We left downtown San José very early and prepared to face the famous cold climate of Cerro de la Muerte on the way, so we all had our coats at hand. As we advanced along the way, we appreciated the landscapes around us, the towers of the Los Santos wind farm, then we made the necessary stop to enjoy a good breakfast and continued the trip to San Gerardo.
Getting away from the daily hustle and bustle
Dota is the 17th canton of the San José province and together with León Cortés and Tarrazú they form the well-known “Zona de los Santos”. It has an area of around 400 km2 which makes it the fourth largest canton of Josefino and is divided into 3 districts: Santa María (head), Jardín and Copey.
If you want to escape from the “run, run daily”, San Gerardo de Dota is one of the best places for you to do it. It is a place full of natural beauty and hardworking people, where you can watch birds, enjoy rivers of transparent water and waterfalls, trout fishing, hiking in the cloud forest, visit Los Quetzales National Park … you can do a lot of activities. San Gerardo is a community located at 2200 m.a.s.l. and very close to Los Quetzales National Park, practically hidden along the Savegre River Valley.
The quetzal, for its exotic beauty, is one of the most striking birds in the world. It is possible to admire them in San Gerardo since the cloud forest is their ideal habitat and in this area their main food also grows, the “Aguacatillo” tree. Their breeding season is between the months of April and May, so in that season it will be easier for you to see.
Hiking in the mountains
If you are a lover of this activity, there are different routes through the forest where you can admire the various ecosystems present in this region of the country. You will find beautiful places to take pictures and to sit and enjoy the sounds of nature. Don’t forget to bring something to keep you warm and to protect you from the rain, because generally the weather stays around 13C – 18C, depending on the time of year you go. Bring something to eat and to hydrate yourself, but remember not to leave any garbage.
Rio Savegre: trout fishing
This community extends to a large extent on the banks of the Savegre River, whose flow is clear water and is usually kept at a cold temperature. In various sections of its extension you can see waterfalls and caves.
If fishing entertains you, in this river you will get some delicious trout. Keep in mind that the fly fishing season is from May to June and with lures it is from December to March. Most restaurants in the area have dishes with this fish on their menus, in different presentations. You will enjoy trying each recipe!
Los Quetzales National Park
Los Quetzales National Park was created in 2005 and covers an area of 12,355 acres. It has 3 types of forest and about 14 different ecosystems. In its trees it is possible to see a large number of bird species, such as quetzals, tanagers, the trogon and hummingbirds.
Savegre River Falls
The ride up to the falls is beautiful. The landscape invites you to stop and contemplate it in detail and even take photos. From the Posada de Turismo Rural Sueños del Bosque Lodge (which was where we stayed) to the entrance to the trail are about 500 m above the street. On the left you will see the entrance, after passing a bridge you will come across a trout farm and on one side is the path that will take you directly to the first waterfall. After about 40hem in this area of the country.
minutes of walking you will see huge stones in front of you … a perfect place to take some pictures!
A little further on the trail you will see a small footbridge that goes over the waterfall. You can stand on it and see the water fall. If you continue walking (it is optional, because from here the path is not in excellent condition) and you go down the steps, you will be able to reach the cave made by huge stones below the waterfall. Before entering, we recommend that you be extremely careful and assess the flow of the river, so as not to put yourself at risk of a head of water filling the cave.
If you continue the trail, you will see a landscape taken from fantasy books of goblins and fairies. It is visible that not many people come here, because everything looks very green and whole. There is a suspension bridge that goes over the river and it is quite an experience to cross it. We go further into the mountain and after going up and down a series of steps, we face an imposing waterfall. Here the weather gets colder, so bathing here is not recommended, besides it has dangerous currents. It has a really small space (viewpoint) to admire it, but it is worth the effort to get there. Is beautiful!
Do you want to live this adventure yourself? How to get there?
The town of San Gerardo de Dota is settled along the foothills of the Cordillera de Talamanca and to get there from San José Centro, you travel about 78.9 km along the South Interamerican Highway until you reach the neighboring street in the soda San Gerardo (you will see it on your right hand side), where you must turn off to start descending the mountain (literally). We stayed at Sueños del Bosque Lodge, so we advanced about 9.2 km on that road.
What to bring
Sunscreen, coat, raincoat, hat, easy-drying clothing, shoes suitable for the mountains, bathing suit, washcloth, snack and something to hydrate yourself.
Difficulty: Medium – High (it depends on how far you want to go, some sections of the trail are damaged).
Distance: 4 km (round trip).
Parking: No. You can park on the street or leave the car in the lodging of your choice.