The Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica is home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity! One of the few regions in which development has been slow in efforts to protect as much of the natural the country has to offer. This property sits on 1,000 acres of rain forest protected by the government and locals alike.
Lapa Rios is a founding member of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. This labor of love started out as an attempt to protect the area and developed into so much more. The vision was to teach the locals to preserve and protect their precious environment and grew into an experience like no other.
We started in San Jose with an overnight stay before flying out the following day to Puerto Jimenez. This short flight give us the opportunity to see the country from above and it was spectacular. The flights are short on small Cessna’s usually no more than 15 passengers. Upon arrival we were met with a cold drink (in a coconut) and the chance to use the facilities before taking a land transfer over bumpy, unpaved roads, to the lodge. Anyone looking for a true Eco Lodge experience will not be disappointed.
The property is perched on a mountainside boasting breathtaking ocean and jungle views. There are 17 bungalows that are accessed by a looooooong wooden walkway surrounded by flora and fauna, we watched sloths and monkeys watching us. This is a steep incline and can be a challenge when returning to the main lodge. There are 2 bungalows that are just outside the front desk area at the top of the hill which is perfectly located for anyone with mobility issues still wanting the experience.
We requested coffee be delivered in the mornings to avoid the long and steep climb back up to the main building and it was delivered and hung outside our door with no interruption to us. We sat on our huge private deck overlooking the ocean below us, enjoying the sounds of the birds and the multiple monkeys jumping from branch to branch. The outdoor shower was magnificent and lounge chairs invite you to stay as long as you want. Inside the bungalow you will find 2 queen beds or a king, full private bath with indoor shower, hot & cold running water and mosquito netting over the bed. The multiple windows are all screened in and can be covered at night to avoid early morning sunshine. The early morning howler monkeys are unavoidable.
Every meal was delicious, we enjoyed seafood caught locally, vegetables grown in the lodges own garden and cocktails prepared on the deck outside the restaurant. After a vigorous hike to a local waterfall there is a cool pool to swim in and enjoy the view below. One afternoon we had a family of Scarlett macaws fly over us as we swam, absolutely magical.
The beauty of this particular property, besides the setting, is it’s people/staff. What the original owner’s did was so brilliant, they encourages locals to come and work at the hotel. There are currently 2 generations of employees on site that work front desk, Food & Beverage, management and Guiding. One of their very first employees planted the majority of their secondary forest and can point out each and every tree he planted since 1993, it’s truly remarkable.
Locals would hunt for sport and they have learned to protect their beautiful wildlife encouraging others to do the same which has resulted in an increase in Puma sightings. It’s also a birders paradise with over 300 species on the property alone.
There is access to a local beach for those wanting to swim or fish and during whale migration season boat tours can be taken to watch the whales, dolphin and sea turtles are in the area year-round.
No visit to Lapa is complete however without participating in the Twigs, Pigs & Garbage: Sustainability tour. This unique “behind the house” tour gives you an insight into the commitment to a greener and more sustainable way of life. From renewable building materials to the biogas produced by their pigs,
To have spent time at Lapa Rios is to have been fortunate to experience an environment thriving because of its people conserving the beauty that surrounds them instead of exploiting it, it’s top of the list for anyone searching for inspiration.