Costa Rica is truly a bird watcher's paradise. In 2019, 922 species of birds were counted that could be seen in the country. About 600 of them were determined to be resident birds and the others are seasonal as they migrate from the North American winter. Hummingbird fans can also be happy because, of the 341 species, 52 can be seen here. How else can we call a small portion of this planet with more bird species than the United States and Canada combined?
2020 was the perfect moment to pursue one of my passions and what better place than Paraiso Quetzal Lodge. This place has become a mandatory destination for bird lovers, as its observation tours are among the most popular. But the place is worth visiting not only for the incredible amount of birds that you can observe on their property. This family business has turned their lands and those of their neighbors into biological corridors, making many species of birds feel safe again and move freely between Los Quetzales and Tapantí National Parks. Years ago, their grandparents made a living by cutting down the trees in the area, but today this has changed completely.
By involving local families in their tourism programs, this family has begun to build artificial nests for quetzals. These are called artificial because they are man-made, but they use the same wood from the trees that this species usually uses to build its nests. The artificial nests are placed on the properties of local families who have joined the program, making the quest to observe quetzals much easier. Quetzals can now be seen year-round, which has drawn more and more tourists to the lands of program members. Each family receives a percentage per visitor who enters their property and, with this, the locals are becoming aware that the value of birds and the conservation of forests is greater if they are protected.
Paraíso Quetzal Lodge was born in the land of their grandparents, but it transformed their vision into ecotourism experiences and with it this generation is re-learning to live with nature, educating local families and tourists equally, and focusing their efforts to restore what was once a beautiful and living cloud forest.