Visiting El Silencio de Los Ángeles Cloud Forest Reserve
The resplendent quetzal is common in the area. Photo © Matt MacGillivray, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.
his reserve is an extension of the 800-hectare (2,000-acre) Los Ángeles Cloud Forest Reserve & Adventure Park
(8am-4pm daily); it begins at 700 meters (2,300 feet) elevation and tops out at 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). When the clouds clear, you can see Volcán Arenal.
Three species of monkeys abound, and other mammals such as ocelots, jaguars, and jaguarundis are present.
The hills are covered with thick cloud forest, with the calls of howler monkeys emanating from its shrouded interior. Bird species include bellbirds, trogons, and aracaris. Laurel trees have been planted to lure quetzals (birding tours are offered at 6am and 8:15am daily, $26). Three species of monkeys abound, and other mammals such as ocelots, jaguars, and jaguarundis are present. Three kilometers (2 miles) of manicured, well-signed trails lead into the cloud forest. Two short 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) and 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) trails have wooden walkways with nonslip surfaces. A third, hard-hiking trail (plan on 6-9 hours) descends past waterfalls and natural swimming pools.
The reserve adjoins the Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Nature Reserve (tel. 506/2461-3800, 8am-3pm daily, adults $26, children $13). Guided hikes (nonguests $26, hotel guests free) are compulsory for call-in visitors, while hotel guests can take self-guided hikes. Don’t miss the night walk at 6pm ($26). A zip-line canopy tour ($42) features 10 treetop platforms; guided horseback rides ($15 per hour) and bird-watching and nature hikes ($24-55) are offered. INBio has a research center here, specializing in butterflies, where visitors can view taxonomists studying butterflies and other insects. The tour of the hotel’s organic greenhouses and compost production facility is fascinating. The vivero (hothouse) is especially interesting on a nocturnal tour, when you can spot dozens of frogs.
Excerpted from the Ninth Edition of Moon Costa Rica.