reserve is one of the last strongholds habitats for endangered spectacular Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), the Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and the Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu).
When the hillside forests turn brown and leafless in the dry season, highlights the colorful blossoms of flowering trees that dot the landscape and provide pollen and nectar to all those bees. That is why the reserve also protects several species of endangered trees, such as Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), Panama redwood (Platymiscium pleiostachyum), Pochote or Spiny Cedar (Bombacopsis quinata), Ron-Ron (Astronium graveolens), Cocobolo or Rosewood (Dalbergia retusa) and Swamp Kaway (Platymiscium parviflorum), as well as the Nance or Golden Spoon (Byrsonima crassifolia) whose flowers provide an oily resin that the Centris bees use as mortar in tunnel construction, and the Corteza Amarilla (Tabebuia ochracea) which is renowned for the small yellow flowers that encase its naked branches following the first rains.
At the reserve you will know Don Daniel, the person who guards this wonderful place, an old dedicated man, who worries about the reserve protection and preservation. If you stay enough time, you will hear from him a lot of very interesting stories about the zone and his own life.
If you’re interested in hiking through the Lomas de Barbudal Reserve, stop at Friends of Lomas de Barbudal office in Bagaces, a non-profit organization which protects the area. Here visitors can pick up trail guides and study the small exhibits they have on the region. Also, at the reserve entrance there is a small museum called Casa Patrimonio (Heritage House) which can give you even more information of the area and details of the flora and fauna of the reserve.
A number of other unmarked trails and roads wander through the reserve, welcoming visitors to explore on foot. Guides are available at the park office to assist visitors in locating fauna. From the visitor’s center (Casa de Patrimonio) on the northwest tip of the reserve, the most popular walk is a short quarter mile upstream (300m) along the Río Cabuya to a swimming hole, or “poza” (in Spanish), containing many different fish, so snorkeling is well worth to take a look around, where you may feel a little like you’re swimming in your home aquarium when you see the Convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) or feel the Green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) nibbling at your toes. This watering hole, besides being a perfect place for a cooling dip, attracts concentrations of wildlife in the dry season.
Along the southern edge of the reserve lies the Quebrada La Mula, a seasonal stream and forest area that once formed a continuous greenway between Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve and Palo Verde National Park.
Visitors recognized the region as one of the last remaining stands of tropical dry forest where weather is hot year-round with a pronounced dry season from December through April. As is the case with Palo Verde National Park, dry season is the best time to visit the reserve, since birding is easier once the deciduous forests shed their leaves, leaving avian fauna in plain sight. Lomas Barbudal is at its most spectacular in March, when the Corteza Amarilla trees (Tabebuia ochracea) are totally covered with yellow flowers.
The riverside woodland that forms a fringe along the rivers and streams is evergreen and considered the densest and most divers in the area, which is especially rich in solitary wasps. Besides, the savannah, covered in grassland, is dotted with trees, forming a wonderful landscape. Other habitats here are xerophytic or extremely dry woodlands, which is very rich in cacti and land bromeliads, oak forest (Quercus oleoides) and regenerated forest.
Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve is situated in the lower parts of the Tempisque River near Palo Verde Nacional Park. The offices are located on the banks of the River Cabuyo, 18 km from Bagaces. Near the offices, next to the River Cabuyo, there is a picnic area with tables and toilets and there also is a visitor centre between the offices and the river. Other nearby Costa Rica national parks includes Palo Verde National Park, Dr. Rafael Lucas Rodriguez Caballero National Wildlife Refuge and Barra Honda National Park.
Caution: visitors allergic to bee stings should not get in to the refuge without a bee-sting kit, as the swarming Africanized “killer’ bees are amongst the numerous species of bee that inhabit the park.
Getting to Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve:
From San José, take the Interamerican Highway north to Bagaces. Then turn southeast near km 221 (10 km northwest of Bagaces, 14 km southeast of Liberia) and drive for approximately 12km to the park entrance. A sign notifies visitors of the appropriate turnoff to the entrance of Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve (4WD recommended). The visitor’s center at Casa de Patrimonio is 7 km south at the bottom of a steep hill that affords a panoramic view of the area you’re about to explore. Consider parking at the top and walking in to the visitors center when road conditions are marginal.
Alternatively, there is a very rugged 4WD road leading northwest from the entrance station of Palo Verde National Park. Check with the rangers for current conditions and regulations before setting out on this route. Now you can also take the new Caldera Highway to Puntarenas and then follow the Pan-American Highway.
From Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR), drive south for some 14 km from Liberia to Bagaces. Then turn southeast and drive for approximately 12 km to the park entrance. A sign notifies visitors of the appropriate turnoff to the entrance of Lomas Barbudal Biological Reserve (4WD recommended). The visitor’s center at Casa de Patrimonio is 7 km south at the bottom of a steep hill that affords a panoramic view of the area you’re about to explore. Consider parking at the top and walking in to the visitors center when road conditions are marginal.
Take a local bus from San Jose – Liberia, which takes about 4 hours making the stop at Bagaces (Pulmitan Liberia, +506 2222-1650). From here you can rent a car and drive, or take a bus or taxi to Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve, which is about 15 minutes.
You can also take a flight from the Juan Santamaria Airport to Daniel Oduber Airport, either with Sansa Airlines or Nature Air every day. From here you can rent a car and drive, or take a bus or taxi to Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve, which is about 45 minutes.
Location: 15 kilometers southwest of Bagaces, district: Bagaces, canton: Bagaces, province: Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 50401.
Pijije GPS coordinates: 10.540903,-85.342181 (10°32’27.25″N, 85°20’31.85″W)
Size: 2,279 hectares (5,636 acres)
Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) Telephone: +506 2686-4967 / +506 2686-4968
INFOTUR Tourist Information: 1192