The Karen Mogensen Reserve
The Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve is located in the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula, at an altitude between 100 and 700 meters. Its 900 hectares form part of Costa Rica's biological corridor.
On the Nicoya Peninsula this protected zone hosts large areas of primary forest with giant trees, lushly adorned with mosses, vines and many orchids. Due to a reforestation program the dry tropical forest is now in transition to a humid forest and boasts a spectacular array of flora and fauna, many of which are in danger of extinction.
Rare animals like ocelots, jaguars, pumas and otters make the forest their home and countless birds and butterflies can be seen. See also » Costa Rica Animals in the Wildlife Guide
The entrance to the reserve is in San Ramón de Rio Blanco, reached on a 16 km dirt road from Jicaral.
For a day jaunt you can hike to the Velo de Novia waterfall which cascades over the rocks from a height of 84 m. It feeds a pool in which you can bathe in the crystal clear waters of the Rio Blanco. The hike to the waterfall takes aproximately 40 min one way and you have to cross the river several times so better put appropriate foot wear.
Cerro Escondido Lodge:
The Karen Mogensen Reserve is off the beaten tourist path and to fully explore the reserve and its attractions you should consider to stay in the reserve's guest house. The Cerro Escondido Lodge is located high up in the forest, reached on a 1-hour trail hike through the reserve. You can also choose to ride to the lodge on horseback from the village of Montaña Grande (1.5 hour ride).
Accommodation is offered in two wooden cabins fronted by large verandas that open to the forest. Each cabin has two rooms with bunk beds and a private bathroom. Total capacity is for up to 16 people. The cabins are lit by a solar system and there is a restaurant which serves vegetarian and typical dishes for the guests.
Cerro Escondido Lodge is surrounded by primary forest and there are several hiking trails through the lush jungle. Many rivers have their source in the reserve and you can bathe in waterfalls and creeks while watching the surrounding nature and wildlife.
Ecotourism for conservation and sustainable development
The Karen Mogensen Reserve is owned by Asepaleco (Ecological Association of Paquera, Lepanto, Cóbano) a communal non-profit association for conservation and environmental education located in Jicaral, 20 km north of Playa Naranjo. Asepaleco organizes tours in the Karen Mogenson Reserve and other community based ecotourism destinations such as to Isla Chira and Isla Venado, both islands in the Gulf of Nicoya. There you can explore the mangroves, watch artisan fishing and get an insight of the daily lifes of the local communities.