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San Gerardo de Dota/Costa Rica

Introducing San Gerardo de Dota

San Gerardo de Dota is unlike any other place in Costa Rica – a bucolic mountain town run through by a clear, rushing river and surrounded by forested hills that more resemble the alps than the tropics. It's set deep within a mountain valley; the air is crisp and fresh, and chilly at night, and orchard-lined Savegre basin hosts high-altitude species that draw bird-watchers from around the world. The elusive and resplendent quetzal is such a celebrity in these parts that in 2005 the national government demarcated a national park in its honor.

Visiting the national park is largely a self-organized, DIY affair since it has no permanent infrastructure, but the town of San Gerardo provides easy access to the trailheads and offers a wide assortment of tourist lodges. In stunning contrast to Costa Rica's famous tropical regions, San Gerardo de Dota is a charmer, well worth seeking out for a quiet couple days of fresh mountain air.