Want to beat the Coastal Heat? Try San Gerardo de Dota

If the heat is getting to you, relief is right around the corner. Or up the hill.

San Gerardo de Dota is nestled into the foothills of the Talamanca mountain range, and its highland location means that it’s kissed by cool breezes and crossed by crystalline streams. Because the temperature in Costa Rica depends on elevation (and not the season), the higher you go, the cooler it gets.

Nights are crisp in San Gerardo de Dota, so you’ll want to bring a jacket or sweatshirt.

Activities in San Gerardo de Dota

Hiking is the best way to experience the intricacies of San Gerardo. The main activities include birdwatching, fishing and canopy tours. All are easy-access trails, and handrails and ropes are placed along the routes. You don’t need to be in great shape to walk them; just take your time, enjoy the surrounding nature, keep alert and you just might see a colorful quetzal fluttering nearby.

The Savegre River stands out. This crystal-clear, rushing river is crossed by several safe metal footbridges. You can fish the river, enjoy the curious rock formations – especially descending to the stone overlook (mirador de la piedra), which is a natural cave that looks out at a small waterfall and natural pool. You can finish your hike at one of the area’s biggest attractions, the waterfall (catarata).

For birdwatchers, San Gerardo is the place to be. In fact, birdwatchers are just another part of the landscape. We found them on trails, the highway, in hotels, looking for multicolored hummingbirds, emerald toucanets, tanagers and of course the famous quetzal among the 250 species that inhabit the region.

Nighttime can get chilly here, and some hotel rooms come equipped with heaters. It’s a nice change of pace after a week in the sweltering climes of the tropical lowlands, and spending a night watching the fog roll in as you’re snug in a blanket, in front of a fireplace, makes you wonder if you’re still in the tropics at all.

Where to Stay in San Gerardo de Dota

Trogon Lodge (starting at $98/night) and Savegre Hotel ($79/night) are two excellent options in the area.

How to Get to San Gerardo de Dota

San Gerardo de Dota is about a two-hour drive from San José and two and a half hours from the beach town of Dominical.

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