Forest Park, Birds and Butterflies of Guaynabo
Formally known as ‘Parque Forestal La Marquesa’, we were recently there, twice in the last 2 weeks. The first pass was with our Photo MeetUp Group to tour the grounds and then the second time was with family visiting from the mainland to do the Zip-line thing.
I finally got to do a Zip-line run through the jungle canopy. More about that, a little later in.
The Forest Park is a relatively new venue, funded and operated by Guaynabo City. So new, it is not featured on Guaynabo’s Official Spanish language website or on Wikipedia’s listing for Guaynabo City. Nor does it show up on GoogleMaps.
Most of Guaynabo sets in the valley below, but part of it extends into the mountains to the south.
The Park is not too hard to find.
Fortunately, our intrepid leader for the first trip lives in Guaynabo so he has been to the park several times and knew the way. Basically, once you get on Highway 20 (Exspreso Martinez Nadal) heading south, you’re set. There are brown signs pointing the way there. Near the very end, you will run into a 5 way intersection, but shoot straight across and you’ll be fine.
I wish I could give a better description of the route there, but some roads are not marked on GoogleMaps.
So pay strict attention to the brown signs. We had no problem finding it a second time, on our own. We took Highway 52 from the south to Highway 199 going west. This took us to Highway 20 going south again. We did exit for Highway 169, but crossed it directly based on the signs. I don’t know what the roads are called after that. Sorry. Wish I had got the GPS coords when we were there. Maybe someone will leave a comment with them.
Costs were not too bad for the venue. Parking was a flat rate.
You could get there early and spend all day if you wanted. There are restroom facilities at strategic spots and a covered picnic area with formal playground along the shuttle train route. Both times we were there, families were making the most of it. A fenced pedestrian walkway runs the entire route as well as a few side trails too. They are all well marked. I did not do too much exploring off the main path as my ankles were giving me grief.
The park is closed Mondays. It is open from 9AM to 5PM, Tuesday through Sunday. As of this post, rates were $5.35 for adults, $3.21 for children and seniors (65+). Parking was a buck. You can request a brochure and small map when you buy your tickets, but it’s in Spanish only.
The only gondola tram on the island… sort of
Before detailing our experiences (and they were ALL good), one of the things this Park is known for is its overhead gondola tramway. Like you would find at a ski resort. They bill it as the only one on the island. Unfortunately, it was not working either time we were there and it looks more like it’s closed than just down for service. I asked about it, but no one had any answers. It may be that there is simply not enough traffic to justify keeping it open. I’m only speculating here and if it reopens, I’ll post a comment to that effect. As I understand it, it costs extra to ride the tram so that could explain some of the issues with it.
The facility at the top has a dedicated space for a large restaurant, but it currently sits empty. It was being used as a small art gallery the first time we were there. This would make for an interesting experience… a tram ride and dinner. It could happen.
There is ample parking, but I’m sure the lots will fill up on the weekends. From the parking lot, you head over to the ticket office to pay for parking and get your wrist band for riding the trolley up and back. This lower area has a beautiful fountain and and a large covered bench area for waiting to get on the trolley. The bottom part of the tram is located here too.
There are also pop machines here if you are thirsty. Word of warning- It’s a good idea to buy at these first vending machines because you may find the machines at the upper level are sold out.
The facility at the top has soda machines, they were both empty the first time we were there.
Off to explore the Park
Both of the little shuttle trolleys looked brand new. One of them had a car that would accommodate a wheelchair. That is pretty rare for most venues in PR. The ride up to the main facility was beautifully manicured, very lush and very clean. I was impressed. The facility at the top was equally impressive.
The main attraction of the Park is its screened, outdoor Aviary and dedicated Butterfly enclosure.
In addition to the closed restaurant space, there was also a central information desk and AV room for making presentations.
Before they let you into the Aviary, park personal warn folks about ‘tormenting’ the big birds as they will peck you if you mess with them.
The birds are quite used to people so you can walk right up to ‘most’ of them. A few will even try to land on your shoulder and try to nibble your ear. Always be careful and move slowly so as not to freak them out.
The second time we were there was on a Thursday with lots of school kids.
Everyone seemed well behaved. After the kids left, we pretty much had the Aviary to ourselves. It was magical. Very peaceful, very serene. If I come back a 3rd time, I want to try to catch a few birds in flight. I could do this with a slightly long exposure so as to blur parts of the shot as I pan around.
The Aviary is a pretty large space.
The Butterfly Garden is much smaller. It includes closed display cabinets showing cocoons in various stages of development. The incubation of caterpillar eggs takes place inside a small closed room, but it has a large window so you can see what they are up to.
Monarch butterflies were flitting around outside in the garden.
Just a short distance down from the upper facility is a dedicated Arboretum featuring a large dinosaur sculpture out front and another just past the entrance. We did not venture up the Arboretum path as it’s pretty steep. Maybe next time.
From there, we walked back up to the Aviary and Butterfly Garden to catch the shuttle back down to the lower facility where the parking is. It was a beautiful day, both days we were there.
Our second trip was to take in the Canopy Tour Zip-line.
I’ll have a video to post up at which time I’ll elaborate on that experience. But just so ya know, it was a BLAST!!! That ‘crude’ video will take another week to edit down so stay tuned. UPDATE: Here’s a link to the YouTube Post.
All in all, we had a great time.
I was disappointed that the Tram was closed, but ‘Parque Forestal La Marquesa’ still rates a solid 5 skulls.
If you have some extra time to kill, especially if you like shooting birds and nature, then this is a ‘must see’. It’s easy to find as long as you follow Highway 20 south and keep track of the brown signs. Hopefully, they will put up a website dedicated to it.
As always, some much larger images may be seen over on me Scurvy FaceBook Page.. ARRG!
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