Costa Rica’s hidden rainforest paradise seduced me with its tiny pockets of remoteness, its tropical beaches, abundant wildlife and friendly locals. It is said that Costa Rica is more than a vacation destination….it’s an interactive sensory experience filled with stunning wildlife. Nothing depicts this more than what is hidden and found in the paradise of the Osa Peninsula and its crown jewel, Corcovado National Park. It is here where nature is at its’ best, for it encompasses the only remaining old-growth wet forest on the Pacific coast of Central America. Within this Southern-most area lies an exquisite land of “Pura Vida” (pure life). Walk the remote stunning beaches and get immersed into authentic nature-inspired experiences of a lifetime. Within this protected refuge, undeveloped, non-commercialized coastline is a place that should be on everyone’s must-do bucket list. It is here where I journeyed into my very own Robinson Crusoe adventure (with husband eagerly in-tow), deep within a lush rainforest encompassing more than 100,000-acres. It’s a place that looks lost in time, yet within it one finds a pure natural habitat, unlike any other.
We boarded our early morning SANSA flight from San Jose city to Puerto Jimenez, a small charming town in the Osa Peninsula located on the Golfo Dulce near Corcovado. Upon arrival we were escorted by 4WD to the sustainably serene Lapa Rios Eco Lodge (a National Geographic Unique Eco-Lodge), set amongst its own rewarding tropical rainforest that’s perched 350-feet above sea level with stunning vistas. We sipped a refreshing fresh-squeezed fruit cocktail while we swayed to the cooling Pacific breezes in our hammock that was perfectly placed on the porch of our stilted-thatched-roof bungalow in this incredible eden. The remainder of the afternoon, we explored the three nearby beaches that the guests have access to, where we watched dolphins play in the distance. The evening was filled with star-gazing the starry-lit skies through the lodge’s telescope, a few delicious rum punches followed a lovely dinner, and then it was off to a slumber sleep with sounds of the rainforest lullabying us numb to the world around us. We awakened the following morning by nature’s alarm clock, that of a gang of rambunctious howler monkeys who had come into the area. After a seriously local breakfast of rice, black beans, scrambled eggs, tortillas, plantains, orange juice and cafe con leche, we were eager to go on our birding hike where we hoped to see the stunning scarlet macaw parrots. Geared up with walking sticks and binoculars around our necks, we hiked through a virgin rainforest to pristine waterfalls along the Carbonara River. We certainly encountered several other of the 319-bird species found inhabiting this peninsula…..but sadly, not the macaws. These stunning birds’ habitat is now fragmented due to the destruction of their natural habitat in most regions. Yet many can still be sighted in tiny populations scattered throughout this specific area of Costa Rica. As we continued to follow our local guide through the primary rainforest, we began our medicine trail tour, learning the traditional medicinal uses of the indigenous plants and seeds. Another evening was spent lazily rejuvenating in our little bungalow at Lapa Rios Lodge as we watched the sun dip into the Pacific, setting the skies on fire in shades of hot pink, orange, yellow and purple.
The following morning, our adventures took us onward deep into one of the world’s wildest and most biologically intense place on Earth…Corcovado National Park. We flew in a tiny Cessna to Drake Bay, where we were then met by a park ranger and continued the journey to Carate by 4WD. To capture the essence of this jewel-of-a-jungle beach oasis surrounded by rainforest and surf, it’s best to explore this international nature treasure with an expert guide that’s familiar with the trails and terrain. Home to monkeys, pumas, toucans, tree frogs and thousands of other creatures, we set off amongst its vast terrain on-foot with Eduardo, our naturalist guide for the entire day. The diversity found within this immense park is not surpassed by any region of similar size anywhere on earth. The deeper we immersed ourselves into the beautiful untouched lush jungle canopy breaming with extensive wildlife, we lost all sense of time. We found ourselves surrounded by squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, and white-faced capuchin monkeys playing amongst abundant vines and dazzling blue morphs butterflies fluttering above us all at once. After four hours of intense hiking, we finally stumbled upon a deserted 23-mile golden sand beach lined with coconut palms. As we sat on the cool sand resting our weary feet, we sipped water and suddenly heard loud screeches coming from around the jungle-evaded point of the beach. Scarlet macaws make very loud, high-pitched throaty squawks, squeaks and screams designed to travel many miles to call for the feathered-friends in their group. With immense excitement, we walked a couple of feet and as we turned the corner, there they were! Magnificent Macaws, the largest parrots of the world (from beak to tail they can be as long as 33-inches), were attractively attached to the clay licks found along the cliffs of this remote Corcovado beach. Usually a typical sighting is of a single bird or a pair or two flying above the forest canopy, yet there were dozens of these extraordinary colorful birds right before our eyes. Their plumage so stunning, in shades of bright scarlet, rumps and tail feathers in shades of light blue, brilliant blue and yellow, and comical faces of creamy white, their behaviors are just as striking. It’s no wonder one is awestruck by their beauty, especially when encountered at such a close proximity. Macaws mate for life, nesting from January through April in the holes of the dead canopy trees found here within this unique forest-refuge. Being that they are one of the most intelligent bird species on the planet, their curiosity is always at peak. They can be extremely demanding and cranky at times, quite similar to having the intelligence of an 8-year old child with the emotional intelligence of a 2-year old when they begin to throw temper tantrums if not given the proper attention they demand. Sunset was quickly approaching, as we left this magical setting, to hike back towards our awaiting transportation. As we flew back to the other side of paradise, we left with fulfilled hearts and spirits. There’s certainly a profound reason why Costa Ricans possess that “Pura Vida” attitude. It’s having lived within a country with an instinctual understanding that one belongs there only secondary to what came first….Mother Nature. This religion or highly-in-tuned instinct of sorts evokes feelings of content and unity with the natural world around them. In turn, they’ve adapted along with their rainforest friends, having learned an important rule of life – co-existing in harmony together makes for one beautiful place…a genuine wonder of nature.