It’s amazing how many national parks, conservation areas, wildlife refuges and private reserves there are in Costa Rica.
One little-known private reserve, not far from L’acqua Viva Resort & Spa, is the Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve in the mountains of the Nicoya Peninsula.
The Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve is a wildlife refuge and reforestation project that serves as an important biological corridor between the Cabo Blanco Reserve and Barra Honda National Park on the Nicoya Peninsula. The reserve is named after passionate Danish environmentalist, Karen Mogensen, who with her Swedish husband, Olaf Nicolas Wessberg, founded Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, Costa Rica's first national park, at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Established in 1996, the 2,250-acre park protects large areas of primary forest with giant trees, lushly adorned with mosses, vines and many orchids. Native habitat regeneration and environmental education are some of the principal goals of the non-profit Ecological Association of Paquera, Lepanto, Cóbano (ASEPALECO) that administers the reserve. With the help of local farmers planting trees and removing property fences for free movement of wildlife, the land has transformed from open farmland to thriving jungle.
Trails through the preserve weave through dense forest ranging in altitude from 325 to 2,300 feet, and across rivers – many of which provide drinking water to surrounding towns. You can hike to Bridal Veil Waterfall, a spectacular 60-foot cascade that empties into an aquamarine swimming hole; the hike takes approximately 40 minutes one way. You can also hike one hour up to the rustic Cerro Escondido Lodge on a small mountaintop in the reserve, featuring an orchid garden and a restaurant that serves vegetarian and traditional Costa Rican meals. For lunch, you need to make arrangements in advance with park officials.
Wildlife watching is excellent in the reserve's primary and secondary forests. Residing here are howler monkeys, white-faced monkeys, otters, deer, pumas, ocelots, countless butterflies, and at least 240 bird species, including three-wattled bellbirds, motmots, spectacled owls, and long-tailed manikins.
L'acqua Viva Resort & Spa at Playa Guiones in Nosara, Costa Rica can arrange tours to the Karen Mogensen Reserve. Nosara is recommended as one of the best places to go in 2014 by CNN and National Geographic, and also is renowned for some of the best surfing in Costa Rica. Close by is the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, famous for the hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles that come to lay their eggs from July to December. The Costa Rica luxury hotel is offering special low season rates from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15, 2014.
Article by Shannon Farley