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. It spans 960 hectares of protected land, and an additional 12,000 hectares of secondary forest surrounding the reserve.
Besides conserving flora and fauna, the reserve also plays an important role as it protects essential springs and water resources of the entire southern Nicoya Peninsula. In the 1960’s and 70's cattle boom the majority of woodland in this region was destroyed, causing loss of wildlife habitat but also soil erosion and continous soil degradation. In 1991 a private initiative was founded to revert the process, protect the watersheds, nature and animal life.
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. There are still some parts with original primary forest left and giant trees are lushly adorned with mosses, vines and many orchids.
Rare animals like ocelots, jaguars, pumas and otters make the forest their home and countless birds and butterflies can be seen. » Animals in Costa Rica
The Karen Mogensen Reserve is owned by ASEPALECO a private non-profit organization dedicated to conservation and environmental education. The entrance to the reserve is in San Ramón de Rio Blanco, reached on a 16 km dirt road from Jicaral. All visitors must be accompanied by one of the reserve's nature guides.
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.