San Gerardo Station
Date: April 11, 2023
The largest private reserve in Costa Rica is the "Bosque Eterno de los Niños" (the eternal forest of the children) covering over 20,000 hectares. The reserve is owned and run by a local non-profit organization called the Monteverde Conservation League but most interestingly, the land for the reserve has been purchased with funds largely raised by children’s rain forest groups around the world. The Bosque Eterno de los Niños is not one continuous piece of land but is constituted of several smaller reserves and research stations.
We visited the San Gerardo research station where you have to make a reservation before the visit to make sure the station is manned that day. Also, when making the reservation it is possible to order a home-cooked lunch at the station so that's what we did.
The entrance to the 3.5 km foot path leading to San Gerardo Station is right next to the entrance to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest reserve. However, while Santa Elena Cloud Forest was very popular with visitors, we were the only two people visiting San Gerardo Station that day. Whereas Santa Elena Cloud Forest was indeed very cloudy and humid, the San Gerardo Station is on the other side of the mountain at a lower altitude and thus much drier.
Here is Felicie standing next to a very large plant next to the path leading to the entrance of San Gerardo Station:
As we arrived to the lodge of the station, we were greeted by two young men that were there that day to cook us lunch. At the lodge, where it is possible to book an overnight stay there was a panoramic window in the dining room with an impressive view over the mountain towards the partly cloud-hidden Arenal volcano at the bank of Lake Arenal:
Before lunch we hiked most of the trails close to the lodge:
Even though the reserve was a lot drier than the cloud forest we had visited before, there are still plants growing everywhere:
Arenal almost came out of its cloud cover while we had lunch at the lodge:
After a delicious lunch of rice, fried chicken, salad and freshly fried cassava chips, we explored more of the trails:
A few days later we visited the Bajo del Tigre (Jaguar Canyon) reserve which is another Bosque Eterno de los Niños property. The reserve got its name because it was the place where the last pair of jaguars in the Santa Elena area were hunted and killed in 1949. Different attempts are being made to encourage the return of the jaguars to the area and some luck has been had in the more remote parts of the Bosque Eterno de los Niños. However, we did not see any jaguars but heard a lot of different birds and caught a picture of an agouti coming out from under the trees right next to the parking lot: