Costa RicaCosta Rica

Snakes and Angels

Destination: Dominical

After a blissful night's rest at Cuna del Angel, I wanted nothing more than a day of pampering at their European spa. Turkish baths, chocolate body wraps and foot reflexology were just a few of the wellness treatments available.

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My indulgence would have to wait, as I had a date with Quetzal and Monica, owners of Parque Reptilandia. Housing more than 65 species of reptiles and amphibians, Parque Reptilandia is a bonanza of forked tongues and scales.

Located on the outskirts of Dominical, the park features a myriad of creatures from petite poison dart frogs to enormous lizards and snakes. Every Friday is feeding day, and I had arrived just in time to watch a Mexican beaded lizard devour a mouse.

On my self-guided tour, I saw species native to Costa Rica as well as to faraway parts of the world. Venomous snakes such as the eyelash pit viper and terciopelo were coiled alongside giant boa constrictors. Vibrant basilisk lizards and water monitors basked in large open enclosures.

The star attraction at Parque Reptilandia had to be its fearsome looking Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard. With a body spanning nearly eight feet in length, the Komodo gives the impression of a modern-day dinosaur.

While each exhibit is well-signed in both Spanish and English, guided tours are available for those who want more detailed information. Monica and Quetzal also give presentations to school groups about local reptile species to help promote environmental awareness.

On my return to Puertocito, I stopped for a light ceviche lunch at La Parcela, a cliff-top restaurant with fabulous coastal views. I was saving my appetite for later, as Cuna del Angel's restaurant had received nothing but rave reviews. Over a glass of wine in the palapa, I watched the sunset and chatted with fellow guests.

Dinner was a feast for the senses -- tender beef medallions in a wild mushroom sauce with a hint of Drambui, paired with a silky Syrah. A dish of homemade pistachio ice cream served by attending angels perfected the heavenly experience.

Snakes and Angels in Pictures

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