Durika Biological Reserve
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Founded in 1989 as Finca Anael, the Reserva Biológica Durika is a 700-hectare farm reserve (tel./fax 506/2730-0657, www.durika.org) operated by the Fundación Durika, an outgrowth of a self-sufficient agricultural community of 100 or so members who work on behalf of conservation, protecting and reforesting a mountain reserve encompassing various forest types, including cloud forest.
The community operates an authentic ecotourism project that welcomes visitors. A guide is assigned to you.
Besides the opportunity to milk the goats, make yogurt and cheese, try your hand at carpentry, and participate in organic farming, you can attend classes in martial arts, meditation, and art. Guided hikes, including one to an indigenous village, plus a five-day camping trip to the summit of Cerro Durika, are available.
Hotels and Restaurants
Albergue de Montaña Ángeles de Paraíso (tel. 506/2730-0034, $5 pp camping, $8 pp dorm), on the southern edge of Ujarrás, is a delightful spot with a basic backpackers’ dorm with shared outside toilets. Three small swimming pools were a bit grungy at last visit. Set amid a fruit orchard, it has a soccer pitch, thatched shade areas with hammocks, and a rustic restaurant serving local fare. Two cabins were to be added.
Durika Biological Reserve (tel./fax 506/2730-0657, www.durika.org, $12 pp dorm, $45 s or $75 d cabins) has a basic dorm hut, but you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag. It also has nine simple, candlelit cabins with fantastic views; all with private bathrooms. Rates include transfers and vegetarian meals.
Getting to Durika Biological Reserve
To get to the Durika Biological Reserve from Buenos Aires, follow the Ujarrás signs to Rancho Cabecar restaurant, then take the right at the Y-fork (Durika is signed) and continue uphill 15 kilometers until you see the entrance for the farm.
Note: This drive is not for the faint-hearted!
The first 12 or so kilometers are a breeze, then suddenly the narrow, rocky, muddy track plunges into a canyon and begins a long, dauntingly steep, snaking ascent that requires you to floor the gas at all times, come what may! It could well be the single most challenging drive in the nation.
Jeep-taxis operate from Buenos Aires. Buses depart Buenos Aires for Potrero Grande at 6:30 A.M. and noon daily. Buses also serve Ujarrás from Buenos Aires.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition