Parque Nacional Los Quetzales

Parque Nacional Los Quetzales information

Lonely Planet review

Costa Rica's newest national park, formerly the Reserva Los Santos, was made official in 2005. Spread along both banks of the Río Sevegre, the park covers 5000 hectares (12,355 acres) of rain and cloud forest. With altitudes of up to 3000m (9843ft), this is the heart of the Cordillera de Talamanca, which means picturesque mountain streams, glacial lakes and a range of glorious peaks.

The lifeblood of the park is the Río Savegre, which starts high up on the Cerro de la Muerte and feeds several mountain streams and glacial lakes before pouring into the Pacific near the town of Savegre. Although relatively small, this region is remarkably diverse – the Savegre watershed contains approximately 20% of the registered bird species in Costa Rica.

True to the park's new name, the resplendent quetzal is here, along with the trogon, hummingbird and sooty robin. Avians aside, the park is home to endangered species including jaguars, Baird’s tapirs and squirrel monkeys. The park is also home to premontane forests, the second-most endangered life zone in Costa Rica.

The park has no facilities for tourists aside from a small, which collects fees. From here, a modest network of bird-watching trails radiates into the forest. All the lodges around San Gerardo de Dota organize hiking and bird-watching tours.

The park is bordered by the Interamericana; the entrance is just past Km 76. Any bus along this route can drop you off at the ranger station, though most people arrive in a private car or coach.