When you are visiting San Jose, explore the largest urban park of Costa Rica covering 720,000 square meters.
Located in the Mate Redondo District, La Sabana park was constructed in the grounds of the old airport. When the airport moved out, the government transformed the area into a national park. It became known as the ‘lungs of San Jose' – a beautiful vast green space covered in pines, cypresses, and eucalyptus.
The park is a local hangout, ideal to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is estimated that around 40,000 people visit the park each week.
The park is home to some 347 species of plants, mammals, birds and, insects – it's basically a jungle inside the city. But it is also home to other important landmarks such as the National Stadium.
The new stadium was a gift from the Chinese government and its construction cost around 110 million. It is the most modern stadium in all Central America and home to the national team.
Find also the Costa Rican Art Museum, the History and Technology Museum, and the Science museum. The latter features exotic and endemic flowers from the world, a full exhibition of Dinosaurs with an impressive replica of a T. Rex, an exhibit of taxidermy, and a collection of fossils.
A cross, built in memory of the visit Pope Saint Jean Paul in 1983, is another of the places you might want to check out.
Things to do
La Sabana park has it all. Enjoy jogging facilities with a track marked with the number of kilometers that ends in a meadow where you can sit and relax while you enjoy the views. If you feel like practicing some sports or checking out the locals' team practice, drop by either the tennis courts, the soccer fields, or the basketball and volleyball courts.
Some people might be playing just for fun, so don't be afraid to join. Josefinos, as people from the capital are known, are friendly folks. There's also an inline skating park, a field to play hockey, and a running track.
Elsewhere, take a stroll to admire the natural setting and breathe in the fresh air, feed the geese in the lake, or enjoy a picnic under the shade of a tree. In the lake, you can also fish and rent a pedal boat to ride across.
In addition, find ice-cream stands and snack shops offering local delicacies, fruits, and beverages.
Recent natural findings
Recent efforts such as reforestation with native trees has led to the return of a variety of native species, including 41 bird species, four bat species, and four dragonfly species, plus two new mammal species and some aquatic species in the lake. All of them are drawn by the evolution of the natural habitat.
The bats were a surprising find. Studies say they are attracted by fruits and nectar of the trees. They play a key part in the pollination process as well as in controlling the mosquito population—one bat can eat 60,000 mosquitoes in one night.
Good to know
It is advisable to avoid the park during the night.