|Hiking & Trekking
The Talamanca mountains and Tinamaste massif are a top spot to enjoy all San Gerardo de Dota & San Gerardo de Rivas offer.
San Gerardo de Dota and San Gerardo de Rivas are neighbors on opposite sides of the pan American highway in the south central Talamanca mountains near San Isidro. They are both tiny communities that serve as a base of operations for exploring the mountains, cloud forest, paramo and rivers surrounding them.
Mountains & Trails – Oak & Cloud Forest
These mountains are impressive. Rising from sea level to over 12,000 feet they are roughly twice the size of the Rocky Mountains which top out slightly higher but get a head start climbing from the great plains at 6,000 feet.
There are a dozen different ecozones from the bottom to the top and you can explore them on foot or by road. At San Gerardo de Rivas a trail leads into Chirripó National Park and above San Gerardo de Dota the Pan American highway takes you to 11,000 feet.
One of the most surprising and impressive high elevation habitats are the giant oak (roble) forests. It’s quite odd the first time someone from the northeastern U.S., Canada or Europe starts in the tropical rainforest and climbs a ridge line to find familiar oak leaves and acorns littering the ground. Without these obvious clues you might never recognize these giants as oak trees because their crowns are crowded with epiphytes and trailing mosses and lichens.
Quetzal National Park adjacent to the Savegre river valley is named after its most famous resident the resplendent quetzal and the region is home to one of the biggest populations in Central America.
San Gerardo de Dota is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see quetzals but we recommend heading out on the trails on your own or in a private guided bird walk rather than one of the “quetzal tours” which are suffering from crowding. Besides the amazing three foot long metalic green tailed quetzal the high mountains are home to hummingbirds, other trogons, and dozens of endemic Talamancan species.
A new Savegre National Park is planned to include even more montane tropical bird habitat after 2020.
What is Not around San Gerardo de Dota & Chirripó
When choosing destinations it can help to know what you won’t find in a region and one thing you’re not going to find here are crowds. The San Gerardos both make it to the top ten must see list for Costa Rica because they’re incredible spots that we really like personally not because they are popular. For other helpful tips about what’s not around San Gerardo or Chirripó click here to read more.