San Jose to La Paz Waterfalls - Interbus

Transportation Services


From San Jose downtown and from San Jose Airport to La Paz Waterfalls, we have Private Services. Please find right below complete information. You will be able to make reservations and pay online right away by clicking on the "BOOK NOW" button or if you have questions and comments please send them all by clicking on the "INQUIRE" button.


Private VIP Service: (departing any time of your election)

Private Service Rate:

$190 for the service from 1 up to 6 passengers / 1 hour drive

Service Description: (Private Service San Jose to La Paz Waterfalls)

This is a private service with your own driver and own vehicle door to door. At the time of your election our driver will go to the location of your preference to pick you up from there you will be assisted. If needed we will stop in a restaurant, supermarket or drugstore.

Rate for the service, not person. from 1 up to 6 passengers. Rates vary depending on your drop off location and if the service is operated between 6pm and 6am.

You will be drop off directly at the location of your preference. Advance reservations required




Other Popular Routes from San Jose:

San Jose to Manuel Antonio

San Jose to Jaco

San Jose to Nicoya

San Jose to Puerto Viejo

San Jose to Tamarindo

San Jose Monteverde

San Jose to Santa Teresa

San Jose to Montezuma

San Jose to Papagayo

Other Popular Routes from La Paz Waterfalls:

La Paz Waterfalls to San Jose Airport

La Paz Waterfalls to La Paz Waterfalls

La Paz Waterfalls to Jaco

La Paz Waterfalls to Tamarindo

La Paz Waterfalls to Liberia

La Paz Waterfalls to Monteverde

La Paz Waterfalls to Santa Teresa

La Paz Waterfalls to Montezuma

La Paz Waterfalls to Papagayo


Add us to your WhatsApp and contact us any time you need!!!:

WhatsApp: + 506 8849 8569
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This touristy garden complex just east of Volcán Poás is host to 3.5km of hiking trails and five scenic waterfalls, including the largest, La Catarata de la Paz (Peace Waterfall). Visitors can also tour a butterfly conservatory, a hummingbird garden, an aviary, an orchid display, a serpentarium, a ranarium (frog garden), and wildlife areas that host native cats and monkeys of Costa Rica. It’s an ideal spot for active seniors and small children, since many of the trails are smooth and well maintained.

You can stay onsite at the Peace Lodge (Tel 2482-2720;; .d. standard/deluxe/villa. US$375/445/575, US$40/20;.p W s ), whose over-the-top rooms boast gorgeous valley views, private deck with Jacuzzi, fireplace and huge bathroom with another Jacuzzi tub. There’s also a heated outdoor infinity pool complete with heated waterfall.


La Paz Waterfall Gardens

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is the #1 Most Visited Privately Owned Ecological Attraction in Costa Rica featuring the best hiking near San José, the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica, rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 species of animals and an environmental education program

Admission to La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park for 2015



Adult $40.00

Child $24.00 (03 to 12 years)

Locals and Residents

Adult $22.0

Child $13.00 (03 to 12 years)


Buffet Lunch Colibries Restaurant:


Adult $14.00
Child $8.00 (03 to 12 years)

Locals and Residents

Adult $14.00
Child $8.00 (03 to 12 years)

Our Buffet received the Highest Rating (4 Forks) possible from the Tourism Council. It includes multiple selections of Traditional Costa Rican Dishes, Full Salad Bar, Pizza, Garlic Bread, French Fries, Fresh Fruits, Rice Pudding and unlimited fresh fruit juice, coffee and tea.

A la Carte Dining is available in our Big Trout Bar Restaurant and at Tortillas Restaurant

Guided "Behind the Scenes Animal Encounter Tour":

$50 per hour
Average Tour Time is 2 hours - Maximum Group Size is 15.

Space is limited so we recommend making a reservation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



One day tour from San José
Pick up time between (10:00 am - 11:00 am)

Rates 2015

From December 16, 2014 until December 15, 2015
Adult: $88 / Children (3-12 years): $78

It includes: Transportation, bilingual tour guide, entry fee and buffet lunch.


Costa Rica Tel/Fax: +(506) 22681643   Cell phone +(506) 83714679
U.S.A Phone: 209 207 3140 e mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tour director: Olman Arce Mejía Certified Tour Guide Lic. I.C.T. # 424

More information about this tour and reservations here


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Attractions at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica

When you think about Costa Rica, you probably imagine lush tropical rain forest, flowing white rivers, spectacular waterfalls, birds, butterflies, monkeys, sloths, snakes, frogs and jaguars. At La Paz Waterfall Gardens, you are guaranteed to see all that and more.

Waterfall Gardens is open year round from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with our last shuttle pick up from the exit trail at 5:00 p.m. We recommend our last visitors to enter the park at 3:00 p.m. to insure that they have enough time to walk the primary trails. Reservations are not necessary. We can accommodate earlier arrivals and later departures with an advance request.

With over 3.5 kilometers of walking trails and 10 animal exhibits to enjoy, we recommend a minimum of 2 hours for your visit. However, if you would like to see every trail and thoroughly enjoy the time spent in the Butterfly Observatory, Hummingbird Garden, Serpentarium, Frog Exhibit, Tica House, Trout Lake and our bird watching areas, you will probably want to stay the whole day.

Waterfall Gardens is primarily a self-guided tour allowing our visitors to proceed directly to their areas of interest. However, we highly recommend the guided tour (as available) to receive the most information and impact from your visit.

