It is amazing how many national parks, conservation areas, wildlife refuges and private reserves there are in the tiny country of Costa Rica. In the mountains of the Pacific Nicoya Peninsula, one little-known private reserve is the Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve.
A wildlife refuge and reforestation project, the Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve serves as an important biological corridor between the Cabo Blanco Reserve and Barra Honda National Park on the Costa Rica Nicoya Peninsula. The reserve is named after Danish environmentalist, Karen Mogensen, who with her Swedish husband, Olaf Nicolas Wessberg, founded Costa Rica’s first national park, Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve, at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.
The Karen Mogensen Nature Reserve protects 2,250 acres of primary and secondary forest with giant trees, lushly adorned with mosses, vines and 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 founded the reserve in 1996. In less than 20 years, the land has transformed from open farmland to thriving jungle with the help of local farmers planting trees and removing property fences.
You can hike trails through the preserve to Bridal Veil Waterfall, a stunning 60-foot cascade that empties into a pristine swimming hole; the hike takes approximately 40 minutes one way. You can also hike one hour up a small mountain to the rustic Cerro Escondido Lodge, featuring an orchid garden and a restaurant that serves vegetarian and traditional Costa Rican meals. You need to make arrangements in advance with park officials for lunch.
Wildlife watching is excellent in the reserve: 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.
Stay in the area at L’acqua Viva Resort & Spa at Playa Guiones in Nosara, Costa Rica. 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. L’acqua Viva Resort can arrange tours to the Karen Mogensen Reserve, and also the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, famous for the multitudes 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