Costa Rica // The Central Pacific and southern Nicoya //

Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco

RESERVA NATURAL ABSOLUTA CABO BLANCO, 9km south of Montezuma, is Costa Rica’s oldest protected piece of land, established in 1963 by Karen Mogensen, a Danish immigrant to Costa Rica, and her Swedish husband Olof Wessberg. Until 1989, no visitors were allowed into the twelve square kilometres of reserve, which covers nearly the entire southwestern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Though hard to believe today, most of the reserve was pasture and farmland until the early 1960s. Since its inauguration, Cabo Blanco has been allowed to regenerate naturally; a small area of original forest that had escaped destruction served as a “genetic bank” for the re-establishment of the complex tropical forest that now fills the reserve.

Pay your entrance fee at the ranger hut, and they’ll supply you with a trail map (there are only two), which also outlines the history of the reserve and the species living here; walking the trails here can be very hot work, so head out early. The Sendero Sueco (5km; 2hr) leads from the entrance through tropical deciduous forest to Playa Cabo Blanco, a lovely, lonely spot (in low season, anyway). Swimming, however, isn’t great around here; due to the high tide (marea alta), you’ll need to walk back along the trail rather than the coast. Ask the ranger at the entrance when and where you’ll likely get cut off if you want to venture along the beach.