“What if it rains?” This is the Rainforest for goodness sake! Seriously, sometimes it does rain here and sometimes it doesn’t stop! However, we do offer raincoats for sale and our trails are designed so you will have places to stop and take cover. However, we do not offer ‘rain days’ for paid tours.

What should you bring? A DIGITAL MEMORY CARD WITH A LOT OF SPACE!! No, that’s just our biased opinion. We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes (preferably with a thick tread for hiking the trails and hundreds of stairs), shorts or comfortable pants and a lightweight jacket or raincoat. Please keep in mind that the park ranges in altitude from 5,200 feet to 4,200 feet so it can get chilly when the clouds roll in.


Our Attractions

Five waterfalls, cloud forest and rain forest, safe hiking trails, aviary with 40 species of birds, toucan feeding, marmoset monkeys,  insect exhibit, butterfly observatory and butterfly gardens, butterfly laboratory, two-toed sloths, Capuchin (white-faced) monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, hummingbird garden with 26 documented species, hummingbird hand feeding in the mornings and afternoons, serpentarium (snake exhibit), Jaguar, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundi, margays, casita de la paz with petting zoo and ox cart, ranarium (frog exhibit), orchid exhibit, heliconia exhibit, bromeliad exhibit.  All of these offered at one place makes us the best eco park in Costa Rica. 
We offer special discounts for religious missionary groups and nonprofit environmental education groups and school groups.  Please contact us with information about your group.  



As you wander the trails of La Paz Waterfall Gardens your senses will delight at the five waterfalls that line the trail. Originally, the only way one could view the falls was by literally hanging over the side of the mountain, looking through trees and ferns, not very inviting for picture taking. With the construction of Waterfall Gardens, guests are afforded views from platforms above, below and in front of the falls for great waterfall photo opportunities. The park has the closest waterfalls to San José and Poás Volcano. The La Paz Waterfall is the most famous waterfall in Costa Rica where visitors often stop on the road to take photos on their way to Sarapiquí or Arenal but the best waterfalls are actually above the La Paz waterfall along a steep canyon accessed by our safe hiking trails making these five waterfalls the most easily accessible waterfalls in Costa Rica. On our Magia Blanca waterfall viewing platform you can actually take a photo under the waterfall. Great photo opportunities can be found at Templo waterfall and Encantada waterfall as well. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a “must see” attraction when you are in the Poás Volcano area.


Jungle Cats

Our newest addition to Waterfall Gardens is the Jungle Cat exhibit.  Walk on the wild side as you come face to face with a 200 lb. Jaguar looking back at you through safety glass.  Through our educational signage you will discover interesting facts about all six of the species of wild felines of the tropical Americas.  The Jaguarundi is our own welcome committee as he delights in playing hide and seek and showing off his speed and agility. Our friendly pumas leap around their habitat and often come to greet our visitors, and our breeding pair of jaguars will delight you with their affectionate behaviors as they play, lick and snuggle together.  Here you will see five out of the six species of endangered Central American Cats and as soon as we can build another habitat we will bring our Oncilla from our sister property The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal to represent all six of the species found in North, Central and South America.

The center that previously housed these animals lost funding and had to close.  The MINAE (the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment) did not have the resources to care for the 35 felines so they were placed under the care of La Paz Waterfall Gardens.   The cats were either very old, injured, or had been exposed to humans for too long to be released back into the wild. Our mission is to preserve the genetics of the wild cat species in Costa Rica.

Please note that we are completely against the capture or trade of illegally confiscated animals and we will one day seek to release the offspring of our cats into protected zones if a safe and reliable training program can be developed to do so. 


The Life of a Butterfly

Our on site laboratory is a breeding ground for over 25 species of butterflies in Costa Rica. It offers an interesting perspective into the stages of development of the most colorful species in Costa Rica. With over 4,000 of the flighty creatures in the butterfly conservatory at any one time, guests will be delighted by a possible butterfly kiss, or two.

The spacious glass and acrylic design of our Butterfly Observatory allows our guests and day visitors the opportunity to enjoy the butterflies no matter what Mother Nature has in mind for the weather outside. Our laboratory allows guests to see the butterflies up close as they emerge from their chrysalis or in larva stages of their growth

Guests of the Peace Lodge will be offered a special opportunity: the chance to work in the Butterfly Farm by collecting eggs, caterpillars and host plants. Internships are also available for students in Costa Rica and abroad.

In Costa Rica there exists a great diversity of tropical habitats; this diversity is reflected in the great variety and abundance of butterflies. Approximately 90% of the butterfly species in Central America exist in Costa Rica, nearly 66% of neo-tropical butterflies and about 18% of all butterfly species of the world.

Our butterfly garden allows our visitors to see the female butterfly mating and depositing her eggs on the leaves of her host plant. In addition, our extensive butterfly educational signage and videos explain the lifecycle and metamorphosis in simple terms and allow our visitors to see firsthand the various stages of the lifecycle. The International Association of Butterfly Producers voted our Butterfly Conservatory the best in the world.

In nature, on average only 5% of butterfly eggs reach adulthood and the remaining 95% are lost to predation or other natural causes. In our butterfly program, we are able to provide a safer environment and over 55% of the eggs are able to reach adulthood. In this way, we can maintain a stable population of butterflies in our observatory.

