Last Updated: May 22, 2013
In 2000, Victor Hugo Quesada and his wife Ofelia founded El Serpentario Zoologico del Castillo, today known as the Arenal EcoZoo. A lifetime aficionado of snakes and amphibians, Quesada's vision began with informal displays and soon grew into a major tourist attraction. Today, the Arenal EcoZoo is one of Costa Rica's largest serpentariums and is home to 70 species of snakes, as well as turtles, butterflies, lizards and crocodiles. The park emphasizes education on the nation's reptiles and amphibians and care of the fragile ecosystem.
Location : El Castillo
Altitude : 1,932 feet above sea level
Hours : 8:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. daily
Telephone : 2479-1058 or 2479-1059
Entrance Fee : $16 Adults & $10 Children
Of Costa Rica's approximately 200 reptile species, approximately 80 live at the EcoZoo. Large terrariums reproduce the animals' natural habitats, and tours focus on the reptiles' behavior, biology and role in the wild. Eliza, an 18-foot Burmese python, is the EcoZoo's most famous resident. She often comes out for a meet and greet – and photo op – during serpentarium tours.
The zoo's frog habitats are home to some 30 amphibian species. Many nocturnal species, and less common frogs and toads can be difficult to spot in the wild, but are easily seen at the EcoZoo. Spiny-headed tree frogs, glass tree frogs, and banded tree frogs are just three of the amphibians that make their home at the park.
The Arenal EcoZoo also has a butterfly garden and insect habitat. Here, strategically placed fruits prove irresistible to colorful butterflies. Next door, glassed terrariums house tarantulas, scorpions and golden orb spiders, one of Costa Rica's largest and most beautiful arachnids. Knowledgeable guides are always available to answer questions or discuss the butterfly's life cycle, and happily point out butterfly eggs, caterpillars and cocoons to interested guests. Night tours, which highlight the park's nocturnal species, are also available by reservation.
The Arenal EcoZoo has an onsite restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. They also offer accommodations, including rental houses and rooms, for up to 100 people.
The Arenal area is warm and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 67-88 °F. The dry season lasts from December though April, but light rains are common year-round. We recommend carrying an umbrella or other rain gear.
From La Fortuna: Take Route 142 west toward Tilaran. Continue 1.25 miles past Tabacon Hot Springs. Look for signs to Arenal EcoZoo. At the small police station, turn left onto the gravel road and drive approximately 6.2 miles into the town of El Castillo. Following signs, turn left and drive 1/4 mile up a hill until you reach Arenal EcoZoo.
From Nuevo Arenal: Take Route 142 east toward La Fortuna. Cross over the Arenal Dam and drive until you see a small police station. Turn right on the gravel road and drive into the town of El Castillo. Following signs, turn left and drive 1/4 mile up a hill until you reach Arenal EcoZoo.