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Chirripo National Park

Chirripo National Park lies along the top of the Talamanca Mountain Range and is some 20 Km NE of San Isidro de El General. Founded in 1975, it covers an area of 50,150 hectares and contains Chirripo Mountain, the highest point in Costa Rica(3,820m). Bordering on the South with La Amistad International Park and on the North with other conservation areas, the park is part of one of the most important biological complexes on the planet.

Of course, this park is dominated by Chirripo Mountain and its surrounding lakes and cirques, all carved out by glaciers about 25,000 years ago. Although this area receives frequent freezes and little ponds and puddles will ice over, there has been no report of snow in recorded history, principally because it only goes below freezing on clear nights. The area is usually very wet but becomes quite dry from January to April, when fires often destroy areas of the park.

There are extensive areas of paramo, that high elevation, low, tangled, shrubby vegetation region so typical of the high Andes. Also there are areas of forest with considerable of the cane bamboo, Chusquea. There are great numbers of epiphytes, including brilliant red bromeliads. These must be admired in place as when transplanted to lower altitudes, they rapidly become a palid light green!

One of the most startling of plants there are the huge Puyas, those great, terrestrial members of the Bromeliad or pineapple family normally found only in the high Andes. This park is the northern-most range of these plants with their inflorescences much taller than a man.

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