My wife and I visited El Copal Reserve in July 2013. Last year, while on the Caribbean coast, we visited a BriBri village that is associated with ACTUAR. That was such a great visit, that we decided to look at some of the other locations in their association. After reading about most of them, we decided that El Copal sounded like the kind of place we would like to visit.
Though it is a little challenging to get there (should have 4WD), the total experience is worth the challenge. If you miss San Jose rush hour, and take the most direct route, it is only about a 2 hour drive from the airport.
It is owned by a group of local people, mostly farmers, and they have turned this place into one of the best locations in Costa Rica to see an amazing variety of birds and other wildlife. Total size of the property is about .7 square miles, but the elevation ranges from 1000 to 1250 meters. There are several well-maintained trails throughout the property, some difficult, but some easy. Because I am handicapped and need a cane, I only used the easy trails. But they were amazing for butterflies and birds.
There is a lodge with some dormitory rooms with shared bath, as well as a couple of rooms with private bath. There are also 2 handicapped accessible cabins with private bath. All of the electricity and hot water here are produced using solar devices. The rooms are simple, but very clean and well maintained.
A dining hall, named "The Cotinga" (for a bird that can be seen here), uses only candles for light during evening meals.
Beto and Patricia Torres, some of the nicest and most patient people you will ever meet, run this place. They speak only Spanish, but they had a way of making communication with non-Spanish speakers fun. Beto and other men in the group that own this facility build and maintain the buildings and trails. Patricia cooks delicious meals (the best we had in Costa Rica), mostly using products produced on the local farms. Beto and Patricia joined us for all of the meals, and we learned more Spanish while eating with them than we did during the rest of our 3 week trip.
The scenery is amazing, with mountains surrounding it. Wide covered balconies with benches and chairs, 60 meters long (I measured them) provided opportunities to see birds at very close range. After hiking in the morning, I spent the whole afternoon on the balcony and saw so many beautiful tropical birds at close range that I was sad to see the day end. It was a perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon, with the birds coming to me rather than me seeking them out.
One side is second growth forest with very large trees. One side has fruit trees that are filled with tanagers and other birds that eat fruit. Another side has flowers planted that attract lots of hummingbirds, including the Snowcap. During our two nights and one full day here we saw 11 different species of hummers. The balcony is at canopy level for trees that are about 100 feet away and give great opportunities to see those that prefer this habitat.
We made arrangements for this visit through ACTUAR in San Jose. They helped us with some issues that came up, and made this the highlight of our trip.
They arranged for Cristhian Ureña, a local bilingual naturalist from Peregrinus Tours to provide guide services for us. He was an excellent guide, knows the environment of this area well, and is very passionate about El Copal. During our short stay, he helped us identify about 80 species of birds, many of them first timers for us.
If you come to Costa Rica to see birds, this is a must go location. I recommend it highly.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.