La Paz Waterfall Gardens

by Scott Setterberg November 08, 2018

La Paz Waterfall Gardens

The first stop on the Colors of Costa Rica photography tour is the spectacular La Paz Waterfall Gardens near Poas Volcano National Park.  This incredible destination combines well-developed hiking trails, five rainforest waterfalls, and an animal sanctuary with over one hundred species of wildlife in a butterfly observatory, free-range ranarium (frogs), serpentarium (snakes), jungle cat exhibit, monkey enclosure, tropical aviary, and hummingbird gardens.  

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan
As you step into the butterfly observatory, you are immediately transported into a joyous fantasy world, as hundreds of gorgeous Blue Morpho butterflies flutter about without a care in the world. 

Blue Morpho Butterfly
In the serpentarium, you get a close-up view of some of the most beautiful and deadly snakes in Costa Rica, including the Eyelash Viper (below) and much-feared Fer-De-Lance. The latter is an aggressive, nocturnal pit viper responsible for most of the snake bites in Costa Rica each year.  

Eyelash Viper
The free-range ranarium allows you to interact with the iconic Red-Eyed Tree Frog and see a variety of colorful, tiny, Poison Dart Frogs. 

Red Eye Tree Frog

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog
The monkey and jungle cat enclosures allow you see several species of jungle acrobats, including howler and white-faced monkeys, as well as fierce felines like the elusive jaguar and powerful puma.  In the aviary you can feed friendly toucans by hand and the hummingbird gardens attract twenty-six different species of colorful, fast-flying wizards.  

La Paz also hosts some of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica and the first one to greet you is Templo.  A nice footbridge, small beach area, and viewing platforms provide endless photo opportunities of the eighty-five-foot-tall spectacle.  

After a few dozen steps down a metal staircase, the towering Magia Blanca appears, and at 120 feet, it's the tallest waterfall at La Paz.  Like Templo, Magia Blanca can be viewed from several vantage points, one merely twenty feet from the thundering cascade.  

Magia Blanca
Encantada is third in the series of tropical waterfalls, and with full frame camera sensors, the inverted wedge-shaped beauty fills the frame nicely with a 24mm lens. Pro Tip: If you're shooting with a DX camera sensor, make sure to bring a wide angle lens or you won't be able to fit Encantada horizontally into your frame.  I recommend the Nikon 16-35mm f4 lens.  

Catarata Encantada, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica

Tucked behind Encantada is the appropriately titled Escondido (which translates to Hidden), and without a 200mm lens, it's tough to photograph on its own.  It does however accentuate Encantada nicely when photographed together.  Last but certainly not least on the waterfall trail is the powerful La Paz waterfall. This roaring, spray-spewing giant spills into a raging river below and there are excellent creative compositions to be found here.

Catarata La Paz, Costa Rica

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is an incredible cloud forest attraction that combines dozens of species of Costa Rica wildlife with sensational jungle waterfalls.  This fantastic location starts your photo tour off with a bang, and things only get better from there.  

Check out all our photography tours in Costa Rica, review the itineraries and dates, decide which photo tour works best for you, and reserve your spot.

See you soon in Costa Rica!  Pura Vida!


Scott Setterberg
Scott Setterberg