Hotel de Montana El Pelicano provides a rustic lodge setting deep in the south-central region of Costa Rica. Located near Chirripo National Park, it provides a budget base camp for hiking groups seeking to climb Mount Chirripo, the highest mountain in the country at over 12,000 feet elevation. Birdwatching enthusiasts also flock to the area to seek out the unique upper montane inhabitants. In addition to 8 small basic rooms in the lodge building, the hotel offers 4 separate rustic cabinas that offer a little more privacy. Hotel amenities include two pools, one for adults and one for children, a BBQ picnic area, restaurant, and wifi.
Due to the high elevation, cooler temperatures envelop the area in both misty cloud and rainforest terrain. You’ll encounter tiny villages as you explore the pristine majesty of the Talamanca Mountains that spread from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast, dipping down into Panama. There are few direct roads, making it an approximate 3.5 hour drive due south of San Jose, while only 1.25 hour drive heading east from the southern Pacific beach town of Dominical. El Pelicano Hotel is located on a steep hill and up a steep driveway.
In the surrounding village of San Gerardo de Rivas, you’ll find knowledgeable local guides as well as a family-run cheese farm. The mountains generate a wonderland of waterfalls and rivers. Serious hikers must first get a permit to hike the 12 miles up to the summit of Mount Chirripo, where temperatures can dip below freezing. A thermal river feeds into a nearby hot spring. It’s easy to lose yourself in just the scenery of this remote wilderness area.
A local family runs the El Pelicano with all the warmth and kindness you’ll soon learn is an integral part of Costa Rican culture. The onsite Restaurant Dona Elsa, which has a fireplace, serves up tasty local and international fare and is open for all three daily meals. Breakfast is complimentary and vegetarian options are available. If you’re headed out early for an adventure, they’ll even pack you a breakfast to go. Prices are reasonable for lunch and dinner. All meals are made with fresh vegetables and herbs picked from the hotel’s organic garden.
Guests at El Pelicano often remark at the amount of birdlife seen just from the hotel grounds. Two swimming pools include one for adults and one for children. An art gallery featuring woodcarvings created by the owner’s father has an elegant display of his notable craft. A picnic area offers places to barbecue and picnic tables.
Eight very clean basic rooms are found in the main lodge building separated by a long hallway. Each room has its own private bath with hot water, wifi, and satellite TV. Four additional stand-alone cabinas offer a little more space with an outside porch. A whirlpool tub is found in the Cabin Suite. The separate cabinas all have a coffeemaker, small fridge, private bath with hot water, satellite TV, and come with a complimentary bottle of wine. All rooms include breakfast. It is noteworthy that this small rustic locally owned hotel has earned both the Blue Flag award and the Sustainable Tourism Certificate for positive management of local resources.