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 altitudes, but you may miss most of them without a guide. The quetzal can be spotted throughout the year, though more of these colourful birds are 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
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 range between 53-63°F/ 12-17°C and reach a maximum of 68°F/ 20°C. San Gerardo de Dota is located at roughly 7.000 feet/ 2,100 m elevation.
The Los Quetzales National Park ranges 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 lies 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.
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%.
Increasing rainfall already in April. From May to November, a high amount of rain falls, at least 20 inches/ 500 mm per month.
Where to Stay
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.
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
Location and Tips
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 other bird species. The Quetzal is one of the most fascinating birds I've ever seen.
Enjoy a walk through the amazing cloud forest. You increase the chance of spotting 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 choose one of the better hotels.
National Park Los Quetzales Facts
- 50 sq km big
- Established in 2005
- Two hiking trails; one is 500 m which takes 15 min., and one is 2 km taking 45 min. walking
- Located in high elevations 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 between $10-11 for adult and kids half in 2022, depending on the currency rate