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Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve

Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve

Quick Facts

  • Location : San Ramon de Rio Blanco
  • Altitude : 325 to 2,300 feet
  • Area : 2,250 acres
  • Hours : 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Telephone : 2650-0607
  • Entrance Fee : $7 Adults & $5 Students

The Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve serves both as a wildlife refuge and reforestation project, and also works to promote environmental education. Native habitat regeneration is one of the reserve's principal goals, and local farmers have embraced the project by helping plant trees and removing fences along their own properties. Less than 15 years after the reserve's creation, Karen Mogensen's lands have transformed from open farmland to flourishing jungle.

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Established in 1996, the private reserve serves as an important biological corridor between the Cabo Blanco Reserve and Barra Honda National Park. The nonprofit Paquera, Lepanto, and Cobano Ecological Association (ASEPALECO) administers the reserve, which gets its name from a passionate Danish environmentalist who was key in establishing the nearby Cabo Blanco Reserve.

Trails through the preserve weave through dense forest and mountain rivers – many of which provide drinking water to surrounding towns – and lead to Bridal Veil Falls, a spectacular 60-foot cascade that empties into an aquamarine swimming hole. Wildlife watching is excellent; the reserve's primary and secondary forests are home to howler monkeys, otters, ocelots, deer, pumas, white-faced monkeys and at least 240 bird species, including three-wattled bellbirds, motmots, spectacled owls, and long-tailed manikins. Daily birdwatching tours depart just before dawn.


The reserve accepts volunteers to help collect seeds, maintain trails, plant trees, and perform other tasks. There is a daily fee of $18, which covers accommodations and three meals per day. The minimum commitment for volunteers is three weeks.


In addition to miles of trails, the Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve also has an orchid garden and restaurant that serves traditional Costa Rican meals with vegetarian options. The reserve houses the Cerro Escondido Lodge, which can facilitate up to 18 guests. Horseback transportation into the reserve can be arranged in advance.


The reserve's varying elevations yield a range of temperatures and weather conditions. It is best to go prepared – wear layers and always carry rain gear.

Getting There:

Bus: From San Jose, take the bus to Jicaral (6:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.; 4 hours. 2257-1835. Departs from the San Carlos bus stop in Barrio Mexico.). Since the reserve is located ten miles from Jicaral, and there is no public transportation to the reserve, you must contact ASEPALECO at least 48 hours before arrival to arrange 4x4 transportation into the park. Cerro Escondido Lodge and other facilities are a one-hour hike from the entrance. Note that in order to reach the lodge before sundown, you must take the 6:00 a.m. bus out of San Jose.

Car: From San Jose, take the Interamerican Highway (Route 1) toward Liberia. Several miles after La Amistad Bridge, turn left on route 21 and follow signs to Jicaral. From Jicaral, follow the gravel road to San Ramon de Rio Blanco for ten miles, until you reach the entrance to ASEPALECO in the village of San Ramon. From the reserve entrance, it is a one-hour hike to reach reserve facilities, including Cerro Escondido Lodge. Note that to reach the lodge before dark, you must arrive at ASEPALECO before 3:00 p.m.

Ferry: From San Jose, take the Caldera Highway west to Puntarenas. Take the ferry across the Gulf of Nicoya to Naranjo where you'll follow the coastal road north to Jicaral. In Jicaral, take the gravel road toward San Ramon and drive approximately ten miles to the entrance of ASEPALECO. From the entrance, it is a one-hour hike to reach reserve facilities, including Cerro Escondido Lodge.

Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve in Pictures

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