Barva Volcano – Braulio Carrillo National Park

Barva Crater - Braulio Carillo National Park, Costa Rica
Braulio Carillo National Park - Costa Rica


If you are staying in San Jose for a few days, don't panic! The valley has as much nature and activities to offer as the rest of the country.

When living in Costa Rica; going for a Day Tour Hike at Barva Volcano-Braulio Carillo National Park was always a good idea.

Barva Volcano: What to expect?

Barva is one of the many volcanoes within the Braulio Carillo National Park. It is not a very touristic place and the weather is always very nice for such a hike.

Braulio Carillo is a National Park that has several adventure parks within. To go to the crater of the Barva Volcano you must go to Barva, Heredia. For details on location please click here.

Barva: The Town

This is a small town on the hills and it is known for its parade of huge handmade masks, with clowns and live music going through the streets once a year.

If you go during this time, do not be frightened if you see clowns in all sizes with devil faces. Theses are the kids playing and having fun. It is a very cultural and colorful town. There is the main square and if you are lost, most people will be able to guide you to the mountain. Although most likely they will say, just continue to go up. And they are right.

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day

I highly recommend you try to get there as early as possible since the whole hike might last over 4 hours. The park opens at 8 am and starts to close at 3.30 pm. If you are in San Jose it takes a little over an hour to get there by car. You can also go by public transportation but you will have to walk over 7km from the bus stop to the entrance. It is totally worth it.

Make sure you have a good and powerful Costa Rican breakfast with Gallo Pinto, eggs and coffee before you start this tour. You can also bring your thermos and breakfast from the road and have a nice breakfast at the entrance before the hike.

This Park has four trails: Cacho de Venado, Vara Blanca Lookout, Laguna Volcán Barva, and Laguna Copey. Distances in each trail vary, as well as their conditions. Some are a little more muddy and difficult than others. Through this hike, you will find yourself surrounded by cloudy forest, a great variety of birds and other species and insects. If you pay close attention you will also find numerous of rare fungus. This is a great habitat for them and there are over hundreds of species of them.
Barva - Braulio Carillo National Park
Barva - Braulio Carillo National Park

Weather here can be tricky

Most of the time I went it has rained; although this wasn't a hard rain more like a soft drizzle with temperatures around 11° -15°C average and very humid. Costa Rica has two seasons: Wet and Dry. The rainy season on this side of the country lasts from May-June until November. If you come during this time, you must ask what time does it rain. It usually starts to rain in the afternoon around 3; theses rains can be tough. Especially in October and November; these are the worst rainy months on this side. It rains heavily and a lot.

The other few months it doesn't rain at all. Not even a drop. December is very windy, cleaning the cloudy sky from the rains. April however, is very dry and hot. You can actually perceive nature calling for water in abundance. The first rain is quite magical I must say with a nostalgic tone.

Top recommendations to be well-prepared.

Here is a list of things you must bring with yourself and recommendations for clothes to wear:

  • Water
  • Fruit and nuts (Healthy and sustainable snacks avoiding plastic usage)
  • Rain Coat
  • Hiking shoes are highly recommended due to its natural muddy conditions
  • Long pants. Temperatures can vary and it is always good protection from insects and other wild species such as spiders, sneaks and others
Barva - Braulio Carillo National Park

Time To Hike! And connect with nature.

As previously mentioned, this hike takes around 4 hours. Each path is well marked. Although, sometimes mother nature has its touch and may tear down branches or trees creating some new challenges across the way. This has happened to me the last time I went. It was after a hurricane was in the zone and one of the paths was totally shut down from the trees and branches that had fallen during the storm. Nonetheless, this is a very beautiful hike to connect with nature and yourself. If you are one of those who like to meditate or do yoga, don't forget your mat! As well as those photographers out there, this is a MUST-BRING-YOUR-CAMARA tour.

Due to its natural humidity, you will also be able to notice why it is called the cloudy forest along with the great vegetation constantly growing around you. Regarding plants, there is a great variety of trees, plants, fungus, and others. Regarding animals and insects, you are likely to see spiders, sneaks, birds, and small insects. If you are a bird-watch fan, go get your binoculars.

Barva - Braulio Carillo National Park
Barva - Braulio Carillo National Park

Have in mind that Costa Rica is home to 5% of the world's biodiversity. This being the main reason why you will also appreciate their caring for nature and mother earth. There is a great sense of caring for all living creatures; big and small.

Take a moment to listen to the silent (not silent) forest around you. I personally recommend a long stop at the Lagoon and in the lookout; the view is just amazing. Great spot for time-lapses. You can actually see the clouds moving, the sun coming through, then the shadows, sometimes you can't even see the crater for a few minutes.

A Chifrijo Stop on the way down.

The day is coming to its end; but not without a proper meal first. This was the peak of the day for me; a classic stop coming back down was Chago's Restaurant. I would always stop there for a classic Chifrijo, a cold beverage (beer was also a choice for others), and I was ready to call it day. Nowadays I don't eat meat, but If possible, I would ask for a vegetarian version of it. What is a Chifrijo you might ask? Well, Chifrijo it's a classic kind of stew with fried pork, rice, beans, pico de gallo(*), fresh avocado, and nachos.

Another option for me always was the Patacones. Oh My GOD! Those were good. Theses are a homemade kind of plantain chips with pico de gallo(*), guacamole and/or smashed beans. Perfect and nutritious vegan option.

These types of restaurants usually have a thing or two as vegetarian or vegan options, but their menu is very straightforward and with classic local meals and snacks.

Chago's Restaurante
Chago's Restaurante

A Great End to a Fantastic Day!

So by now, we've had a typical Costa Rican Breakfast, a nice long hike, and a local late-lunch. Now it's time to go for a well-deserved rest.

Depending on the time traffic can be awful, I won't lie. Just try to enjoy the journey, and if needed, remember you can always stop for a good cup of coffee.

I hope you found this information useful and I look forward to hearing about your experience!

Live, Love & Laugh
A True Nomad - Sol Acevedo

(*) Pico de Gallo: diced tomatoes, onions, chili, lemon juice, and cilantro. It goes with everything!