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Famed as a refuge for the elusive resplendent quetzal - after which it was named - Los Quetzales National Park consists of various rainforest and cloud forest habitats between 2,000 and 3,000 metres altitude.

Gazetted as a national park in 2005, Los Quetzales is the most recent addition to Costa Rica’s widespread park system. The protected area takes in what was formerly the 5,000-hectare Los Santos Forest Reserve, and stretches across three types of rainforest, including 14 separate ecosystems. Lying at high altitude along the Talamanca mountain range, much of the area is covered by pre-montane forests, a crucial habitat for a number of plant and animal species, the most notable of which is the resplendent quetzal.

Although the quetzal is renowned as being shy and elusive, the park authorities claim it is much easier to spot here than in the cloud forests of Monteverde and Santa Elena, which lie further north. Other bird species present include trogons, tanagers, and hummingbirds, while sloths, coyotes and pumas number among the mammals. Although relatively small, this region is remarkably diverse – the Savegre watershed contains roughly 20% of all the bird species recorded in Costa Rica.

Due to its topographical and altitudinal variation and high annual rainfall, the terrain varies widely – with mountains, glacial lakes and streams, and is rich in flora and fauna. Most of the park lies along the banks of the Río Savegre, which rises in the Cerro de la Muerte (3,491 metres), eventually entering the Pacific near Manuel Antonio. Its upper slopes have large numbers of oak and cypress trees, while at lower altitudes there are many aguacatillos, a relative of the avocado that is a favourite food of the quetzal. Exotic flowers create bursts of colour in the otherwise green forest.

The park entrance lies just under 50 kilometres southeast of San José, and within easy to reach of Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: resplendent quetzal, collared trogon, fiery-throated hummingbird, sooty robin, black guan
  • Where: Central Pacific, Costa Rica

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Cloud Forests & Mountains

Enjoy the beauty and spectacle of Costa Rica's flora and fauna on this fantastic trip encompassing the best of the country. Exploring rainforests and coastlines, the itinerary is designed to introduce you to the incredible variety of birds, wildlife and plant species to be found in Costa Rica.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,445 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Costa Rica Cloud & Rainforest Photography

The richness of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna is outstanding and ideal for wildlife and macro photography. Join renowned photographer Chris Mattison on this superb two-week journey through the cloud forests and rainforests to capture images of rare frogs, insects, birds, mammals and exotic plants.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Trogon Lodge

This pleasant birding lodge stands on a private reserve of some 40 hectares of farmland, close to Los Quetzales National Park. It sits at an altitude of around 2,300 metres, beside a rushing stream and surrounded by lush gardens with dazzling flowers and hundred-year-old oak trees.