The Corcora Cloud Forest Butterfly Farm, located in the mountains above the community of San Ramon and approximately an hour and 15 minutes drive from the international airport, is an excellent example of a rural sustainable tourism project being operated by a Costa Rican family.
In 2007, Wilberth González Castro, along with his wife Giselle Chaves Flores, and daughter Silvia and son Alfredo moved to the area from the hot lowlands of Orotina. At first it was difficult for them to get used to the mountain climate, but they soon learned to love their new home and its refreshing cooler temperatures.
To make a living, they opened a small, family-run general store in the area. However they realized they needed another enterprise to continue to make a living in the area. As they enjoyed working with nature, they began to raise butterflies in 2008 with the idea they could enter the market of exporting pupas for live butterfly exhibits to other countries. Unfortunately, the economic crisis of the time caused the price of butterflies to drop dramatically, and they found they could not operate economically in the same manner. Considering how to continue with their investment, they decided to open up their own butterfly exhibit to the public. Their location alongside the popular route to Arenal Volcano, with large numbers of national and international tourists passing by daily, encouraged them to try this attractive idea.
Initially they began raising 10 species of butterflies for the exhibit and then expanded this to 25 once they established the right host plants and conditions to raise them. Among the various species they have long-winged heliconias, glass wings, owl butterflies and the giant blue morpho. In the exhibit visitors can see all the four phases of raising the butterflies, from the egg stage, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult, as well as learn about the host plants they need.
To enhance their visitors’ experience, the owners have also added a hummingbird garden to the site using nectar-producing plants and nectar feeders. Visitors may see several of the fifteen native species that are attracted to the garden during a tour here. Another addition to their project, is a small forest trail through the cloud forest whereby visitors can admire the beautiful foliage of this rare type of rain forest.
In the near future, the González family also plans to add an orchid garden, a restaurant and a gift shop to their project.
For travelers to the Arenal area, this is a wonderful place to stop for a little break en route, and enjoy the beauty of the mountains along with butterflies, hummingbirds, and soon an exhibit of native mountain orchids.