If you are planning on taking a trip to Costa Rica, then I’m sure that you’ve already heard about the incomparable biodiversity that defines the country. Botanists, animal lovers, trekkers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike flock to Costa Rica, hoping to witness as much of the country’s rich and beautiful natural surroundings as they can and taking part in its extensive eco-tourism opportunities. Why not do all of the above in one stop? The Ecocentro Danaus just outside of La Fortuna contains a surprisingly concentrated cross-section of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna. Plus, by visiting, you will be contributing to ecological education and the preservation of the Costa Rican rainforest.
Drop by for non-stop wildlife photo-ops
La Fortuna, with its fantastic views of the Arenal volcano, has become a popular tourist destination for those wanting to bask in the presence of the area’s jutting monolith. There’s much to do in the area, but as long as you’re here, I’d add a stop to the Ecocentro Danaus to your list of things to do. Only a few short kilometers east from the center of town (easily walkable within 30 minutes), this ecocenter is a worthwhile place to spend a couple of hours. Plus, you’ll learn about the impressive biodiversity that defines the region you’re in.
There are more than butterflies hanging around
At a mere 3 hectares, this ecocenter packs a serious punch when it comes to wildlife viewing. During my visit, I saw a three-toed sloth, poisonous red darts frogs, a caiman (crocodile), several guatusas (agouti), a cross-section of tanagers, toucans, and a rarely seen white bat. This list does not even include the various bugs, insects, plants, and birds that my lack of taxonomical background prevents me from identifying. The property also contains a lake and a butterfly habitat. Well-defined trails let you wander around as long as you’d like, where the chances are good that you’ll be catching a glimpse of something unique to Costa Rica at every turn.
Experience Costa Rica’s unique biodiversity
The staff at the ecocenter is also more than eager to make your experience a pleasurable one. They do offer tours for bird watching, amphibian viewing, and even a two-hour night tour for those who want an extra pair of eyes to help you locate all of the plants and animals in the area. Alternatively, if you just ask, a staff member will show you around and answer any questions you have. Donations are always appreciated for these and all other activities. The staff know where to look, finding wildlife that you may have missed altogether without their help. During my visit, they were particularly proud of the white bat that drops by for a couple of weeks every year and rests among their trees only to fly away to return months down the line. They’ll also tell you about the natural history of the local plants, from their medicinal uses to the agricultural activities of the local indigenous populations.
Feel good about your travels
On top of having a plethora of opportunities to observe a high concentration of plant and animal life that can be found at the reserve, you’ll know that any money spent here is going for a good cause. The ecocenter participates in Costa Rica’s Ecological Blue Flag Program and as a result, participates in educational programs and informative field trips for the local schoolchildren in La Fortuna. On top of this, any money that is donated to the reserve goes towards reforestation efforts in the region. Costa Rica takes pride in its ecotourism, but the Ecocentro Danaus can be seen as a paradigm for how to perfectly marry travel, education, and environmental issues.
Experience all that Costa Rica has to offer in one place
If you’re stopping by the Arenal area during your Costa Rica travels, make sure to spend at least a couple of hours wandering around the Ecocentro Danaus. In one visit, I had the opportunity to witness a week’s worth of nature-viewing - all within a manageable area that won’t take all day to fully experience. Whether you’re a lover of plants, trees, bugs, birds, mammals, or reptiles, there’s going to be something here that will catch your eye. Plus, you’re contributing to local ecological efforts that focus wholeheartedly on education and reforestation. Feel good about your travels!
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