Naturalist and explorer Charles Darwin himself paid the spot a visit in 1834, hiking to the top of the scenic hill that gave the park its name. With various types of hawks, alligators, eagles, snakes, owls, and giant frogs, it´s no wonder UNESCO has recognized the area as a Biosphere Reserve for its high number of unique species.
Those wanting to recreate Darwin's journey can take the El Andinista Trail (Sendero El Andinista), which lasts the average hiker around five hours and is quite a difficult climb. Enthusiasts will be rewarded at the summit by a plaque commemorating Darwin's accomplishment and, more importantly, a panoramic view of the Andes and surrounding coastal valleys – even a sliver of the Pacific Ocean, if the day is particularly clear. Just don´t forget to register at the checkpoint for more detailed advice and important guidelines to follow while trekking.
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