Hike Date: December 29th, 2012
Distance: ~ 1.5 miles
Trail(s): Ecocentro Danaus Trails
Where’s it at? Ecocentro Danaus, La Fortuna, Costa Rica


This wasn’t so much a hike as a walk through Biological Reserve in a Rain Forest which has been restored from farmlands a little outside of La Fortuna in Costa Rica. For a small fee, guided or self-guided walks are available which offer a wide variety of native flora and fauna. We were not disappointed with this walk at all, even if we came on a somewhat wet day.

You can park for free and there is a museum and shop with knowledgeable staff to greet you. From here you might catch a free glimpse of a nearby sloth, a plethora of birds (they claim 154 species) feeding on bananas and even an Agouti (a central american giant rodent). They offer both guided and self-guided tours. We took the self-guided tour for $11 USD each.

The walk starts with a nice map of the area with a sort of zoo feeling to it. There are various exhibits, some enclosed, others open and the trails navigate the Reserve in a counter-clockwise fashion. The first area is a net-enclosed butterfly garden which makes it really easy to spot a number of native butterflies. My favorite was the Blue Morpho which is large with very attractive wings both on the underside and tops. While we probably didn’t see 30 species it is the range claimed by the documentation. Another attraction in here were the multiple trails of leaf cutter ants, which were really cool to watch. I feel like they are the quintessential insect to see here in Costa Rica.

Next up was an area with native amphibians. We only saw a few here, but they were worth it. The frogs were cool, I think the main ones we saw were the Poisonous Red Frogs. They had blue feet and red bodies and were about an inch and a half in length. We saw several of these which stood out strongly against the rain forest backdrop. A little further and you were looking across a large pond. We saw a few Mirador (large birds with interesting beaks) here high up in the trees. There are alligators in the waters but we actually didn’t see any. There were quite a few mosquitoes in the area which kept us walking briskly in this area.

A little further still and you come to a medicine garden which has 60 species of medicinal plants labeled with signage. Next to that is a building that had some rather odd artwork from indigenous people in the area. Much of it was masks but not your typical tribal-type masks. Honestly, none of the artwork pulled our heartstrings but it was still interesting to see. Further still and we came to their nursery area where they were planting seeds and propagating native plants that would later be moved (in theory) to other parts to continue the restoration efforts. Lots of mushrooms abounded in the area.

One of my favorite areas was where they had all the orchids. There are an insane number of different species that call Costa Rica their home and we saw some pretty cool ones in here. Next to that was the official frog area where you could hear a lot of frogs but we actually had seen more in the previous amphibian area. I think a lot were hiding in bromeliads or on the top side of leaves which hid them from view.

This was a great experience that we sort of just stumbled on while in the Arenal area. A worker at one of the souvenir shops we’d stopped at had told us to visit and drew us a map to get there. The road in was a little bit sketchy but all in all this *was* a great place to have stopped at. I think my girlfriend and I felt complete at that point having seen a number of animals and plants that we hadn’t yet caughten glimpses in while on this Costa Rican adventure. If you ever find yourself near Arenal Volcano, make a stop here for 1.5-2 hours, it’s well worth it.

Photos from Ecocentro Danaus (click to enlarge)

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Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus
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Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus Nature Hike through Ecocentro Danaus
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Written on December 29th, 2012 in Hiking, The Whole Thing
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