Once our visitors have walked the trails and visited the Butterfly Observatory and Hummingbird Gardens, we usually hear, “Can you believe the butterflies and hummingbirds?” Yes, the waterfalls are magnificent, but the butterflies are unbelievable. With our oversized observatory, our guests feel a part of nature, without feeling as though they are intruding.

Since we are located in the Rainforest, we have recently enclosed our Butterfly Laboratory, so our guests will be able to enjoy their interaction with the butterflies, even when the weather is not cooperating.

Our on-site guides will walk you through the observatory, pointing out eggs, caterpillars and the camouflaged chrysalises.


Species at Waterfall Gardens

The number and types of butterflies are constantly varying at Waterfall Gardens. Although we produce some of our own butterflies, to prevent genetic problems, we introduce butterflies from alternate resources. All of our butterflies are indigenous to Costa Rica. However, some do better at the higher altitude (Waterfall Gardens is almost 5,300 feet high) than others.

To see more details about the butterfly species at the waterfall gardens click below on any image.



Toucans, Wild Turkeys, Scarlet Macaws, Grosbeaks, Tanagers and more fly freely in our Bird Aviary. This is a bird watcher’s paradise, as you will see some of the most exotic and colorful birds of Costa Rica, without binoculars! Our Aviary is a refuge for wild birds that have been either captured illegally by hunters and confiscated by the government or donated by their owners. Many of these birds lack the basic skills to survive in the wild on their own.

In our rescued toucan exhibit you can take a photo of yourself feeding our friendly toucans by hand. They will fly right up and land on your arm when you enter the enclosure but don’t be frightened they are very gentle and have excellent manners. Your reward is a photo and theirs is a tasty treat.

Visitors will find some of the best bird watching in Costa Rica inside the aviary as well as outside in the forest and at our feeders. The mountain zone where the park is located is a migration corridor for hundreds of species of birds of Costa Rica as they migrate to various altitudes in search of blooming fruit trees. We are also in a zone where many species of birds migrate north and south through our forest. Without a doubt this is the best bird watching tour near San José.

In the aviary you will find the following birds:

English Common Name

Scientific Name

Spanish Common Name

Scarlet macaw

Ara macao

Lapa Roja

Yellow crowned euphonia

Euphonia luteicapilla

Eufonia corona amarilla

Yellow thighed finch

Pselliophorus tibialis

Saltón de muslos

Rose Breasted grosbeak

Pheucticus ludovicianus


Red-legged honey creeper

Cianerpes cianeus

Mielero de patas rojas.

Baltimore oriole

Icterus galbula


Blue gray tanager

thraupis episcopus

Viuda o viudita

Common bush tanager

Chlorospingus optalmicus

Tangara ojeruda.

Scarlet tanager

Piranga olivácea

Tangara escarlata.

Silver throated tanager

Tangara icterocephala

Tangara dorada.

Summer tanager

Piranga rubra

Tangara veranera.

Variable seedeater

Amauruspiza concolor

Semillero variable.

Yellow faced grassquit

Tiaris olivacea


Keel billed toucan

Ramphastus sulfuratus

Tucán pico iris.

Red lored parrot

Amazona autumnalis

Lora copete rojo.

Yellow throated euphonia

Euphonia hirundinacea


Blue crowned motmot

Momotus momota

Pájaro bobo

Chestnut mandibled toucan

Ramphastus  swainsonii

Tucán bicolor.

Montezuma oropéndula

Psarocolis Montezuma


Yellow-bellied seedeater

Sporofila nigrocolis

Semillero de pecho amarillo.

Buff-throated saltator

Saltador maximus


Passerinii tanager

Ramphocelus passerinii


Green honey creeper

Chlorofanes zpiza

Mielero verde.

Spangled cheeked tanager

Tangara dowii

Siete colores.

Golden-hooded tanager

Tangara larvata


Slate throated red start

Myioborus miniatus


Black-headed nightingale thrush

Catharus fuscater

Jilguero falso.

Red headed barbet

Eubucco bourcierii

Barbudo cabecirojo.

Prong billed barbet

Semnornis frantzii


Black cheeked woodpecker

Melanerpes pucherani


Vermiculated screech owl

Otus guatemalae

Lechucita del Pacífico.

White crowned parrot

Pionus senelis


Crimson fronted parakeet

Aratinga finschi

Perico frentirojo.

Barred forest falcon

Miscratur ruficolis

Halcón de bosque.

Gray hawk

Buteo nictidus

Gavilán gris.

Crested caracara

Polyborus plancus


Black guan

Chamaepetes unicolor

Pava negra

Indigo bunting

Passerina cyanea


Painted bunting

Passerina ciris

Gorión azul.

Chesnut capped brush finch

Athlapetes brunneinucha


Black bellied whistling duck

Dendrocygna autumnalis

Piches de agua



Our Hummingbird Garden attracts 26 different species of hummingbirds from Costa Rica, more species than any other in Costa Rica and quite possibly the world. Approximately 57 different hummingbirds have been reportedly seen in Costa Rica and it is possible to see over 40% of them here! Because you can stand just inches away from the feeders and our hummingbirds have no fear of humans our hummingbird garden is the best place in the world to photograph hummingbirds close up. If you arrive before 9:00 AM or after 4:00 PM you can feed them by hand with our specially designed hand feeding flower.


