Traveling Around Peninsula de Osa: Part 2

Adventures on the Osa Peninsula continued…


The next day we went to Puerto Jimenez to do a tour of a sanctuary but first we went on a boat to look for dolphins in the peninsula.  We only could see one dolphin so that was a little bit sad because we had hoped to see more but you know…mother nature does not always do what you want it to do!  So anyway we enjoyed it because for me it’s always fun to be in the water on a speed boat or any kind of a boat!  After we searched for dolphins, they took us to the sanctuary to see the animals that they take care of there.  We arrived at the beach and met our guide and the founder of the sanctuary, Ms. Carol.  She was a really special lady that loves immensely all the animals.  They have  several different animals there…we first saw macaws that are not able to fly anymore, then a spider monkey call Sweetie who is the most friendly monkey in the world – she is always asking people to scratch her and she shows you where she wants to be scratched!  I never saw anything like that in my life, it was such a funny scene.  We also saw Kinkajous, a toromuco (sort of like a weasel) and some wild pigs.

Then we went to see the white face monkeys.  One of them looked a little crazy, kept rocking back and forth like something was wrong but it’s because of all the suffering caused by humans who held her in captivity in a box.  Next, we fed the sloths with some veggies and puppy chow – what they really love to eat.  It was one of my best experiences hanging out with animals.  They also have a lot of other different animals but the visitors who go to the Sanctuary are not allowed to see them in their cages because they want to keep them as wild as they can be so they cannot interact with humans.  Only the first ones that I wrote about can be around visitors because they cannot be released back into the wild again.  This is because they have various issues with them like diseases or having been held or born in captivity and  that makes it impossible for them live on their own and survive.  That’s why they are cared for at the sanctuary and Ms. Carol educates the public about why it’s so important to leave wild animals wild.

The next morning was horseback riding and we went to a place called Finca Bijagual to take the tour.  We started the tour by riding through the farm and alongside the mountain so it was like the real jungle we were passing by, eventually arriving at a virgin beach, where we saw a lot macaws on the trees.  We stopped at some natural tide pools on the rocks and rested for a little while.  It was really fun and wild to go horseback riding there.  I always love riding horses, anytime I can, it brings me so much joy.


So what I can say in general about my visit to Lapa Rios is that it is just phenomenal being there and to be able to see all these kinds of animals around and do all these tours without having to go far away.  The hotel is excellent quality and same for the people who work there.  The food you can get there is amazing, they have the most delicious desserts, all kinds of meats, ceviche cocktails, and a really tasty meal with gallo pinto, cheese, eggs, and whatever else you want –  the most typical breakfast in the area. What an amazing week it was at Lapa Rios…all of the awesome things we saw and did. Experiences that I never had before and look forward to having again.

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Traveling around Peninsula de Osa: Part 1

There was so much to do and see at Lapa Rios that I’m going to break this experience into two posts!  Here’s the first half of the exciting week that we spent there…

We started our trip from Manuel Antonio to the Osa Peninsula before noon.  Lapa Rios came to pick us up at Arenas del Mar in their Land Rover and our guide/driver, and now our good friend Roger, took us on the really long drive from the Central Coast to the Osa Peninsula.  Even with the long drive ahead of us, I was pretty excited to make this trip because it was my first time going to the South Pacific so I was really interested to do all this traveling by land and see it up close.

Playa Dominical

Playa Dominical

We first passed by Playa Dominical to check out the beach and the surfing culture in town.  It was my first time there so my first impression of the place was that it is a really small and quiet town in comparison to Tamarindo, but also with really good waves and a nice beach.  Definitely it’s a place where I would like to go and stay a few nights to know it better and see how it is like, and also for sure do some surfing in those fun waves. Chrissy tells me there is a new eco-hotel near there, Kurà, and I hope we can return soon to check it out!


So from Dominical to Osa we almost went all the way without doing any other stops but then we got into a traffic jam because they were fixing the road.  So we had to stop for like an hour which made the drive quite a bit longer.  Once we passed through the construction and arrived into Puerto Jimenez, we checked in at the main office where they offered us a delicious and refreshing coconut water (right from the coconut!) with a bamboo straw to drink it with.  From there, we went to see the big population of caimans that live in a small river close to the marina.  There were dozens of them in a really small space, as such you can see them fighting for the space.  We could see them pretty close actually and it got scary when one caiman took me by surprise and moved really fast from where he was and really close to where we were standing!  It really was like a NAT GEO scene watching these caimans chase each other; it was a big experience for me definitely. (watch Chrissy’s video on the RCE Facebook page)


Continuing our way to the hotel we got onto a dirt road in between the mountains and the Gulf.  And that’s where you feel like you are seriously going to be in the middle of nowhere…which is part of the adventure that they want to give you at Lapa Rios, the escape from reality. So driving along this road, the first wildlife that we saw were the macaws eating on some palm trees.  There were a lot of them so we stopped the car to shoot them because it was just spectacular to see them all flying and squawking around.


