Proyecto Asis

Arenal & Northern Lowlands

It’s an animal rescue center. It’s a volunteer project. It’s Spanish classes. This community-based organization is doing a lot of good, and you can help. The introductory experience is a two-hour tour of the wildlife rescue center, but it’s worth springing for the half- or full-day ‘volunteering’ experience, which includes hands-on interaction with the animals. You'll see monkeys and birds, as well as pizotes, peccaries and more. Close-toed shoes are obligatory; bug repellent is recommended.

Most the animals have been seized from private hands (it's illegal in Costa Rica to have wild animals as pets) and some, but not all, are returned to the wild. There's also wild, uncaged animals onsite, such as birds – including a growing colony of boat-billed herons, toucans and manakins – plus caimans and bats. Keep a sharp eye out.

Asis also offers homestays in the local community. It’s located in Jabillo, about halfway between Ciudad Quesada and La Fortuna. Any Fortuna–Quesada bus which passes through Chachagua (US$2.80, 40 min) can drop you here; just ask the driver. Asis can also arrange a taxi for you. Reserve at least a day in advance.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Arenal & Northern Lowlands attractions

1. Centro Turistico Las Iguanas

8.38 MILES

This bridge is a popular spot for tourists en route from La Fortuna to Caño Negro. Countless iguanas hang out in the bamboo and trees above the river,…

2. Ecocentro Danaus

8.43 MILES

This center, 4km east of town, has a well-developed trail system that’s excellent for birding, as well as for spotting mammals such as coatis and agoutis …

3. Catholic Church

9.38 MILES

This prominent landmark oversees the central plaza of La Fortuna. The landscaped green is often dotted with outdoor art exhibits and souvenir stands, and…

4. Catarata Río Fortuna

10.3 MILES

You can glimpse the sparkling 70m ribbon of clear water that pours through a sheer canyon of dark volcanic rock arrayed in bromeliads and ferns with…

5. Bosque Nuboso El Cocora

12.8 MILES

This short trail around a nice garden is a pretty, if a little pricey, place to stretch your legs on the way to the high cloud forest or Lands in Love…

6. Arenal Natura


Located 6km west of La Fortuna, this is a well-manicured nature experience that includes frogs, turtles, snakes and crocs, all in their appointed places…

7. Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal

14.21 MILES

From 1968 until 2010, Volcán Arenal was an ever-active and awe-striking natural wonder, producing menacing ash columns, massive explosions and streams of…