San Gerardo de Dota
San Gerardo de Dota
The beloved mountain community of San Gerardo de Dota embraces outdoor enthusiasts and birders like a warm blanket. Thankfully so, because the cool and misty river valley sits at approximately 6,600 feet (roughly 2,200 meters) altitude and is surrounded by the dense cloud forest and peaks of the Talamanca mountains.
Despite its far-away feeling, San Gerardo is only 90 km from San Jose up the steep and windy Route 2 (the Inter-American Highway). Drivers, watch the kilometer markers as you ascend, San Gerardo is just off kilometer-marker #80 and can be easily missed in foggy conditions.
The narrow valley of San Gerardo de Dota has a handful of cozy eco-lodges, the quaint local town of Dota, and a couple of rustic local eateries. The valley itself was formed by the Savegre River on its quest to the Pacific where it deposits some of Costa Rica’s cleanest water into the ocean shore near Quepos.
Why visit San Gerardo de Dota?
The region’s biodiversity is astounding. As part of the Cerro de la Muerte Range, the river valley and descent to the coast is one of the last biological corridors connecting the Central American Cordillera with the Pacific. Over 2,000 species live in the Savegre basin, of which 1,972 are native to the area. The region is also home to 20 percent of the country’s flora, 54 percent of its mammals, and 59 percent of its birds.
Around San Gerardo de Dota alone there are at least 180 species of birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal and a host of coveted – and fun to name – species such as the buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge, sooty-capped bush tanager, tufted flycatcher, Dusky Nightjar, Highland Tinamou, and a whole lot of hummingbirds, among many, many others.
Besides birding and hiking, trout fishing and waterfalls are a big draw for outdoorsy types. Most of the area’s ecolodges take advantage of the cool and clean Savegre waters and redirect small streams to form trout hatcheries. The resulting fat and abundant schools of trout don’t make much of a challenge for sport-fisher folk, but they’re delicious when cooked up by one of the local chefs.