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The most important bird paradise of Costa Rica !!

Palo Verde National Park nestled down in the Tempisque River Valley is one of the most important bird paradises in Costa Rica

Palo Verde National Park nestled down in the Tempisque River Valley is one of the most important bird paradises in Costa Rica, the Palo Verde National Park ( 506/ 671-1062, www.ots.ac.cr).

The park was once a massive ranch that was used – and still is – by the Organization for Tropical Studies to investigate its unique dry-forest ecosystem. In 1977 it was named a national park, yet cattle still graze in many parts and help keep down the vegetation, reflecting a symbiotic relationship with the birds that have come to seek refuge. Plus, cattle businesses benefit the local economy.

To get to Palo Verde National Park, follow the signs one hour west from Bagaces, a small town halfway between Cañas and Liberia on the Inter- American Highway.

The best time to see birds is during the dry season when they congregate around the water holes very near the ranger station. Scarlet macaws are the big attraction here, even for non-birders. The administration will refer you to local boatmen who will provide transportation over to Isla Pájaros, an important nesting ground.

Arrange in advance. Observation of “Bird Island” is from the boat only. Do not scare up a flock for photos – it disturbs their nesting cycle and can result in a fine for you.

If you want to stay close to Palo Verde, try the new luxury B&B, Rancho Humo (. 506/255-2463, $$$), located near Puerto Humo on the west bank of the Tempisque River. Reservations required. Follow the signs from the ferry to Nicoya. Eco-tourists will be happy a bit upriver at the Coopeortega (www. agroecoturismo.net is their Spanish-language site) cooperative in Bolson, accessed from Santa Cruz on the Nicoya Peninsula.

The communities of Bolson and Ortega offer family lodging, boat trips on the Tempisque, Charco and Bolson rivers to see the crocodiles and birds, as well as horseback riding through the towns, farms and wetlands. They cook typical country food and have folk dancing and music.


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