Costa Rica reopens National Park after Hurricane Otto

Costa Rica will reopen three national parks that were closed down since Hurricane Otto made landfall about three weeks ago.

The Costa Rica Star broke the news and stated that authorities with the National System of Conservation Areas have restored access to sections of the Rincon de la Vieja, Tenorio Volcano and Corcovado parks. However, authorities did warn visitors “to take all necessary precautions since the rivers in these areas are still presenting a high level of water and rain is still coming down in this region.”

Reopening the parks is good news for the Costa Rica economy given the growing importance of ecotourism. The Rincon de la Vieja National Park in northwestern Costa Rica is one of the country’s best-known natural attractions as it hosts an active volcano along with hiking trails and springs. The Corcovado Park is a rainforest which hosts a massive amount of biodiversity and wildlife while offering numerous hikes and trails for the enterprising tourist.

The Destruction of Otto

As noted above, the parks were forced to close down when Hurricane Otto hit both Nicaragua and Costa Rica in late November. The storm killed at least nine individuals, destroyed homes, and caused thousands of residents to evacuate and depend on outside aid for both food and shelter. While Otto did not directly hit Costa Rica’s major population centers, with the costliest real estate, it passed through the northern part of the country where the Rincon de la Vieja Park is located. The torrential rains caused landslides which destroyed additional property and infrastructure.

In addition to the hurricane, a 7.0 earthquake with its epicenter in the Pacific Ocean also caused fears of a potential tsunami though nothing came to pass. President Luis Guillermo Solis declared three days of mourning in response to the damage.

In the weeks since the hurricane, Costa Rica and the parks have had to deal with additional heavy rains which have hampered recovery efforts. But the parks’ reopening is a sign of the progress the country has made as well as its commitment towards tourism and sustainable development. Events like the upcoming Essential Costa Rica Classic golf tournament show how the country is interested in bringing in more attention as a tourist destination.