Guatopo National Park is located in the interior range of Central Cordillera de la Costa, south of Caracas, bordering the states of Miranda and Guárico. Its northern border is the mid-portion of the Cordillera de la Costa and the Barlovento Plains. To the south it borders the Piedmont Plains. To the east and west, the interior range continues as well as the Valles de Tuy. It covers approximately 122,464 hectares and has mountainous relief, with abrupt slopes and altitudes from 200 to 1,430 m (Cerro Azul is the highest point). Most of the park is located between the altitudes of 200 and 600 m (MARNR 1992, Yerena 1985).
Guatopo National Park is located in the Interior Range, south of Caracas (photo © César Aponte)
The park's predominate climate is warm and rainy, with annual average precipitation varying between 1,400 and 2,800 mm. In certain parts of the park, like Agua Blanca, Taguacita, La Colonia, El Jobito, Guatopo and Casupito, there are two heavy rainy seasons each year: one between July and August, the other between November and December. However, in other zones like Quiripital and Lagartijo, there is only one heavy rainy season during July and August. In general, the driest season with the least amount of rain is between February and March (Yerena 1985).
Average annual temperature ranges between 18 and 32 ºC. The hottest months are May, September and October; the coolest months are January, June and July. Park sectors above 1,100 m in altitude have a more temperate high-altitude tropical climate where average annual temperatures are 18º C and below, and where cloud forest vegetation dominates (Yerena 1985).
The topography and climatic regimes are fundamental factors in the area's hydrography. There are many rivers and creeks that supply water to the city of Caracas and to neighboring communities in the Tuy Valleys and Central Plains; The Lagartijo, Taguaza, Taguacita, and Cuira Rivers are located on the northern slope and the Orituco is on the south slope (MARNR 1992, Yerena 1985).
Relative humidity reaches its maximum in July/August (99.5%) and in December. Relative humidity is lowest during March and April (42.3%). The most humid sectors are the basins of the Taguaza and Cuira Rivers, located towards the east, which receive the Trade Winds from the north/northeast. The driest zones are towards the west in the basins of the Taguacita and Lagartijo Rivers. Southern winds also exert a certain amount of influence on the area and contribute to the second peak in rains at the end of the year (Yerena 1985).