Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve

The Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve is located on the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula, at a height of between 100 and 700 meters. Its 900 hectares are considered a part of Costa Rica’s biological passage. On the Nicoya Peninsula this protected patch hosts large zones of primary forest with giant trees, flourishingly decorated with mosses, vines and several orchids. Owing to a major reforestation program, this dry forest is now on the verge of being transformed into a humid forest and boasts a nice variety of flora and fauna, many of which are perilously sitting on the brink of extinction. Rare animals such as the ocelots, jaguars, pumas and otters make the forest their home and innumerable birds and butterflies can be spotted here.

The Karen Mogensen Reserve is owned by Asepaleco (Ecological Association of Paquera, Lepanto, Cóbano) a community non-profit association for conservation and environmental education housed in Jicaral, 20 km to the north of Playa Naranjo. Asepaleco frequently organizes tours in the Karen Mogenson Reserve and other local community centered ecotourism destinations such as to Isla Chira and Isla Venado, both located in the Gulf of Nicoya. Visitors can explore mangroves, watch locals fishing and get a good idea of the community’s fascinating everyday life. Of course, this isn’t one of the more popular national parks in the region, but visitors can nevertheless enjoy the quiet beauty and unpretentious virgin charm of this area, while enjoying a large number of activities in the vicinity.

The Karen Mogensen Reserve is slightly off the hackneyed touristy destinations and as such are a good option if you want to see the more unexplored side of Costa Rica. To completely explore the reserve and its attractions one must consider staying in the reserve’s guest house. The Cerro Escondido Lodge is located on an elevated forest passage, reached on an hour long trail through the reserve. Travelers can also opt to ride to the lodge on horseback from the village of Montaña Grande (about a couple of hours ride).

For a day trip, visitors can hike to the Velo de Novia waterfall which falls over the rocks from an elevation of 84 m. It creates a natural pool and visitors can bathe in the sparkling clear Rio Blanco waters. The hike to the waterfall takes approximately 40 min at a time and one has to hop across the river many times.

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