On Friday, January 24, 2014, we took a day trip to La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
Entrance fees: Foreigners - adults $38/children $22. Locals and residents (us) - adults $22/children $13. We also opted for the buffet lunch in Colibries Restaurant, which for us was $13 each. It was good, featuring Costa Rican fare. The garlic rolls are delicious. There is also a hotel (the Peace Lodge), the Vista Poás Restaurant and the Las Tucas Lounge.
There are 3.5 miles of paved trails through both cloud and rainforest and these trails will take you very close to five different waterfalls. There are lots of lookouts over the falls, including the main one, La Paz. Beware, I got vertigo going down a series of stairs attached to the side of the mountain. In the attached video, I have included a picture of the stairs. But don't let that stop you ...
There is an orchid garden and a frog and lizard terrarium (we somehow missed both of these). We did go into the aviary, the huge butterfly garden, the serpentarium (where we learned all about our venomous and non-venomous snake neighbors), the monkey area and the big cat area. The aviary was a big hit with me because I finally got to see toucans up close and had one sit on my arm. We hear toucans all around our house but we don't see them that often. The colors on these birds is amazing. The aviary is a refuge for wild birds either donated by their owners or captured illegally by hunters and confiscated by the government. Most are unable to survive on their own in the wild.
On our visit, there were guides available in many areas to answer questions. I was able to touch a snake but declined to hold it. We saw a bushmaster, terciopelo (our dreaded fer de lance), vipers, etc. There are 26 species of hummingbirds in the hummingbird garden and it was like standing still while jewels flew around us.
The butterfly observatory has an on-site laboratory so we were able to see the process from egg to caterpillar to butterfly. One exhibit I liked a lot is the Casita de la Paz - a house built using only the tools that were available to the average farmer one hundred years ago. There are two cows for milk, a pair of oxen, samples of freshly made tortillas .... we could see how Ticos lived and worked on farms a century ago.
Since we missed a few of the exhibits, we will have to return. I would like to experience the natural hot springs. We can recommend La Paz Waterfall Gardens to residents and visitors alike.