Next we drove through several rivers to finally arrive at the hotel. When we got there, Marijke (Lapa Rios’ General Manager) was there waiting for us with all the Lapa Rios team, welcoming us with a cold and delicious drink which I’m learning is a common (and very nice) trait at each of the Cayuga hotels.  She took us on a tour of the property and I saw how it was a really natural place – definitely in the jungle.  There were millions of things to see and watch all the time there!

For our first morning, we went on the starfish tour.  We saw lots of different species of star fish that are around the area.  We even could touch them because they are really docile water animals.  It was a fun tour because we also started to interact with some of the guests that were staying at the hotel.

After the tour, we went to hang out at the pool and it’s amazing all that you can see just being there.  It is like the animals just appear and come to you, but then I realized that happens in every space around the ecolodge, even from your room when you wake up, you will easily see all kinds of monkeys, birds and insects.  It really made it the most wild experience ever in my life.

The next morning was the birdwatching tour.  I realized during the tour that I actually found it more interesting than what I thought it was going to be like at the beginning.  I enjoyed it a lot –  watching all the hundreds of species of birds, especially the most beautiful ones like the macaws and toucans, all kinds of falcons and hawks, even the spider, squirrel and howler monkeys that we saw during the walk.


Then that night we went for the night walk around the property by some paths that they made around the jungle.  The walk is really exciting because it is at night time so it makes it really wild and interesting to imagine at the beginning what kind of animals you will come across.  I really enjoyed it even though we didn’t see a lot of things that night.  We did see a yellow bird sleeping under some leaves, then we saw some frogs in a little artificial swamp that the Lapa Rios guides built to make them come and stay there, so there would be lots around the property to study and show to the guests.  We even saw some frog eggs hanging on a leaf which looked really cool and we took some good pictures of it.  After that, other things that we saw were a Kinkajou, some small snakes, a funny mouse sitting on a branch, one young tarantula that was in its cave and lot of different insects.  I think this is the best hike around the area you can try!

The following day we did the Waterfalls hike and you mostly walk through the jungle to a river passing by several really cool waterfalls where you can even take a swim and jump into one of them which was really fun to do.  The water is so clean and fresh that you will want to stay there for awhile.


To be continued…

Enjoy the slideshow

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Horseback Riding at Finca Bijagual and a visit to the Cana Blanca Animal Sanctuary

horseback riding 1Two other activities that I did while at Lapa Rios was horseback riding at Bijagual Farm and a visit to the Cana Blanca Animal Sanctuary.  I’ve been to both in the past – Bijagual last year when I milked a cow (read more about that here) and Cana Blanca in 2009.

We started our horseback riding at the farm and traversed several meadows and forested areas.  We even passed by a “lemon” tree – which once again was a lime tree that they tried to tell me was a lemon tree.  Eventually we ended up at a tranquil, deserted black sand beach.   The only sounds we heard there were the waves crashing and the squawk of the scarlet macaws.  My horse was much more well-behaved than the last time in Santa Teresa.  The only thing he did wrong was decide to gallop when Kevin’s horse would gallop.  And the problem with that was I was never prepared.  Going at a relatively slow pace, I didn’t need to hold on too tight – until of course the horse starts to run and I’m in the middle of taking a photo so I’m not really holding onto anything.    We eventually gave the horses, and our bodies, a break near a few tide pools, taking a moment to stretch our legs and check out the sealife, breathing in the warm salty air.

horseback riding 2

Tranquilo is how you’d describe this pristine area.  Untouched land with palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze while the fierce waves crash onto shore.  Not a house or other building in sight.

The one thing I recommend though is wearing long pants.  Just like socks, I don’t have any of those here but I do have a few capris which suffice for horseback riding.  Unfortunately, while packing and trying to stay under the 15 pound weight restriction for the puddle jumper, both pairs were somehow left out of my luggage.  Horseback riding in shorts…not so much fun, especially when you’re in such a wild, unmaintained area.  But it’s all just a part of the experience and lesson learned.

