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Fodor's Costa Rica 2014
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve
Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve Review
Conquistadores named this area Cabo Blanco on account of its white earth and cliffs, but it was a more benevolent pair of foreigners—Nicolas Wessberg and his wife, Karen Mogensen, arriving here from Sweden in the 1950s—who made it a preserve (Reserva Natural Absoluta Cabo Blanco, in Spanish). Appalled by the first clear-cut in the Cabo Blanco area in 1960, the pioneering couple launched an international appeal to save the forest. In time their efforts led not only to the creation of the 12-square-km (4½-square-mile) reserve but also to the founding of Costa Rica's national park service, the National Conservation Areas System (SINAC). Wessberg was murdered on the Osa Peninsula in 1975 while researching the area's potential as a national park. A reserve just outside Montezuma was named in his honor. A reserve has also been created to honor his wife, who dedicated her life to conservation after her husband's death.
Informative natural-history captions dot the trails in the moist evergreen forest of Cabo Blanco. Look for the sapodilla trees, which produce a white latex used to make gum; you can often see V-shape scars where the trees have been cut to allow the latex to run into containers placed at the base. Wessberg cataloged a full array of animals here: porcupine, hog-nosed skunk, spotted skunk, gray fox, anteater, cougar, and jaguar. Resident birds include brown pelicans, white-throated magpies, toucans, cattle egrets, green herons, parrots, and blue-crowned motmots. A fairly strenuous 4-km (2½-mile) hike, which takes about two hours in each direction, follows a trail from the reserve entrance to Playa Cabo Blanco. The beach is magnificent, with hundreds of pelicans flying in formation and paddling in the calm waters offshore—you can wade right in and join them. Off the tip of the cape is the 698-square-meter (7,511-square-foot) Isla Cabo Blanco, with pelicans, frigate birds, brown boobies, and an abandoned lighthouse. As a strict reserve, Cabo Blanco is open only five days a week. It has restrooms and a visitor center but no other tourist facilities, and overnight camping is not permitted. Rangers and volunteers act as guides. This is one of the hottest parks in the country, so be sure to bring lots of water with you.
- Address: 10 km (6 miles) southwest of Montezuma via Cabuya, 60111
- Phone: 2642–0093
- Cost: $10
- Hours: Wed.–Sun. 8–4.
- Location: Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Preserve
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