La Paz Waterfall Garden and Wildlife Park


This garden is well worth taking the kids. There are a wide variety of animals to see and they will enjoy the cool walk of the waterfall. 

Our family saw many of these birds, insects and butterflies in the wild as we were travelling through Costa Rica but we knew that we would not get a chance to see jungle cats or snakes, and we definitely wanted the kids to see monkeys and sloths so we prioritised this trip as a must-do. We absolutely didn’t regret it because it also taught us names of the birds we ended up seeing in the wild. Our kids loved all the animals this park had to offer.

This park has many rescued animals that cannot live in the wild for various reasons so we were able to see jungle cats that are not easy to see in the wild. As a bonus, there is a well-paved track that leads you to four different waterfalls plus lookouts. Aside from all the steps back up from the waterfalls, the kids enjoyed this part too.

Humming Birds

I loved watching the speed at which the wings of the humming bird flutters. I finally understood where those fairy movies got their inspiration from. It was mesmerising to watch them hover in one spot and then flit to another spot or hover by a flower where they could drink the nectar. 

At the entrance to the park are humming bird feeders where so many of us tried to photograph these beautiful creatures or video them in slow-mo. Their wings flutter at 40-60 times per second. When they zip past your ear you hear a high pitched hum like the sound of a mini-fan. There are so many varieties of humming birds but they are all less than the size of an adult hand. The smallest one was about the size of Lui’s hand (he’s two years old). Check out the video, these birds fascinated us even though we saw them throughout Costa Rica. 


After visiting the jungles of Palenque and being disappointed about not seeing any monkeys, we made sure we saw these ones. One of the La Paz caretakers invited us to hold hands with a monkey. Although it looked leathery, their hand was surprisingly soft.


I had asked Kenzo what he wanted to see in Costa Rica and one of the top things on the list was “Snakes”. When we were at La Paz Waterfall Garden we saw lots of snakes. And we were all fascinated by different pieces of information about them. 

We saw a snake that could’ve been a vine hanging from one of the branches. Carmelo wondered about how tiny the organs were in one of the snakes that was as thin as a vine. 

We saw a snake that had shed it’s skin. 

Giselle educated us about how anti-venom is made, thanks to a reptiles book she used to read to herself at bedtime. We were all interested in the number of casualties due to snake bites. We learnt that Australia only has 10 deaths a year from snake bites and that there are many snakes in the Viper family across Costa Rica. Most of the snake deaths in Costa Rica will be from vipers. Apparently, 1 in 5 rural living people will be bitten by a viper in their lifetime and of that 10% will die.

Kenzo seemed excited to be in the snake room but creeped out at the same time, or maybe that’s just how I felt 🙂 Lui loved being shown all the different snakes and refused to leave the exhibit.

Jungle Cats

Jaguars are featured in a lot of artwork in Chiapas, Mexico but unfortunately we didn’t go see any. And I don’t think any of us wanted to see one in the wild. At the La Paz Waterfall Gardens we had the opportunity to see two sleepy adults and a young jaguar. The little one displayed agility and balance as it casually walked across thin branches from one side of it’s cage to the other. It put into perspective how easily a tree dwelling animal could be caught by a jaguar.

There was also a tree ocelot that was sleeping and a jungle ocelot that we couldn’t find. These ocelots are near threatened. The ocelots look similarl to jaguars.

La Paz also had these pumas that look like lionesses.


There was a pretty orchid garden that reminded me of the varieties that we saw in Mexico.


These tiger frogs were green while sleeping and so they are camouflaged against the leaves. Once they wake up they become very colourful with an orange and black belly. 

Black and green poison army dart frogs and strawberry poison dart frogs eat fire ants when in the wild making them very toxic to handle. But here in the park the toxicity in their coat of slime was not as strong. 

Buffet Lunch

The buffet lunch catered to all of our differing taste buds and was cost effective. It also was a great place to rest after walking up and down the hill. The toilets were really cool too. The faucets were rocks and the taps looked like a mini waterfalls.


Monarch butterflies and Blue Morpho butterflies are very common in Costa Rica. We saw these in the butterfly house along with some insects.

Just like in Malaysia, Carmelo was able to rest a butterfly in his hand, I call him the butterfly whisperer.

Interesting Things

There were a variety of birds in the aviary and we also saw two cows pulling this cart. Apparently the designs on this cart are typical of a traditionally decorated festive cart pulled by cows. 


La Paz had a few varieties of Toucans including the keel-billed and black mandibled. We didn’t know we would get a chance to see these in the wild so we savoured being so close to them here. We also saw noisy squawking parrots.


We saw two toed sloths being enticed to move around thanks to feeding time. But one of the sloths didn’t bother to move at all. They spend about twenty hours of their day sleeping. These sloths are different to the ones we saw at Monteverde. They do not need to regulate their body temperature because they live in very warm climates. Again, we didn’t know if we would see these in the wild but fortunately we saw both two-toed and three-toed later in our trip through Costa Rica.


My knowledge of birds is limited. Honestly, I would’ve thought this was a hawk or an eagle if we hadn’t been taught the name when we visited La Paz Waterfall Garden.


There are five beautiful waterfalls to visit at La Paz. It was refreshing to be near the cool mist of each waterfall after carrying Lui up and down so many stairs in the heat. 

It was nearing closing time so we skipped the last two falls, headed to the gift ship and waited for the shuttle back to the carpark. There was no way any of us were in the mood to walk all the way back to the top of the hill especially with all those stairs. 

At the gift shop we found more of these magnets. This rock is mined in Mexico and Costa Rica and is a lot of fun to play with.

Getting There

La Paz Waterfall Garden is about halfway between San Jose and La Fortuna. There are tours that will take you from either of these locations.

Because we hired a car we were able to drive there. We decided to use this park as way to break up the three hour journey from San Jose to La Fortuna. It had taken us one hour to get out of San Jose so it ended up being an four hour journey, including stops on the way. But from San Jose to La Paz Waterfalls is about one and half hours and from La Fortuna to La Paz is about two hours, all depending on traffic and how many stops your kids need along the way. The roads, once you are out of San Jose, are very smooth to drive on usually are well marked.

Seeing Coatis

If you drive a little further beyond La Paz there is a lookout where you can see a green gorge with a stream running through it. A little further on, these coatis (pronounced qua-tee) hang out on the side of the road, waiting for tourists to stop and feed them. Ajay got all of us to feed them so he could take some photos. I ran out of food and one of the coatis used it’s claws to climb up my pants to reach for more!

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