Dear Rainforest Friends,
It is finally here! This is the last blog in my series about the places to visit in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. The San Gerardo Field Station is a great place to see while in Monteverde, the second most frequented destination in all of Costa Rica (it closely follows La Fortuna, the home of the active Arenal Volcano).
The San Gerardo Field Station is similar to the Pocosol Field Station, although there is only one building and it is somewhat older (the new Pocosol Field Station was inaugurated in 2008). It is also located in a different habitat, so you will see very distinct wildlife if comparing to Pocosol. There are multiple trails available for hiking, most ranging from just under one kilometer to just over 2 kilometers. At the end of the Catarata trail, you will find a beautiful waterfall with a great water hole for swimming…the perfect place to cool off after a hike!
The San Gerardo Field Station has 8 bedrooms, two downstairs and six upstairs, that can house 4 guests in each one. Each room has two sets of bunk beds and one bathroom equipped with a toilet, sink and shower, and each guest receives their own towel, soap, pillow and bed clothes. There is a dining area downstairs with four large picnic tables, as well as a kitchen and classroom with a projector and screen available for lectures.
The upstairs balcony adjoining the rooms is a great place to relax, either in one of the four hammocks hanging from the rafters or in one of the many available chairs, and the view absolutely cannot be beat. The San Gerardo Field Station is situated in a small clearing in the CER, overlooking the majestic Arenal Volcano.
What You Get
Basically, the San Gerardo and Pocosol Field Station work in the same way. For a nightly fee, you receive all of your meals while at the station (made from scratch, and mostly traditional Costa Rican cuisine), complete access to the surrounding trails, a room (that you might possible have to share with other guests), and the attention of the two field station managers, Geovanny and Ivannia. Geovanny and Ivannia are Monteverde residents who do not speak English (although, Geovanny does want to learn and appreciates any practice he can get!), but despite any challenges with communication they are very concerned with the well-being of the field station guests. They go out of their way to make any visitor feel welcome and comfortable, and will even take groups on hikes through the trails surrounding the field station. As a matter of fact, Geovanny’s father was the former owner of the property the field station is currently on, so he knows the area like the back of his hand.
How to Get There
As compared to Pocosol, San Gerardo is a little easier to get to, in my opinion. The only way to reach the station is on foot, but getting to the trail head is surprisingly easy. From Santa Elena (Monteverde), take a taxi (or drive your rental car) to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve (cost: $8.00), and the trail head begins in their parking lot. The trail is technically a public road, but it is next to impossible for any vehicles to maneuver the thick, deep mud (the road was originally traveled by farmers and their families moving milk and other supplies up and down the hill with ox-drawn carts). So, the only feasible way down to the station is by walking there.
After about forty-five minutes to an hour of steep downhill hiking, the road leads to the private San Gerardo trail that eventually ends at the field station. You must hike this trail, also downhill, for about a half an hour, and the further you get the thicker the canopy becomes. Eventually the trail opens up into the clearing where the field station is situated, and where a hot cup of freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee awaits you in the dining area, made by the lovely Ivannia, of course.
The advantage to hiking to the station is that it is economical. You do not have to pay for private transport, although the hike out can be a little arduous. It is almost completely uphill, but if you take it bit by bit, it is manageable and even pleasant, especially if you stop to nature-watch along the way.
I recommend making reservations for the San Gerardo Station, and it is always good to do this about two months in advance. The rainy season is very heavy after the month of July, yet the rainforest is beautiful in any of its seasons. If you would like to avoid the heavy rain, though, the best time to visit would be between the months of March and June. They are also the busiest months, though, so reservations are key!
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your space at the San Gerardo Field Station.
For the Forest,