Below are the names of the hummingbirds you will find at our feeders:

English Common Name

Magenta-throated woodstar

Coppery headed emerald

Green thorntail

Volcano hummingbird

Scitillant hummingbird

Strite throated hermit

Black bellied hummingbird

Magnificent hummingbird

Violet sabrewing

Purple-crowned fairy

Green- fronted lancebill

Green violet-ear

Brow violet-ear

Rufous-tailed hummingbird

Purple-throated mountain-gem

Striped-tailed hummingbird

White-bellied mountain-gem

Cinnamon hummingbird

Fiery throated hummingbird

Green hermit

Green- breasted mango

Bronze-tailed plumeleteer

White-necked Jacobin

Green- crowned brilliant

Steenybeneed hummingbird

Scientific Name

calliphlox bryantae

Elvira cupreiceps

discosura conversil

selasphorous flammula

selasphorous scintillatha

ethornis srriigunaris

eupherusa nigriventris

eugenes fulgens

campylopterus hemileucurus

heliothryx barroti

doryfera ludoviciae

colibrí thalassinus

colibrí delphinae

amazilia tzacatl

lampornis cablaema

eupherusa eximia

lampornis hemileucus

amazillia rutila

panterpe insignis

phaethornis guy

anthracothorax prevostii

chalybura urochrysia

florisuga mellivora

heliodoxa jacula

amazilia saucerroppc

Spanish Common Name

colibrí magenta

Esmeralda capirotada

rabudito verde

colibrí volcanero

colibrí centleante

ermitaño gorgiestriada

colibrí ventinegro

colibrí magnifico

colibrí morado

colibrí hada occidental

colibrí pico de lanza mayor

colibrí verdemar

colibrí pardo

amazilia rabirrufa

colibrí variable

colibrí colirrayado

colibrí gorgivioleta

amazillia canela

colibrí insigne

ermitaño verdemango


colibrí patirojo

colibrí nuquiblanco

brillante coroniverde

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Hummingbirds are abundant around our feeders because they are in constant supply of food (sugar and water), which is similar to the nectar the birds obtain from flowers.

The mixture of four parts water to one part sugar gives the hummingbirds the proper nutrients they need to keep going (and going and going).

We have to be very careful that we have the exact mixture; otherwise the birds will become fat and unhealthy. Another concern is cavities (believe it or not) in their beaks from the sugar mixture. We also sterilize the feeders everyday to prevent the birds from contracting a fungus from dirty feeders.

When you approach the feeders you will find that the birds don't seem too afraid of you. In fact, they almost seem a bit too friendly. Before opening the park, the owners would place feeders out and wait patiently for the birds to arrive. After almost three months they began to show up (thank goodness, we were almost running out of that 'patience') and kept coming back. Each year we see the same birds returning and bringing their young along with them. The more used to the birds we became, the more used to us they became as well.


Facts about Hummingbirds

  • Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world
  • For their size, hummingbirds have the largest heart & brain of all animals
  • Hummingbirds have no sense of smell
  • Hummingbird wings beat around 60 times per second
  • Hummingbird hearts beat from 500 to 1,200 times per minute
  • Hummingbirds are only found in North, Central and South America
  • Hummingbirds visit 2,000 to 5,000 flowers a day
  • Hummingbirds can consume twice their weight daily
  • Their color is produced by refraction of light, not by pigment
  • Their average speed is 45 miles per hour
  • Their tongues are twice the length of their bills
  • In addition to nectar, hummingbirds eat insects for protein
  • Hummingbirds cannot walk, only perch
  • Hummingbirds fly only 20% of the time

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Courtship and Reproduction

Since hummingbirds are such competitive and solitary creatures, they are not lifetime maters. Hybrid mating is relatively rare among hummingbirds. It is often the female who begins looking for the male once she has chosen a location for her nest and started to build it.Males attract females by posing, flying in particular patterns and creating vocal and wing sounds. Sometimes they dive toward females, or fly back and forth before them, showing off the iridescence of their feathers.

The males also 'possess' territories rich in flowers and the females gain an ample food source in exchange for offering the male sole paternity rights. Intercourse is brief, though it may occur several times, but never for more than one day. The birds can actually mate while in mid-flight.

Once the act has been completed, the female hummingbird lays the eggs and then hatches them on her own. She usually chooses a location that is not in a most favorable feeding area, opting for peace and quiet, even if it means relying upon insects as the staple of her diet. The eggs are tiny, the size of jellybeans, and the average incubation is 16 days. Usually only two eggs are laid, a day apart, and the mother uses techniques to warm and shade them to maintain a constant 90 degree temperature until they are ready to hatch. It takes a little more than three weeks for hummingbird babies to grow feathers and reach their adult size, while their bills reach full size a bit later. At four weeks, the birds are ready to survive on their own.


Feeding Habits
Because hummingbirds have no sense of smell, they must find their food by sight. Young hummingbirds must learn to expect nectar from colored blossoms. Hummingbird bills are custom designed to match the shape and length of the blossoms from which they draw nectar. Bill shapes and lengths vary widely, but tend to be long and narrow, some being curved. Their tongues are twice as long as their bills.

The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. Flowers without landing pads are accessible only by hummingbirds, which can hover and feed while hanging in the air. Other flowers such as trumpet or tubular shaped blossoms provide selective feeding for the hummingbirds since only the long, narrow bill of the hummingbird is able to access the succulent nectar.

Some hummingbirds feed from a single plant all day. Others have fixed feeding routes that cover large distances. They methodically fly in special patterns that define their territory.To survive, a hummingbird must consume more than its weight in food each day, which equates to between 6,000 and 12,000 calories per day. About 70% of this food comes in the form of liquefied sugar and the rest from insect protein.