My visit to Cana Blanca was once again a mix of emotions.  I love that the Sanctuary is there to help these animals who have been orphaned, injured or held in captivity (and then the owners decide they no longer want them).  But it’s also so sad that so many of them can never be released into their wild habitats again.  It’s a horrible dilemma to consider – do you release them, knowing they can’t survive in the wild?  Do you put them to sleep because keeping them in a cage (albeit large cages) is not natural for them?  Or do you create the sanctuary where they can be cared for and loved but in a cage for their entire life?

spider monkey

But there was some good news – the macaws (that are considered endangered) are breeding and their babies are being released into the wild.  When I was there last time, there was a white-faced monkey who had been kept in a box by her owners.  She was mentally distraught when she arrived at the Sanctuary and had to be kept separate from the other monkeys.  Now, she is  out in the open (in the large monkey cage) although she still would rock back and forth and suck on her hands, similar to actions of an abused child.  And the baby sloths from three years ago are growing up and so so SO cute.


sloth 1

Carol, the founder of the Sanctuary, loves these animals.  You can tell she would do anything for them.  The Sanctuary is a special place.  Both travel partners that I’ve taken there were really touched by it – it’s a place where you can get up close to these beautiful animals and understand how and why not only they need to be protected but their natural environments as well.

Pura vida…Chrissy

Note: While I am now paid and/or receive comped services at many of the places I visit, I will always offer my unbiased opinion to you, my readers. Fortunately, I almost always have experiences that exceed my expectations.


I’ve been offline for the last week or so…I know, it’s contrary to my last post about staying connected.  But there are times when it’s nice to completely disconnect from all the “screens and gadgets” and reconnect with actual people.  For the last week I was at Lapa Rios, a remote eco lodge on the Osa Peninsula.  No telephones, no cell service, no email, internet, facebook, texting, instant messaging…Nada. (well, okay, I admit a few times I was able to get an internet signal through my phone service and checked facebook…but it’s for my job!).

But for the most part, it was just me and a friend, hanging out in a tropical rainforest with beautiful views of the green, lush jungle, the Golfo Dulce and the Pacific Ocean.  At any given moment, wildlife could be found.

We saw dolphins in the Golfo Dulce, visited the Cana Blanca Animal Sanctuary, went horseback riding, played in waterfalls. We hiked around the property, both during the day and at night (really cool animal sightings at night – the jungle truly becomes alive).  Drifting off to sleep at night, we’d hear the sounds of thunder, tink frogs and crickets which was followed by waking up to a 5:00 a.m. sunrise with the howlers and birds.  Thank goodness for their early morning coffee delivery service to our bungalow!

But before going to Lapa Rios, we went to Arenas del Mar, a beachfront, rainforest resort in Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast.  Two completely different experiences but both so worth having.  At Arenas del Mar, you’re situated in a resort where the beach is in front of you and the rainforest can be found above, behind and all around you.  But it’s a new resort, opened exactly 5 years ago (we were there to celebrate the Anniversary), so it has all the technological amenities you would expect to find in a new hotel.  We went hiking to waterfalls, saw monkeys falling from the sky (well, okay, they were jumping from our roof to the trees) and I once again faced my fear of heights on the hanging bridges and zipline tour.  I even swung like a pendulum (AKA Tarzan Swing) across two platforms about 120 feet above the ground and rappelled down two long ropes.

After Lapa Rios, we went to Hacienda Tayutic.  A new place for me – out in the central valley near Turrialba Volcano, about 2 hours east of San Jose. Located on top of a mountain with beautiful views of the valley below, it is a place to be treasured.  To completely relax and let go.  I learned how they make brown sugar and got to take a fresh bag home with me – my neighbors will be so excited to hear this as they know what will be made with it…chocolate chip cookies!  I also finally got to see the red berries of the coffee bushes – always I’ve only seen the white flowers and the green, unripe berries.  But it’s finally harvest season here and the red berries were all brightly shining against the green leaves of the coffee plant.  The Inn also produces macadamia nuts so I might just be making some chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies in the very near future as well!

Unfortunately, it rained every day we were there but we still worked in a few fun activities.  And while I was told the active Turrialba volcano was in front of the Hacienda, the fog and clouds never subsided so I never got to see it.  Next time though…

While not actually a vacation as all of the above was technically work, it was an amazing trip and so great to have found a new travel partner.

More stories from these trips to come in the future.  For now, enjoy the slideshow of incredible wildlife and beautiful scenery.

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Pura vida…Chrissy

Note: While I am now paid and/or receive comped services at many of the places I visit, I will always offer my unbiased opinion to you, my readers.  Fortunately, I almost always have experiences that exceed my expectations.