Right in front of Puerto Jimenez, on the other side of the Dulce gulf, you'll reach after a 30 minutes boat ride a little sanctuary of locals animals. They are rescued and cared for at the always growing habitation, that was at first only a retreat for a couple in need of respite. But after allowing an ara macaw couple to nest in their library, there was no stoping them in what they will do to help out surrounding wildlife... And they now house all kind of monkeys, sloths, anteater, cats, birds and parrots. They are held in cage or on leash or they roamon free, depending on what's best for them at that time. I loved coming up close to them, sometimes even petting them, and learning about them with our volonteer guide.
The tour is free, but they appreciate any donations you can offer them.
"Fondacion Santuario Silvestre de Osa is a Costa Rican nonprofit membership organisation wholly committed to providing rescue, sanctuary, and rehabilitation for orphaned, injured, or displaced wildlife indigenous to the Southern zone. Santuario Silvestre Wildlife sanctuary is solely supported by private donations".
Please see the pictures.
About 5km south of Puerto Jimenez, we can reach gorgeous beach on the ocean with big waves, grey sand, hut, palm trees and if you need it, a few lodges... Playa Precioso is straight in front when you reach the ocean from the road. Plantanares is on the left, with shades from huts and trees from the lodge. This is where we went, at the Pearl of the Osa.
We spent the day swimming in the ocean and lounging on the beach. A great big white dog from the lodge, Chester, came by... And an hour before our driver pick us up, we tried the terrace of the lodge. The best milkshake I ever had (mango en leche). And the best Patacones (fried banana plantains, like thick soft chips) with 3 types of salsa. Wow, this was good!
Apparently, they put up a program through Reserva Nacionale Preciosa Platanares to protect the beach visited by turtles...
Half way to Carate, there's Matapalo. A craggy dirt road leaving the main road to reach Cabo Matapalo, a point on the Pacific ocean. It's difficult to describe... a vicinity of hidden cabinas, little farms and luxurious lodges in the obvious green forest... we had more the feeling of walking through a park, but discover from time to time a small habitation hidden in the jungle. And then a little path leaving toward a desert beach on the Pacific.
We were hapilly suprise by this place. There was blue butterflies Morpho everywhere. Agouti, Coati, Toucans, Pavons, Parrots, Vultures, and all four types of monkeys in Costa Rica! We saw within a few hours the Capuchin, spider monkey, howler monkey and squirrel monkey!
And on the end of the trail, a gorgeous little waterfall. we got confused and ask directions to a local farmer. He was more than happy to show us around and personally took up a steep road to admire the scenery on the ocean and go down a mud wall to reach the waterfall. A very pleasant encounter!! We bathe in the fresh water, have a mango and then follow the river down toward the trail or the ocean... One of the great experience I had in the Peninsula!! I hope I could afford soon a stay in one of the lodges of Matapalo.
A jewel, a deep luxuriant forest hidding unimaginable wildlife.
A never ending desert beach disapearing in a mysterious mist on the horizon.
The feeling you're alone, surrounded by something so big, so marvellous, so pure.
With barely a path to follow, crossing numerous rivers and following the line of the beach for the most part, we penetrate a deep forest, like a kid in a candy store. At first: trees, noises, butterflies... Then lizards, flowers, fruits... And then pavon, coati, agouti... Ddiscovering the park layer by layer, depending on how much care you want to put into it. I'll let you have your own experience once you reach it...
We were only staying a day, going back to Puerto Jimenez that night. So we carefully calculated our timetable. We reached the perfect picnic spot at around noon, a big fallen tree near a fresh water river, in front of a pelican fishing bay on the ocean. From there, we walked back toward Carate.
But you can also stay in the park for the night. Or more. You'll need to make a reservation with the rangers (through Minae or a tour operator in Puerto Jimenez). And make arrangements for food and sleep. At Minae, you can find out if they can accomodate you at the Sirena station. They have beds and they can cook meals, but depending on the demands, they can sometime refuse or be full... you need to bring your food and rent a tent in town. Many tour operators offer this service. You can also hire a guide in town.
It's an extenuous trek, the climate is very hot, very humid. You have to carry a lot of water with you. But it's such a great experience. I would do it again in a heart beat. As a matter of fact, My plans are to go back, stay in Carate and sleep a night or two in Sirena... it's the best place to observe wildlife.
We reached Carate by pick-up (the collectivo leaving Puerto Jimenez at 6h am) at 8h am. 7$ each way, per person. From there, we walked on the beach for about an hour, in order to reach the La Leona range station. 8$ per person for the entrance fee.
Neither David or myself are into horse riding, but we are always game to try something new. We figured that this would be a good way to see some of the surrounding countryside.
I found the saddle most uncomfortable, and they were unable to adjust it to suit my legs. It felt as if I was constantly holding my legs at an odd angle, and when I returned to the lodge I found the stirrups had removed a large patch of skin from my shin! No wonder I was uncomfortable.
The young lad who accompanied us on the ride spoke even less English than I speak Spanish, so communication was difficult. I gave him strict instrcutions before we set off (via an interpreter) that I did not want to trot or gallop. By the time we got into the woods, he seemed to have forgotten this, and set off at great speed! I had great difficulty following him and was screaming for him to slow down. He appeared to find this funny, but did eventually give up.
We went through the woods and up to a clearing where we had unsurpassed views over the countryside and out to the ocean. The only wildlife we spotted along the way, was a small frog where we stopped and dismounted. There might very well have been other birds and animals on route, but I was far too busy holding on to the horse for dear life, than to enjoy the scenery.
I've got to confess that this experience put me off trying horseriding again for a very long time!
One of the more enjoyable outings from the lodge was the guided walk in serach of birds and animals.
I love the noisy and colourful macaws that chatter and squabble in the tree tops, but for me the highlight was seeing a motmot.
The guides take you on different routes depending on what you are interested in seeing, and are very knowledgable and interesting.
There is also a botanical garden within the grounds of the lodge, where you can see bamboo, heliconia, ginger, banana, palms and native fruit trees.
Armed with a torch we set off to explore the grounds after dark. We were warned not to expect much in the way of wildlife, and that was good advice.
We did however see lots of great little frogs, a small but very poisonous spider, an owl and leaf cutter ants.
Of course, once you're on that Tree Platform, there is only one way to get off it: down! I was preety worried about this aspect, but it turned out to be OK.
Again you are harnessed and attached to a pulley system with two ropes. Your leader stands at the bottom to guide you down, but it really isn't that difficult. You control your own speed - th leader "flew" down at great speed, while the rest of us took it more wasy.
The worse part is stepping off the edge, once that is over, it is actually a very enjoyable experience.
The hotel has built a tree platform in the canopy of the nearby rain forest, 30m up. From there you can survey the surrounding jungle for signs of monkeys and birds. We saw two species of monkeys and numerous birds.
To reach the platfor, you zip along a wire from a hillside. Attached to a harbess you are connected to a pulley, and whoosh, the next minute you have sailed high above the ground on a wire and landed at the platform.