A hummingbird's diet consists of nectar, sap and insects. If insects are available, a hummingbird may eat hundreds of them in one day, they may even raid a spider's web to eat a captured insect or the spider himself. The nectar mixture in our hummingbird feeders is comprised of one part sugar, four parts water. A higher sugar content could cause cavities in their bills and obesity. Most days the entire contents of our feeders will be completely consumed by late afternoon. The birds consume 50 pounds of sugar a week.

Survival of Hummingbirds
Hummingbird survival skills must be learned by the new adults on their own, including flying, searching for food, avoiding predators, bathing and grooming.


Territoriality among hummingbirds can become a crucial, even violent issue. The birds will stake out an area of nectar-rich flowering plants and defend it vehemently by dive-bombing and occasionally stabbing rivals with their beaks.


Predators include hawks, orioles, roadrunners, crows, jays and other large birds. Mice and cats can also represent a danger to baby hummingbirds. There have been cases of attacks on tiny hummingbirds by praying mantises and tarantulas. However, history shows that humans were its largest predators in the late nineteenth century when we killed millions of hummingbirds to use their feathers and bodies as ornaments on hats.


Males migrate about three weeks earlier than females. This may be that the males are protecting the females and their young from starvation by exploring unknown territories in advance.


Sleeping Habits
Because hummingbirds have very little down and body fat, they must rely on their metabolisms to keep them warm. To protect themselves from lower tempreratures at night, they go into a torpid state, meaning their normal body temperature of 86 degrees can drop to as low as 70 degrees, often matching the outside air. This ability allows them to conserve energy as their heartbeat slows from a daytime high of 1,200 beats a minute to 159 beats a minute.


Geographic Distribution
The 341 species in the hummingbird family, Trochilidae, are all confined to the Western Hemisphere. Their territory reaches all the way from South Alaska to the tip of South America, but most live along the equator in the rain forests of Colombia and Ecuador where flower nectar and insects are plentiful. Only 15 species of hummingbirds breed within the United State (most in western North America) and only the ruby-throated hummingbird is found seasonally east of the Mississippi. An increasing number of hummingbirds are beginning to winter in the southeastern United States, near the Gulf of Mexico.

Hummingbirds live at diverse altitudes, from the lowlands of the North America east coast to as high as 15,000 feet (4,572 m) in the Andes Mountains. Hummingbirds are not found in grassland plains, which lack sufficient nectar-bearing plants. Out of the 341 species of hummingbirds, 57 exist in Costa Rica and 26 are found here at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This is the most species diverse hummingbird garden in Costa Rica.


Hummingbirds as Pollinators
Much like the bee, the hummingbird seeks nectar from flowering plants. During the process of extracting the nectar from the flower tube, pollen clings to their bill and feathers. As they visit different flowers of the same species of plant fertilization occurs and seeds are produced.


Hummingbird and Heliconia Symbiosis
Heliconias in the American tropics rely exclusively on hummingbirds as pollinators. The large colorful flowers serve to visually attract the hummingbirds since they have no sense of smell. In most cases the size of the flower tube on the plant matches the exact size of the bill on the pollinating hummingbird. Certain Heliconias with deep flower tubes rely on a specific hummingbird with an extra long bill to pollinate them.


Legends of the Hummingbirds
These tiny, brilliantly colored birds are often the subjects of legends, myths, and superstitions. The hummingbird's ability to disappear in the blink of an eye makes their fleeting appearances seem like hallucinations, and gives these birds a special, magical quality few other flying creatures posess. In several Native American cultures, their speedy flight figures in important religious myths, associating them with the wind, the rain, and other unstoppable natural forces of mysterious origin.

One Mayan legend holds that the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, appearing in birdlike form to seduce the moon. The most powerful Aztec god was associated with the hummingbird. His helmet, fastened to the back of his head, was the head of a hummingbird, making him appear half man, half bird. To this day, two popular but untrue legends and superstitions continue to surround these tiny birds. One, that the hummingbirds die each autumn, only to resurrect in the spring, and that the hummingbirds migrate across great bodies of water by hitching rides on the backs of geese.



Spider Monkeys and White Faced Monkeys amuse our guests and themselves as they climb and swing through the trees of our Monkey Pass. Above, below, and beside you they will delight you with their antics. And don’t miss our visitors from Brazil, the White Tufted Eared Marmosets! Snuggled in the Bird Aviary these cute little critters are enjoying their Costa Rican vacation. All of these monkeys were donated to us by the MINAE, the Costa Rican Ministry of Wildlife and were confiscated from people who held them illegally. In many cases the animals were abused and in near death condition when we received them. We have rehabilitated them and combined them into sociable groups where they have become families.

Everyone wants to see monkeys when they visit Costa Rica but we have the best natural habitats in which to photograph monkeys and interact with them. Our educational signage provides insight into the behaviors, reproduction and future survival of these monkeys in Costa Rica.



Our museum quality Serpentarium exhibits 30 of the most beautiful and deadly snakes of Costa Rica.  The exhibition puts you face to face with such famous snakes as the Bushmaster, Terciopelo, Green Vinesnake, and Golden Eyelash Viper to name just a few.  We are also one of the few Serpentariums in the world to host the colorful but venomous sea snake found off the Pacific Coast of Central America.


