National Park

General information:
Guayabo National Monument was established on August 13, 1.973 to protect and conserve one of the most important archeological sites in the country. It is located on the slopes of the Volcán Turrialba, 19 km northeast of the city of the same name, and forms part of the Cordillera Volcánica Central Conservation Area.

Due to its location and terrain Costa Rica contributed greatly the pre-Colombian diversity of the Americas. Recent research has rendered obsolete the old Spanish-era classification of Chorotegas, Bruncas, and Huetares; now other groups are recognized such as the Malekus. Térrabas, Cotos, Corobicíes, and Suerres, all of which lived at the same time. Guayabo is part of the cultural region called the Central Zone, which stretched from Alajuela (in Costa Rica) to Colombia,Venezuela, and northern Ecuador. The site was occupied from about 1.000 B.C. to 1.400 A.D.

Flora and fauna:

The vegetation of the area around the archeological site is mostly secondary Pre?Montane Rain Forest, with dense. evergreen foliage. The common trees are: caragra, magnolia. cantarillo, higuerón, quizarrá, burio, and cedro maría, all covered with bromeliads and orchids. Among the fauna there are birds e toucans, oropendolas, woodpeckers, and chachalacas; and mammals including armadillos, rabbits, squirrels, and coatis. There are also plenty of snakes, frogs, lizards, and butterflies.


In 1.892 Anastasio Alfaro made the first archeological discoveries at Guayabo, "excavating" and collecting artifacts that are still in the National Museum. After years of looting and vandalism, in 1.968 the archeologist Carlos J. Aguilar Piedra of the University of Costa Rica began systematic excavations to rescue this cultural heritage, and initiated efforts to protect it. Research from 1.988 to 1.994 permitted to complete the restoration of the "Caragra" calzada at the entrance to the city; it can be seen at the end of Los Monticulos Trail.

Main facts:

The archeological site covers 15 to 20 Ha, of which only a small part (4 Ha.) has been excavated. Structures indicating a high level of development have been found here. Some of the more obvious structures of the site include:

Monticulos: Generally circular dwelling foundations of various sizes. They range from 50 cm to 4.5 meters high and from 2 to 30 meters in diameter

Calzadas: "Roads" of stone used as paths and as part of the drainage system. There are several calzadas that go off for several kilometers in different directions from the main site.

Staircases: Stone structures that connect various levels.

Aqueducts: Canals, both open and covered that drain rainwater to particular areas.

Storage Tanks: Rectangular stone structures that were based to store water brought in by the aqueducts.

Tombs: Graves have been found in various parts of the site All found so far have been looted by grave robbers.

Petroglyphs and large engraved stones are the most abundant art forms present. They are found throughout the site and contain designs and symbols that are still not deciphered. As of 1.995, 62 stones with engraving had been found; one of the best known is the so?called "Jaguar and Alligator Monolith". Several sculptures have also been found. Long with a fragment of a ceremonial wood staff, which was found in a water tank. From these finds, archeologists infer hat the pre?Colombian city was inhabited by specialists in gecific fields, under the command of both a chief or a shaman who exercised political and religious power over a large area. The reason for the abandonment of the city mains unknown, as it occurred before the Spanish conquest. Some hypotheses include epidemic, famine, or war.


* The National Monument has regulations for public use that must be observed.
* If you need assistance, ask the park rangers, who will be glad t o help you.
* Don't leave any sign of your visit; collect all trash and deposit it in the containers provided.
* All the living things, plants and animals, share this planet with you. Respect them.
* Enjoy the tranquility and the natural sounds of the area.
* Don t bring radios or other disruptions.
* Many species of animals are difficult to observe; sharpen your observation skills to take in the natural richness of the area.
* For your safety sty on the trails and don't abuse the facilities. They are for you.

Enjoy your trip !