Palo Verde National Park is an extremely important area in Costa Rica as it encompasses over 45,000 acres (18210 hectares) of the Tempisque Conservation area and one of the most endangered ecosystems in Central America, tropical dry forest.
Furthermore, there are 15 different kinds of habitats from mangroves to swamps in Palo Verde, all home to thousands of animals throughout the year. During rainy season the Tempisque river overflows, creating the perfect habitat for the wildlife to spend their winter months.
If you want to see wildlife in Guanacaste, Palo Verde National Park is one of the best places. Check out our guide for tips on visiting. This post has been updated October 2018.
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Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour
The best way to experience the national park is by taking a guided boat tour down the river to go wildlife watching. The boat tour is about 2 hours long, going down the Tempisque River in a 20-25 seat motor boat.
The Palo Verde National Park boat tour is an excellent day trip from Playas del Coco, Tamarindo, Gulf of Papagayo, Conchal and Liberia. It’s also a great tour for families and senior citizens who may have trouble walking long distances but want to see wildlife and nature.
The first time we did this tour was with my parents and grandmother who really enjoyed it as she just got to sit back and relax!
Palo Verde National Park Animals
Here are some photos of the tour and animals.
We have done this tour a few times and enjoyed every single time. For anyone who wants to see wildlife in Guanacaste, this is one of the best options.
Palo Verde National Park Boat Tours
If you don’t have transportation and need recommendations for a tour company, feel free to contact us. Tours run around $90-120 per person which includes roundtrip transportation, lunch, bilingual guide and refreshments.
If you have a car and don’t want to book a full tour with transportation
The national park itself does not offer boat tours, you will have to book one with a tour company if you’d like a proper guided tour.
For those who go to the park by themselves, you will find some locals at the river entrance who will offer to take you on a boat ride. However, this isn’t a full tour – it’s just a boat ride (most of the boat drivers don’t speak fluent English) so you won’t have a guide pointing out animals or sharing information. The most will be the boat driver pointing out some monkeys or iguanas close by.
El Viejo Wetlands
If you have a car and want to take a boat tour down the river, we recommend going to El Viejo instead. El Viejo wetlands is an hacienda or local farm that offers boat tours down the Tempisque River outside the national park. They also offer lunch and a cultural tour which is very nice. Their facilities are very nice and offer a great local farm experience.
Palo Verde National Park Location
Here is the Palo Verde National Park map.
Entrance Fee/Park Hours
The Palo Verde National Park entrance fee is $12 per person.
What To Bring and Other Things to Know
For the Palo Verde National Park boat tour, definitely your camera! DSLR would be perfect for this trip to capture those great shots and bring the telephoto zoom lens. A light jacket (during rainy season in case), binoculars if you have one to get a close up view, a wildlife field guide if you want, sunscreen and bug repellent.
The best time to go to Palo Verde National Park is during summer (December – April). This is because all the migratory birds are in Costa Rica so you will see way more birds. If you visit after May, you won’t see as many birds but you can see baby reptiles.
The Tempisque Valley and river is also home to the largest bird in Costa Rica, the jabiru. There are only around 75 left in the country and we were able to see a family at the El Viejo wetlands. So if you are an avid birdwatcher, Palo Verde is a place you must visit in Costa Rica!
Want to read about other national parks in Costa Rica? Here you go!
Manuel Antonio National Park: A popular national park in the Central Pacific with white sand beaches, hiking trails and lots of wildlife. About 3 hours from San Jose.
Barra Honda National Park: A national park in Nicoya that protects dry tropical forest and has a plethora of caves. You can go hiking or take a guided caving tour.
Arenal Volcano National Park: Popular national park in the Northern lowlands, near La Fortuna city. Has the Arenal Volcano and rainforest. Great hiking and views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.
Poas Volcano National Park: Home to Poas Volano, one of the largest volcano craters. Newly reopened in 2018. Short walk to the volcano crater, reservations required. About a 1.5 hour drive from San Jose.
Tortuguero National Park: One of the best national parks for wildlife, especially turtles and birds. No road access as they are rainforest covered sandbars and canals. Must go via plane or boat.