We have just spent 3 days in the cloud forest about 80km south of San Jose, in the area (not really a town) of San Gerardo de Dota, which is located within Los Quetzales National Park. To get there we took a bus along the Pan American Highway, and got dropped off in the section known as "Cerro de la Muerto" or "Mountain of Death". Driving through the clouds at an elevation of 3,000 meters it was easy to see why it was called this!
The lodge where we stayed was down the hill at "only" 2550 meters. The road was steep and the air was thin, as we found out walking up and down the trails and road. The forest and valley were scenic, and there were many birds to be watched, right from our window. Unlike the cloud forest in Monteverde, here we were often in or above the clouds. It was a fine show every day watching the progression from a clear morning to a cloudy afternoon or even a downpour. It was also nice to be cool.
We especially enjoyed dinner. The lodge only served breakfast and lunch, so we walked up the hill (and I do mean up) each night for dinner at local restaurant, run by two ladies. It was like eating in someone's living room, and the food, served family style, was fantastic. Luckily we could waddle back downhill to our place after dinner was over.
A highlight was seeing the Resplendent Quetzal, or Mayan Bird or paradise. It is also the national bird - of Guatemala. (The Costa Rican national bird is the Clay-Colored Robin, a visually uninspring but audibly appealing garden-dweller). We all saw Quetzals, at least once, and could see why it was a worthwhile endeavor to create a National Park in honor of it.
We will now be making our way to the Caribbean Coast.