The refuge is 27 kms from Cartago via Paraíso-Orosí-Purisil-Tapantí-Refuge Headquarters. Tapantí National Wildlife Refuge, with 4,715 hectares and the greatest amount of rain and cloud cover in the country, is located in the Eastern Central Valley, 20 kms southeast of the City of Cartago.
It straddles the northern slopes of the Talamanca Mountain Range, between 1,200 and 2,540 meters above seal level. The rain is constant, in the form of torrential downpours, showers and drizzles. The rivers rush headlong down the steep slopes, feeding a vast network of waterways that belong to the River Grande de Orosí and are used to generate hydroelectric energy.
In such a steep and rainy invironment, the trees do not need to put down deep roots to get water. As a result, they are easy victims of landslides and tremors, which are frequent in this river basin. The avalanches of mud and rocks have swept away bridges and roads downstream in the Reventazón River Valley.
If trees do not have deep roots, they cannot support thick branches and large crowns and therefore these forests are only of medium height. On the other hand they house a wealth of epiphytes, palms, bamboo stands, and tree ferns. A cloud forest, thick with mosses and bromeliads, grows above 1,500 metres.
This region of excessively damp climate, which ranges from hot to cool with average temperatures between 12,5°C and 19,5°C provides shelter for innumerable buterflies as well as vertebrates, the most distinctive being the resplendent quetzals, toucans, hummingbirds, band-tailed pigeons, Neotropic river otters, Northern tamanduas, white-nosed coaties, collared peccaries, silky anteaters, howler monkeys and three-toed sloths.
Endangered species, such as the tapir, jaguar, ocelot, tiger cat and jaguraundi, also find a protective habitat in the refuge. The most conspicuous trees in the forest are the oak, winter bark's tree, weetwood, lancewood and poro. The best time to visit is from February to the end of April.