Image by ©Juan Carlos Vindas Getty Images

All jagged peaks and glacial lakes, the park covers 50 sq km of rain and cloud forest. True to the park's name, the beautiful quetzal is here, along with the trogon and sooty robin. Avians aside, resident endangered species including jaguars, Baird’s tapirs and squirrel monkeys.

A modest network of ill-maintained birdwatching trails radiates into the forest. The lodges around San Gerardo de Dota organize hiking and birdwatching tours.

The entrance is just past Km 76 on the Interamericana.

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. With altitudes of up to 3000m, this is the heart of the Cordillera de Talamanca, and the park is also home to premontane forests, the second-most endangered life zone in Costa Rica.

Any bus along this route can drop you off at the ranger station, though most people arrive in a private car or coach.