The road west from San Antonio de Belén  continues to La Guácima, known for the members-only Los Reyes Country Club. Local residents have painted buildings throughout the village with butterfly murals—art in the streets at its best.
This stable and stud farm (tel. 506/2439-0003 or 2439-0867, ranchosanmiguel [at] gmail [dot] com), about three kilometers north of La Guácima, raises Andalusian horses and has a tiny museum relating to horsemanship. The highlight is the Fantasia Ecuestre, a nocturnal one-hour dressage and horsemanship show to the accompaniment of classical Spanish music. It’s a fabulous experience.
The show is offered at 8 p.m. certain Saturdays; there are arrangements for groups, but individuals can also book. The show costs $26, $37 with dinner, or $42 including hotel transfers, cocktail, performance, and dinner. The stable also offers horse-riding lessons.
The Butterfly Farm (tel. 506/2438-0400, www.butterflyfarm.co.cr , 8:45 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily, $15 adults, $10 students, $7.50 children), established in 1983 as the first commercial butterfly farm in Latin America, has grown to be the second-largest exporter of living pupae in the world. A two-hour visit begins with a video documentary followed by a guided tour through the netted gardens and laboratory, where you witness and learn all about each stage of the butterfly life cycle. Hundreds of butterflies representing 60 native species flit about in an endless ballet.
The guides will show you the tiny eggs and larvae that are coded to “eat and grow, eat and grow.” If a newborn human baby ate at the same rate, it would grow to the size of a double-decker bus in two months. Although butterfly activity is greatly reduced in late afternoon, that’s the time to enjoy the spectacular show of the Caligo memnon (giant owl butterfly). The insects are most active on sunny days.
Guided tours are offered at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. daily. Hotel transfers are offered ($30 adults, $15 children) from San José at 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. daily.
Public buses depart hourly (less frequently Sun.) from Avenida 4, Calles 10/12, behind the Merced church in San José . Take the bus until the last stop (about 60 minutes), from where you walk—follow the signs—about 400 meters.
From Alajuela , buses marked La Guácima Abajo depart from Calle 10, Avenida 2, seven times daily. Ask the driver to stop at La Finca de Mariposas.