One of the most interesting adventures we had in Costa Rica was experiencing the University of Georgia’s research facility and eco-lodge in San Luis, which is just a short “as the crow flies” distance from Monteverde.
Check-in wasn’t until noon. We’d gotten an early start, and the public bus didn’t come for 45 more minutes. We’d walked to the Quaker meeting the day before, and according to Google Maps, the eco-lodge was just kilometers beyond. How bad could it be?
We started walking to the UGA San Luis Eco-Lodge.
The sun was shining – and the wind blowing – at 25 miles an hour – with gusts much higher.
The views were stunning.
What we couldn’t tell from Google is the walk included several kilometers of a very, very steep grade down toward San Luis – at about 25%. It’s so steep that trucks and buses are prohibited.
Much of the road to San Luis is not paved.
At times, I thought I’d be blown over the edge by the gusts of wind. Barry was backpacking all our stuff, and before we got to San Luis, he said it felt like about 100 pounds.
However, the walk was beautiful. And we did make it, but what we thought would be about a one-and a-half-hour walk turned into about three hours.
We did arrive about 15 minutes before lunch. Perfect.
And we had a great lunch – a buffet. I ate two full plates!
And then we got to go with naturalist Dan, an enthusiastic, knowledgeable intern, on a three-hour hike/lecture to the Eco-Lodge farm and through a forest.
Along the way, we saw three white-faced capuchin monkeys, a coati, and an agouti – a big rodent that is the favorite meal of pumas, and, of course, we saw many colorful birds.
We saw cool birds, animals, bugs, interesting trees and plants. You would love it there.
At the farm, we saw innovative practices to promote sustainability. One of their composting strategies is using black plastic tarps, which we are trying at home.
Before dinner, we went up and sat on the great deck in wooden rocking chairs, drank delicious Costa Rican coffee, and chatted with other tourists and University of Georgia interns and staff.
Again, I got two full plates for dinner. We’d heard the hot chocolate served after dinner was stupendous; it was.
Then we had an interesting lecture about the history of Costa Rica. We could have chosen a night hike looking for frogs and snakes, but we’d had enough of hiking for the day. I was asleep by about 9 that night.
The next morning, we went at 6:20 to milk cows and see the biodigester that converts all the waste materials into cooking fuel.
We had a medicinal plants lecture and field trip after breakfast.
Among many other facts, we learned from Dan that guava is good for hangovers; coffee is anti-Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases; dumb cane is for toothaches; catnip is like cocaine for cats, but as a tea, is calming for people; papaya is a good meat tenderizer; yellow oleander is very poisonous; the root beer plant is for headaches – put a leaf on your forehead . . . The reason aloe is good for sunburns is because it holds in moisture which allows the skin to heal. The sap from the dragon-blood tree is anti-fungal and an antiseptic. . .
After lunch, we got an an introduction to bird watching. Costa Rica has 850 species of birds; 250 species are in San Luis near the eco-lodge – beautiful and diverse!
After dinner, I took a night hike seeking mammals. Because it was windy and rainy, we mainly found spiders, moths, leaf-cutters, and other small beings. Again we slept well in our beautiful and comfortable bungalow.
The next morning, we went out at dawn for bird-watching with a naturalist.
Generally, we did lots of activities – and then we’d eat again.
Actually, there was much more!
But you get the idea: you will learn about plants, animals, bugs, sustainability, Costa Rica, coffee, history, and more from enthusiastic and knowledgeable interns and naturalists, meet other travelers, eat well, enjoy hot water and a new, clean bungalow, and have an eventful and wonderful time at the beautiful Ecolodge San Luis.
For more information and to reserve your visit, go to the website: https://dar.uga.edu/costa_rica/index.php/tourists/-/tourists
You will love the experience.
Pura vida, Renée
P.S. To leave the eco-lodge, did we walk back up the steep road? No! We took a cab. 🙂