Below are some of the snakes you will find in our Serpentarium:

English Common Name

Boa constrictor

Annulated boa

Rainbow boa

Giant parrotsnake

Neotropical coachwhip

Brown vinesnake

Short vinesnake

Green vinesnake

Northern birdsnake

Neotropical Ratsnake

Oriole snake


Common road guarder

King snake

Tropical milksnake

Salmon bellied racer

Costa Rican coralsnake

Central American jumping pitviper

Picados jumping pitviper

Side-striped palm pitviper

Eyelash palm pitviper

Golden eyelash palm pitviper

Fer de lance

Godman s montane pitviper

Neotropical rattleasnake

Central American bushmaster

Rainforest hog nosed pitviper

Western slender hog nosed pitviper

Scientific Name

Boa constrictor

corralus annulatus

epicrates cenchria

lepthophis ahaetulla

masticophis mentovarius

oxybelis aeneus

oxybelis brevirostris

oxybelis fulgidus

pseustes poecilonotus

senticolis triaspis

spilotes pullatus

trimorphodon biscutatus

conophis lineatus

lampropeltis triangulum

lampropeltis triangulum

mastigodryas melanolomus

micrurus mosquitensis

atropoides mexicanus

atropoides picadoi

bothriechis lateralis

bothriechis schegelii

bothriechis schegelii

Bothrops asper

cerrophidium godmani

crotalus simus

lachesis stenophrys

porthidium nasutum

porthidium ophryomegas

Spanish Common Name

boa constrictor

boa arborícola anulada

boa arcoiris

lora falsa gigante

sabanera de bosque seco

bejuquilla café

bejuquilla de hosico corto

bejuquilla verde


ratonera centroamericana


toboba gata

guarda camino comun

coral falsa

serpiente de leche negra

corredora panza salmon

coral costarricense

mano de piedra centroamericana

mano de piedra costarricense

lora venenosa

bocaraca comun

oropel (bocaraca)


toboba de altura

cascabel neotropical


tamaga comun

toboba chinga


Snakes in Costa Rica

There are 137 Species of Snakes in Costa Rica. There are 22 Venomous Species in Costa Rica, mostly from the Viper family with a few Coral Snakes and the Sea Snake from the Elapid family. 92% of the Snakes in Costa Rica exist between sea level and 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) in altitude, primarily in the Tropical and Subtropical Forests. Only 8% of Snakes in Costa Rica exist above 4,900 feet (about 1,500 meters) in altitude.  The altitude of Waterfall Gardens ranges from 4,200 to 5,225 feet (1,300 to 1,600 meters).

There are 15 Species of Venomous Snakes on the Pacific side of the country and only 9 Species of Venomous Snakes on the Caribbean side. For 25 Species of Snakes in Costa Rica, this is the southern limit of their existence. For 30 Species of Snakes in Costa Rica, this is the northern limit of their existence. With 55 Species having their northern and southern limits in Costa Rica, it gives testament to Costa Rica being the “Landbridge of the Americas” where Species from North and South America meet. There are 13 Species found only in Costa Rica (and its close neighbors).

Although the Neotropical Rattlesnake and the Bushmaster have more powerful Venom, the most dangerous Snake in Costa Rica is the Terciopelo or Fer de Lance Pit Viper.  They are more dangerous because they live in areas closer to human habitation and reproduce in enormous quantities (Litters with up to 90 offspring!) Terciopelos are located in all areas of Costa Rica except the very high mountains.

Sea Snakes live in the waters off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica (not along the beaches). Although feared for their extremely potent neurotoxic venom, the Sea Snake has very limited ability to bite a human because of its small mouth and rear fangs.  Even if one did manage to bite you, there is an 80% chance that this would be a “Dry” bite with no venom introduced.

Facts about snakes

  • Snakes evolved approximately 120 million years ago from their closest descendant, the Monitor lizard.
  • There are approximately 2,980 Species of Snakes in the World today.
  • Only 10% are Venomous, with very few, about 2%, representing a danger to humans.
  • Snakes live on all the world’s continents except Antarctica.  In the Arctic Circle they hibernate for up to 8 months.
  • Snakes depend heavily on “chemoreception” for tracking prey and recognizing their environment.  A snake’s flickering tongue picks up scent molecules from the surrounding environment and passes them to the Jacobson’s Organ for analysis.
  • Snakes, like all Reptiles, are Cold Blooded (Ectothermic) and cannot generate internal heat.  Therefore, Snakes cannot sustain high aerobic activity, (chasing prey, escaping predators) for longer than a few minutes.
  • All Snakes molt or shed their skin on average three to four times a year.  This allows them to grow and replace old scales.
  • Vertical Eye Pupils are typical of nocturnal species not necessarily venomous species.  In normal light conditions the pupils are contracted into slits. 
  • Climbing Snakes (Arboreal) are normally long and thin.  Terrestrial Snakes (Land Dwelling) and Burrowing Snakes are short and stout with short tails.
  • Snakes must ingest between 6 and 30 meals per year, approximately one meal every two weeks.  However, some Snakes can shut off their digestive system and not eat for several months after a very large meal.
  • Snakes in captivity live between 8 and 25 years.  Large species like Anacondas and Pythons live up to 40 years.

