Pat Hewitt recommended that we stop here on the drive from Arenal to Monteverde. This garden on a sloped hillside directly across from Arenal Lake is now also a Butterfly Sanctuary, Wild Animal Rehab Center and sells plants and seeds. There were many native Costa Rican plants, trees and flowers in addition to a good selection of imported and introduced species. Overall, 2,200 species include a collection of Cycads and ferns. The trails climb a relatively steep grade and circle the entire facility. You can see the lake from the garden (photo 2). There is also a small Serpentarium on site - if you’re interested in becoming familiar with some of the indigenous snakes of Costa Rica. According to the website below, this is one of the three primary botanical gardens in Costa Rica (the other two are Wilson Botanical Gardens, and Lankester Gardens).
We paid a small admission fee (don't remember what it was but it is currently $10.00) and walked through the gardens reading the informational signs. We did not buy the booklet that was offered for sale. Current hours are 9-5. Visitors are limited to 20 per hour. Some sites indicate that it is closed in October. I took the picture because these are the same type flowering plants that I use in my window boxes in the shade or part shade at home.
The purpose of the garden is to "Preserve native species of plants. Create a habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife. Provide a location accessible to students, tourists and plant lovers. The Gardens are designed to be a living classroom where students, pros or amateurs are able to study all phases of plant husbandry and identification. Particular attention is given to environmental degradation in Costa Rica and especially the Lake Arenal region."
Because of health the owner is offering the Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Sanctuary and plant nursery was at one point for sale. $175,000
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gardens are Open 9am to 5pm
*Seven days a week November until May
*May until November closed on Sundays
*Guide Books in German, English and Spanish.
*Admission includes: Free Butterfly Guide Book plus Free Natural Fruit Drinks
From La Fortuna you can make a day trip to Cano Negro. A minivan will bring you in about 2 hours near the border of Nicaragua. Here you will find a nature park which consists of swamps and rivers. By boat you will explore the Rio Frio looking for many water and wading birds (king fishers, egrets, cormorants, ...) and caymans. After the boat trip you will get lunch in a local restaurant. The boat trip and restaurant was a nice attraction but the drive to and from was just too long.
We paid 55 USD/pp for this trip.