Private Forest Reserve

The Valley of San Gerardo de Dota

San Gerardo de Dota is one of the best places for birdwatching in Costa Rica, mainly because of the unspoiled forests and good access to these rare and threatened ecosystems: the Middle and Upper Montane Cloud Forest and the Paramó, but above all the many endemic species that can be found in this area. The climate is template at these high altitudes (the hotel is situated at 2600 meters asl), with an average annual rainfall ranging between 2.000 mm and 4.667 mm, and the temperature varying between 22°C at daytime dropping to 10°C at night. The dry season is from December through April, rainy season from May through November.


These cloud forests consist mainly of three different kinds of oak trees that can reach up to 50 m. in height. The forests have a wide variety of epiphyte plants, like bryophytes, orchids, lichens and ferns. Many species here are endemic. There are 979 types of plants, of which 119 are trees. There are very tall ones like the canopy trees (95% oaks) and short ones, like timber trees. You can find as well 14 kinds of laurel trees, with species like the aguacatillo (favorite food of the Resplendent Quetzal), 164 types of mosses and hepatics, 74 species of epiphyte plants and 148 kinds of ferns.

Dantica Cloud Forest Reserve

Here you will find yourself in the clouds, with parakeets and hawks flying above you, mixed bird flocks around you and trogons and quails below you. Our private reserve is bordering the Los Quetzales National Park, separated by the ´Ojo the agua´ mountain stream. Different primary forest types as well as stages of regenerating forest alternated with clearings make this area ideal for bird watching. Over 90% of the Dantica Cloud Forest Reserve consists of primary forest, where 5 kilometers of trails lead you to the lush and dense vegetation all the way down at the small river. We minimize the impact in our reserve; fallen trees are left on the ground to help the natural process of regeneration, only our guests are allowed in the forest and the main trails are lit only for a few hours at night, both in order not to disturb the fauna too much, among others.

The Birds

Over 170 bird species have been counted in this region, of which almost 120 species have been observed in our private Forest Reserve; most of them you can encounter just walking on the trails or sitting comfortable on your terrace overseeing the nearby canopy and the adjacent mountains.

The reason for many to visit the cloud forest or even Costa Rica is to see a glimpse of the Resplendent Quetzal, sacred bird of the Maya and Aztec cultures. You can find evidence of its cultural importance in examples like Quetzalcoatl, the feathered snake, one of the most important Maya Gods. Montezuma, emperor of the Aztecs, was using a crown made with quetzal tail-feathers when Cortés conquered his empire in Mexico. Its bright colors, an emerald green that changes into blue tones reflecting the sunlight, and its crimson red chest, together with its one meter large tail-feathers – who are in reality back-feathers – make it the most beautiful bird of the Americas and without doubt one of the most beautiful birds in the whole world. Despite its bright colors he melts way in the mystic cloud forest.

One legend tells about a battle between Mayan warriors and Spanish conquerors. The Spaniards retreated after winning the battle, to come back later to kill the wounded Mayas on the battlefield, a clearing in the forest. The quetzals, entirely green in those times, left the forest and landed on the wounded Mayas, covering them. The Spaniards found the clearing ´abandoned´ and left. After that, the quetzals flew back into the forest, with their chest red from the blood of the wounded Mayas, whose lives they just saved. Since that day, the quetzal has a red chest.

Nowadays, Quetzal is the name of the currency in Guatemala, and its image is found in Guatemala´s national shield on its flag. Not strange for a country, whose mainly indigenous population descents from the Mayas among others.

But the forest has a lot more to offer; red-tailed hawks, acorn woodpeckers and long-tailed silky flycatchers rest in the canopies of the old oaks, wood-quails walk in front of you on the trails, black guans and emerald toucanets move through the dense vegetation just above you and mixed flocks of tree-runners, flycatchers and redstarts surround you. And this all accompanied by the beautiful metallic sound of the black-faced solitaire.


A variety of mammals can be found here, with over 50 species in our private Reserve alone, although it is not that easy to see them because of the low density at higher altitudes. The diversity of species, especial the larger ones, is possible thanks to the interconnection of the many national parks and reserves in the region, ranging from the international La Amistad National Park from Panamá along the Talamanca mountain range to the Los Santos area, interconnecting a number of national parks and protected areas such as the La Amistad International Park, the Chirripó National Park, the Tapantí National Park, the Los Quetzales National Park and the Los Santos Forest Reserve. Since the foundation of the Los Quetzales National Park in 2006, with its ranger station only 9 km away from the hotel, hunting in the region has almost disappeared, allowing large mammal species to establish themselves again in the region. Now you might encounter species like the tapir, cougar, peccary, ocelot and deer in the forests and clearings. But you are more likely to see porcupines, squirrels, capuchin monkeys or tayras.

Have a look at the bird-checklist and mammal-checklist of our forest reserve.

“Wow!! Costa Rica has so much to offer and I must say the Dantica Lodge and surrounding area is by far one of the finest places I have visited in this beautiful country. I shall return here and take in the awesome beauty of the lodge and countryside!! What a beautiful place!!!” Dave Farrow. Phoenix, Arizona. Hotels in Costa Rica – Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge – San Gerardo de Dota – Bird Watching Paradise