After three failed attempts — once near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, once in Monteverde National Park in Costa Rica, and once in Santa Elena National Park in Costa Rica — we finally saw one! Four in fact.
Parque Nacional Los Quetzales
We decided, or I suppose I forced, we’d give spotting the quetzal one final shot. One final cloud forest. So we chose the park with the name that alludes to its prominent feature. We also decided to hire a guide (we’d hired one in Guatemala as well). While our guide didn’t actually take us into the park — just a quick hike off the road, which kinda felt like a ripoff — he ultimately delivered. A moss-wrapped avocado tree where two males and two females were eating breakfast.
They were younger quetzals, as demonstrated by the length of the males’ (the more brightly colored ones) tails. Older males can have feathers up to three feet long — Moctezuma’s headdress in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City is made of quetzal feathers. They were breathtaking nonetheless. Check out these beauties below.
(The shot above and the first five below were taken with a Nikon P900; the bottom photo and video were taken with an iPhone through a Swarovski telescope, which is a remarkably crystal clear device. I suppose that’s where that description comes from. I’ve literally never seen anything like it.)