Nestled in the mountains off a less-busy stretch of the north-south highway is Parque Los Quetzales. High above, yet geographically between, two little towns called Santa Maria de Dota and San Gerardo de Dota, it is a vast plot of family owned land still home to much of Costa Rica’s native flora and fauna.

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Once off the highway, one drives a few hundred meters to find a large pond full of tilapia to the right then a scattering of lovely little secluded vacation cottages ahead and to the left at El Mirador de Quetzales.

We park the car and stare for a moment at the splendid view in front of us then check-in at the office, right next to a cute souvenir shop full of unique, handmade goodies. We are informed that the tour guides are already nearly done with their previous tours and we’re welcome to wait ten minutes, but, feeling brave, we opt to trek ourselves.

After coughing up the c3,000 colones for the use of the trail, we’re told to follow the signs with yellow arrows; after all, a yellow-brick road just wouldn’t be natural in a place like this.

So we set out on a worn but comforting footpath on a supposed four-kilometer long adventure. We were amazed at not only the abundance of tall trees, but trees wide enough to be at least a hundred years old, most covered with shaggy vines and beautiful red flowers.

Then we saw our first treat: a humble waterfall perpendicular to the trail, complete with a fallen tree from one side to the other and a little bridge just long enough to cross.

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We hear the quetzals singing above, so we made our way up the other side, unable to spot the timid, fuzzy-headed birds. We did however, come across an old, rotting tree stump that had been taken over by insects and web-crazed spiders, surrounded by various ferns.

Stopping to admire a handful of gorgeous plants and flowers, we made our way up to a monstrosity of a tree with hanging vines suitable for “George of the Jungle” to swing from. Just a few meters ahead lay what looked like a tree stump, which had been artistically enhanced by an earlier visitor.

We hear the calls of now two quetzals and press onward, but still have trouble spotting the greenish-blue caped birds with their red breasts and white tails.

After a friendly encounter with a pair of ravishing little hummingbirds, we stumbled upon another enormous tree with a den-like cavern beneath its roots large enough to house a family of four… mountain lions!

Apparently, sixty-five years ago Mr. Eddie Serrano found a whole litter of puma cubs in that very spot. A few pumas, although endangered, are still rumored to roam stealthily throughout this mountainous region, quite possibly the descendants of this very group of cubs.

After a good hour and a half of leisurely hiking, we marvel at a series of berry bushes and flowers of pink and yellow, only to be watched over by a curious cow.

Even though we didn’t see the quetzals, we knew they were there and were probably just eating lunch or fulfilling other Sunday obligations. All things considered it was a joyful little trip fit for most and recommended to all.

Living In Costa Rica Video

To watch this short video, please click on the small white triangular Play button below and allow a few seconds for the video to begin. This was filmed using a hand held video camera and not with the help of a tripod so parts are a little shaky…

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Written by VIP Member Charles Edwards who is a regular visitor to Costa Rica and dreams of retirement here “one day.”

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