Facts about venomous snakebites

  • Venom is actually a highly concentrated digestive substance with 10 to 20 enzymes which when combined with other toxins creates a destructive effect on most tissues and nerves.  The Venom is produced by a Gland in the head of the Snake.
  • Venom helps the Snake by immobilizing larger or potentially dangerous prey, allowing a wider selection of food choices.  Venom also softens the tissues of larger prey as the first phase in the digestive process; this allows for easier swallowing.
  • Each year between 500 and 800 people are bitten by Venomous Snakes in Costa Rica.  Only 5 to 10 result in death.
  • 68% of Venomous Snakebites are on the feet or legs and it is mostly field workers that are bitten.  These workers often do not wear long pants or boots.
  • 95% of Venomous Bites are caused by the Viper family of Snakes.
  • The Pit Viper, known as the Terciopelo or Fer de Lance (Bothrops asper), accounts for almost all the deaths from Snakebite in Costa Rica.
  • Death occurs in only 1% of “Untreated“ Viper Snakebites.
  • 30% of Viper Bites are “Dry” Bites where no Venom is injected at all.  The Snake either decides not to inject the Venom or might have recently used its Venom on another victim.
  • On average, a Viper needs from 2 to 3 weeks to fully reproduce its Venom after using it.
  • There are 25,000 Deaths worldwide from Venomous Snakebites.  Half of the Deaths occur in the poor rural areas of Burma and India.  There are 10 Deaths a year in Australia, 15 in Europe, and 15 in the United States.  A large percentage of these include Snake Handlers and untrained capture attempts.
  • Among the Indian tribes still living deep in the Amazon, 5% of all Deaths are caused by Snakebites and 80% of the population will be bitten by a Venomous Snake at least once in their lifetime. 
  • In the United States, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is the most Venomous Snake and is responsible for the most serious Snake Bites.
  • The proper procedure for all Snakebites is to immobilize the bitten limb and seek immediate transportation to a hospital.  Upon arrival, a proper Antivenom treatment can be administered and monitored.


There are two types of Antivenom used in Costa Rica.  One is for all Bites from the Viper family and one is for all Bites from the Elapid family, this includes Coral Snakes and Sea Snakes.

The Antivenom is made from injecting small quantities of Venom into horses and allowing their blood to build antibodies to combat the Venom.  Their blood is then taken and separated into a serum containing the antibodies.  A small amount of this serum is tested on the person before administering a full dose to make sure there is no allergic reaction.  If no reaction, the proper dosage is then assessed depending on the severity of the bite.

CAUTION:  Administering Antivenom to a  person allergic to the horse serum can cause a severe anaphylactic shock that is more dangerous than the Venom itself!

How to Avoid Snakebites in Costa Rica---Safety Tips for Avoiding Poisonous Snakes in Costa Rica

Do not travel on unlit paths at night without a flashlight. Most venomous snakes are active at night and at dusk. Always watch where you step.

Exercise caution when exploring - avoid passing through heavy brush or hollow logs without first investigating thoroughly. Do not stick your hands in rock crevices or pick flowers or other plants without first investigating the area around them for a sleeping snake.

Be sure to wear proper foot gear - hiking or heavy walking shoes - do not go barefooted or wear sandals to go exploring in high grass or brush.
Do not place your sleeping bag(s) next to brush, tall grass, large boulders or trees where snakes are known to live and nest. Place your camp site and tents in a cleared area and use mosquito netting tucked well under the bag to provide a barrier.
Do not try to pick up snakes or handle them unless you have formal training and are able to handle them efficiently. Most experts advise against trying to handle even a freshly killed snakes as their nervous system may be still active and they can still deliver a bite!


Appeared 65 Million Years Ago
These nonvenomous snakes are the oldest and largest members of the snake family still existing on the planet.   They were the dominant family of snakes from 65-36 million years ago before the more evolved Colubrid family appeared and began to compete with them. Because they existed before many of the landmasses separated they have a worldwide distribution.  Boa constrictors exist predominantly in the tropical Americas and pythons, their close relatives, evolved in the regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia. Their Primitive features include a lack of venom, a rigid jaw, heavy skull, pelvic bone structures, and the remains of vestigial limbs in the form of spurs or claws inherited from their lizard ancestors. 


Evolutionary Adaptations

Some species of constrictors show an evolved adaptation in the form of heat sensitive scales around their mouths. Although similar in function to heat pits on pit vipers, this physiological characteristic evolved separately and is not nearly as effective as the pit viper’s heat detection capability.


Their hunting technique is characterized by a “lie and wait” ambush style as is true with most snakes that consume small mammals that are faster with more long range endurance than them.  Their color pattern is ideal camouflage especially during nocturnal hunting.  To catch prey a constrictor retracts its head and strikes the prey hard wrapping its body around for constriction.  They do not crush their prey but rather suffocate it by gradually tightening their grip each time their prey exhales.  Death occurs from lack of oxygen or because the heart cannot pump blood through the vascular system.   Some arboreal constrictors have special teeth that allow them to strike and hold moving prey such as birds or bats.   Without fail the constrictors always consume their prey head first.  These snakes prefer a diet of mammals and birds because constriction is more effective on warm blooded animals that need to breathe more frequently. One of the primary differences between Boas and Pythons is their manner of reproduction.  Boas bear live young (viviparous) while Pythons lay large quantities of eggs (oviparous) and protect them during incubation.  The python is one of the few snakes that demonstrates parental care.


Appeared 36 Million Years Ago
This diverse family appeared about 36 million years ago and comprises two thirds of all species of known snakes.   It is currently the dominant family of snakes on all the world’s continents except Australia. In Costa Rica this family represents 104 of the 137 species. They are found in trees, on the ground, underground and in the water.  The most commonly recognized species are the garter, grass, rat, and whip snakes.


