La Fortuna, Costa Rica – There must be hundreds of Mariposarios in Costa Rica. It seems that every town has a butterfly house, where you can witness the life cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Last year we went to the Butterfly Conservatory in El Castillo, which was a big hit with the twins. This year we decided to check out Ecocentro Danaus, a few kilometers east of La Fortuna.
Like the Butterfly Conservatory, this place is not only a butterfly house, but also a biological refuge. Seventeen years ago, the private reserve was farmland; now it’s all secondary growth rain forest, home to some 150 species of birds, as well as a handful of reptiles and mammals. On our visit, we spotted a sleeping sloth, a giant iguana, a bunch of baby caimans, several boat-billed herons and a red-eyed tree frog.
Twin V insisted that the highlight of the 2-hour tour was seeing that “mean iguana”. The tour guide told him that male iguanas can be aggressive, using their tale as a whip to ward off threats or competitors. Any animal that might be mean or scary is tops in V’s book, despite the fact that the reptile just sat there like a lump on a log when we saw him.
From my perspective, it was the butterfly garden that seemed to engage and entertain the twins the most. Danaus is named for a genus of butterfly, which the twins got to know very well while they were here. They let the soft caterpillars crawl over their skin. The marveled at the hard, shiny cocoons. And then the saw the butterflies alighting on the flowers. It’s nothing we have not seen before, but it’s still pretty amazing when it’s taking place right in front of your eyes.
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