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Volcan Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens

March 31, 2012

We had heard that the best chance of getting a view of the crater of Volcan Poas was to be there early in the morning. The park doesn’t open until 8am so we decided to camp outside the park overnight and go in as soon as it opened.

This didn’t go to plan though as we woke to rain and low cloud. We went into the park anyway but there were no views to be had. We did hike through the cloudforest though but didn’t really see anything exciting apart from a few orchids, Hummingbirds and Black Guans.

After this wash out we drove across to a place called La Paz Waterfall Gardens. We knew this was going to be expensive but had heard good things so we stumped up the cash ($35 each) to go in. As we were parking the attendant asked if we were staying the night – we thought this was a good idea and it meant we could get our monies worth by staying in the gardens all day.

The main attraction at the Waterfall gardens is a walk through the rainforest along a river where there are three large waterfalls. However there is much more to the place than that.

The first area we went to was a big aviary that you can walk through. This was a big netted area where the birds were allowed to fly free  – there were a few cages within the aviary for birds that wouldn’t play nicely with others. There was also a specific toucan room with free flying toucans.

The next area was a big butterfly building. This had lots of flowers growing in it as well as hundreds of free flying butterflies. However they also breed butterflies here so there were trees with eggs on, caterpillars and also racks of chrysalis. Some of the chrysalis had butterflies emerging from them.

Also in this room was a cage with a Kinkajou in it that like having its belly rubbed – although it took a dislike to Sarah for some reason. There was also a cage with a mother and baby sloth in it – this was our first sloth encounter – they are fascinating creatures who move in slow motion like they are doing taichi.

We walked through an area with a whole bunch of hummingbird feeders around which there were a whole bunch of birds.

Next stop was to walk around the captive cats. There are margays, ocelots, pumas and the most impressive of them all a big male jaguar. We were lucky enough to see the jaguar moving around and its an awe inspiring sight. I’m just glad there were walls between us !

After the cats we went to the Serpentarium where each of the most poisonous central American snakes were housed. The surprise was how big the bushmaster is – the most dangerous of the snakes.

My favourite stop was the ranarium (that’s a frog house) where there were green eyed tree frogs as well as posion dart frogs. The frogs were all loose in the rooms and part of the fun was finding them in amongst the foliage.

All this plus an orchid garden and then we walked the waterfall trail which was a downhill walk along wooden walkways through forest alongside a river.

At the end of the walk is a gift shop (which was a surprise) and a shuttle bus back to the entrance (a nice touch because it’s a steep uphill walk back – the luxuries you get for $35). While we were waiting for the shuttle a group of Coatis came up out of the woods. They seemed very unafraid and one of them licked my leg as I was standing taking pictures!


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