Evolutionary Adaptations

Rear Fangs and the First Venom
Although two thirds of these snakes are completely nonvenomous the other one third evolved the first rudimentary venom produced by an organ in the head known as Duvernoy’s Gland.   As a component of this adaptation came a primitive venom delivery system in the form of solid rear fangs and later, grooved rear fangs.  Although effective on their prey the Colubrid venom is weak and their rear fangs very inefficient from a defensive standpoint.  Because of this the Colubrids represent little danger to humans.  However, their venom can cause localized symptoms in humans including pain, swelling and continuous bleeding. Almost all of the Colubrids harbor bacteria in their mouths that can cause infections if a bite wound is not properly cleaned.  BEWARE-Venomous Colubrids are often listed as nonvenomous in many of the snake guides- the best advice is not to attempt to handle or capture any snake in the wild.


Many colubrid species use their amazing speed and agility to actively search out and attack their prey.  The venomous species hold on to their prey and allow the venom to take effect. The nonvenomous species may use constriction like the boas, or immobilize their prey by thrashing, or by the sheer force of their strike.  Camouflage and stealth also play an important part in capturing prey.


Antipredatory Traits and Behaviors
The Colubrids have evolved a few sophisticated antipredatory characteristics that aid in their survival.  Some species voluntarily break their tails, which keep moving, to distract an oncoming predator while escaping.  A few others feign death by rolling over and exposing their stomachs.  One of the most effective antipredatory trait is mimicking the color patterns and markings of the venomous Elapid and Viper species like this Milksnake from the Colubrid Family.

Appeared 22 Million Years Ago
All members of the Elapid Family are highly venomous.  Although the family accounts for only 10% of the world’s snake species their members are the most deadly and include the Cobras, Mambas, Coralsnakes and Seasnakes.  They are the dominant family of snakes in Australia and therefore are thought to have evolved about 22 million years ago just prior to the continent of Australia breaking off from the great landmass of Pangaea.


Evolutionary Adaptations

Front Fangs
These were the first species to evolve front fangs and powerful neurotoxic venom.  In the more primitive species of elapids venom is conducted through grooves in the front fangs and in the more evolved species the fangs have an internal canal to conduct venom.  The advantage of front fangs is the ability to inject venom with a quick strike and then release the prey to allow the venom to work without risking injury to themselves while the prey struggles.


Neurotoxic Venom
The venom travels from the bite wound to the bloodstream and within two to six hours begins blocking neurological transmissions leading to progressive paralysis of certain muscle tissues.  Symptoms include loss of muscular function, heavy salivary secretion, headache and in severe cases cardiorespiratory collapse.  The victim needs to be treated with a specific antivenom designed for a Coralsnake or Seasnake bite.  Some Elapids also have hematoxins (like the Vipers) in their venom that attack and kill red blood cells and muscle tissue and begin to externally digest the prey.  In Costa Rica there are only six species of Elapids with five species represented from the Coralsnake genus and one from the subfamily of Seasnakes.  Although highly venomous these snakes represent 5% or less of the total number of annual snakebites in Costa Rica.  Approximately 50% of Coralsnake bites are “Dry” bites where no venom is injected. The Coralsnakes and Seasnakes have bold color markings to advertise to predators, especially birds, their lethal nature. For this reason there are eleven Colubrid species which mimic the color pattern and share the protection of the Coralsnake markings.

Appeared 20 Million Years Ago
The members of the Viper family are the most advanced of all snakes from an evolutionary standpoint.  They can survive in extreme climates ranging from the Arctic Circle to the hottest deserts and at the highest altitudes.  They are not found in Australia and so are thought to have evolved after the continent separated from the major landmass Pangaea around 20 million years ago. Most vipers have short stocky bodies and cannot chase down prey.  They employ an ambush strategy of lying motionless in the night awaiting small mammals to cross their path.  This behavior consumes less energy so they can feed less often and reduces the chance of being exposed to a predator while traveling.  


Evolutionary Adaptations

Hinged Front Fangs
The viper’s fangs are improved over that of the Elapids because they are longer and therefore can inject venom deeper into the tissue of prey.  They are able to manage these long fangs because they are hinged and can be folded up into the roof of the mouth when not in use but deployed forward quickly for a strike.  They are hollow and connected directly to the venom glands so they can inject large quantities of venom rapidly.


Improved Venom
Viper venom is a hematoxin comprised of over 20 digestive enzymes combined with various other toxic components that when combined yield a destructive effect on red blood cells and muscle tissues.  The venom is the first phase in the digestive process and softens or breaks down the proteins and lipids of the prey to ease in the swallowing process.  This destructive venom aids the snake’s digestive process especially in cold climates. The more venomous snakes such as the Bushmaster, Terciopelo and Neotropical Rattlesnake also have neurotoxins in their venom similar to the Elapids. 


Heat Detection Ability of the Pitviper
The infrared imaging capability of the Pitviper is unique in the animal kingdom and makes it king of the night.  These snakes have heat pits located on each side of their face that contain ultrasensitive thermoreceptor cells able to detect changes in temperature of less than .002 degrees Farenheit. They use the two heat pits like binocular vision to triangulate range and distance to their prey in complete darkness.  Studies show they rely almost exclusively on this sense and not on eyesight to hunt for prey.




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