Parque Nacional Los Quetzales

Parque Nacional Los Quetzales

Costa Rica
Costa Rica

When Is the Best Time

The Valley of San Gerardo de Dota is a birders paradise. There are plenty of birds in the cloud forest at high altitude, but you may miss most of them without a guide. The quetzal can be spotted throughout the year, though there are more of these colourful birds around from October to January in the mating and breeding season. 

Weather San Gerardo de Dota Valley

Above the clouds during sunset in San Gerardo de Dota
Above the clouds during sunset in San Gerardo de Dota

Temperatures are almost the same throughout the year. The weather is divided into two seasons, the rainy and the dry season. Night and day temps are ranging between 53-63°F/ 12-17°C and reach a maximum of 68°F/ 20°C. San Gerardo de Dota is located on roughly 7.000 feet/ 2,100 m elevation.

Quetzal sitting on a branch

The Los Quetzales National Park is ranging from 7.000-10.500 feet 2.100 m up to 3.200 m elevation. Therefore, it is even colder in higher elevations. Where there is rainforest there is rain which is the same for cloud forests. The annual precipitation lays around 158 inches/ 4000 mm. It is always a good idea to bring a rain jacket when travelling to Costa Rica and the cloud forests. 

Drier Season

Decreasing rainfall in November and driest from December to April, especially in January and February. However, frequent showers occur throughout the year in the cloud forest. The humidity is quite high around 80%.

Rainy Season

Increasing rainfall already in April. From May to November falls a high amount of rain at least 20 inches/ 500 mm per month.

Where to Stay

Hotel in San Gerardo de Dota

If you come to this area to watch the Resplendent Quetzal stay here at least one night for an early morning birdwatching tour. I recommend staying in San Gerardo de Dota either in the Hotel Savegre, the Lauraceas Lodge or the Trogon Lodge. We travelled on a budget and spent one night only in one of the cheap huts. In the end, we were freezing the entire night although we had an additional sleeping bag and a hottie. 

Trogon on a branch
Trogon

The cloud forest is full of birds, not only the Quetzal, hummingbirds, trogons, tanagers, finches, woodpeckers and more. Stay for two nights and enjoy the lush vegetation with all its birds. The hotels have bird feeders where you spot plenty of different hummingbirds. 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Parque Nacional Los Quetzales
Costa Rica
Costa Rica

The "Parque Nacional Los Quetzales" and the San Gerardo de Dota Valley are located more than 80 km south of San Jose. It takes almost 2 hours to get here by rental car. The area is famous for the Resplendent Quetzal and my other bird species. The Quetzal is one of the most fascinating birds I'd ever seen.

Hummingbird at bird feeder

Enjoy a walk through the amazing cloud forest. You increase the chance to spot them on a guided tour in the early morning. If there are too many people around making noise, the birds get disturbed and disappear. Be prepared for cold nights or chose one of the better hotels. 

National Park Los Quetzales Facts

The canopy of the cloud forest in fog

  • 50 sq km big
  • Established in 2005
  • Two hiking trails; one 500 m which takes 15 min. and one is 2 km taking 45 min. walking
  • Located in high elevation ranging from 7.000-10.500 feet 2.100 m up to 3.200 m.
  • 20 % of all existing birds in Costa Rica occur here.
  • Entrance fee $11 in 2021
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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…