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Trip Report 5th trip, but 1st time Osa - best trip EVER! Iguana Lodge/Bosque del Cabo

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I have been back for a few weeks from my fifth trip to Costa Rica, but I am still very much in the Pura Vida mode. Four of my friends joined me for our first trip to the Osa with time split between Iguana Lodge and Bosque del Cabo, May 5 - 14. It was the best trip EVER! :-))

Two of us arrived SJO at noon, easy (free) Interbus shuttle to Adventure Inn where we ate lunch and chilled out during the afternoon thunderstorm. We met four of my Costa Rican friends for dinner at Cafe Mundo in Barrio Amon. It's our annual tradition and I love catching up with them in person versus just on Facebook. The margarita was amazing, stuffed mushrooms and eggplant parmesan were delicious and I loved the fact that it appeared we were the only Americans in there. Cafe Mundo reminds me of restaurants in the French Quarter that are set in the old Creole cottages.

Next morning all five of us flew from Pavas on Nature Air. We were all very conscious of the weight limitation, so I was bummed when my carry-on backpack weighed in at 13 lbs. vs. the 10 lbs when I left home. I had brought a Kindle Fire down to an Alajuela friend and he had given me three enormous mangos from his garden, special variety, very sweet. So I asked the ticket agent if he'd like the mangos since that's what put it overweight. He declined and told me to just carry them separately - yeah! I loved flying Nature Air, such beautiful views of the mountains, the coast and the Sierpe River, smooth as could be. Maverick was waiting for us in Puerto Jimenez to take us to Iguana Lodge.

We had booked 3 clubs rooms (above the Pearl of the Osa) for 3 nights, specifically for beach time and tours of the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary, Rio Esquina and Golfo Dulce. When we arrived, one of the staff members said some local people had a beach party the night before that lasted until 1am, disturbing the other people in the remaining club room, so they had moved them to a casita and gave us the option of staying in the club rooms (which looked just fine) or a free upgrade to Villa Villa Kula - easy decision! Villa Villa Kula was fabulous - a three story "treehouse" villa that could sleep 9, full covered patio, bar, kitchen on ground floor, 2 bedrooms & bath on second floor and master suite on the third floor. All the bedrooms were totally screened in so you looked out into the canopy of trees and could catch glimpses of the beach. Each floor had a great covered porch area off the bedrooms, stone bathrooms were open from about chest up with the shower having some rattan blinds for privacy on some walls. We absolutely loved Villa Villa Kula and would highly recommend it for groups of friends, families, etc. Each of the three bedrooms had a double and a twin bed.

Since there weren't many people there, family style dinners weren't offered in the Iguana rancho, so we ate every night at the Pearl and loved it. Vladimir usually waited on us and we enjoyed chatting with him - fish tacos, margaritas, chilled shrimp salad were all very good. The breakfasts at the rancho were equally good - pineapple crepes, huevos ranchero, fresh fruit.

Although we had booked Iguana for beach time the surf was really rough due to the super moon and storms and the tide was pretty wild, so we weren't able to go swimming. Even the surfers were warning people about the tide, so we just hit the pool by mid-afternoon. On the lodge grounds we saw howler monkeys, family of sloths, iguanas, toucans, hermit hummingbirds and lots of different birds, especially scarlet macaws in the beach almond trees. Since the late afternoon/evening rains had just begun, the land crabs (or Halloween crabs) were out in full force - it was wild to see them on the paths at night.

We took the Osa Wildlife sanctuary tour and had the boat to ourselves with Kaliman as our guide. We enjoyed the sanctuary but thought there would be more animals than the few we saw. The job Carol and her staff/volunteers are doing impressed us all - not everyone could live such an isolated and dedicated life.

We had originally booked the dolphin tour in conjunction with the sanctuary, but Kaliman said since the water was still so rough (and lots of rain by Corcovado area) that our chances of seeing them were pretty slim. Plan B had us going up Rio Esquina to the mangrove swamps and we couldn't believe he got his boat up this tiny creek! Being surrounded by these huge trees and massive mangrove roots truly felt like we were in the forest primeval, very otherwordly. We saw a boat-billed heron, juvenile green heron grabbing for fish, roseate spoonbills, tree boa (my first!) and a juvenile white ibis among many other sightings.

When we returned Maverick was waiting for us so we invited both him and Kaliman to join us for lunch at Marisqueria Corcovado - wonderful grilled fish in garlic sauce, great place right on the harbor. Afterwards we hit a few shops in PJ and the supermarket to stock up for some Happy Hour supplies - couldn't let that beautiful patio go to waste! Since we had only seen one small croc on Rio Esquina, Maverick took us to a small lagoon near the PJ airstrip where there were 8 or 9 huge crocs and caimans.

The following morning I went birding with Sidnar, the resident guide, and saw lots of scarlet macaws, tanagers, honeycreepers and chestnut mandibled toucans, then I followed a troop of howler monkeys throughout the property. This was a chill-out morning for some of us, others went horseback riding, reading on the beautiful porches or snoozing on the new yoga deck at the beach. Lunch was back in PJ at Carolina's - huge grilled garlic shrimp and a banana batida for dessert - yum!

We had a super time at Iguana and thought it was an excellent place from which to do our Golfo Dulce tours.

(Hopefully these photo links will work!)

Off to Bosque del Cabo - I honestly felt like I had already been there since I've read so much about it and have become friends with many frequent visitors. It was everything I thought it would be and more!

We booked (the newly renovated) Casa Blanca for four nights and all of us fell in love with it - the huge deck is unbelievable with stunning views of the ocean. We could barely pull ourselves off the deck at times. I loved being woken up by the howlers starting around 4am and would often go lie in the one of the hammocks to watch the dawn break and listen to the sounds of the rainforest awakening. White faced capuchins were feeding in the fruit trees and spider and howler monkeys would jump past, too. Scarlet macaws would fly overhead with their loud cries, parrots were in the trees out front along with toucans and hummingbirds. The only thing a bit creepy were flocks of vultures circling us, swooping down at our deck - I mean I know we are getting older, but none of us had one foot in the grave yet!! :-)) The outdoor shower was awesome and felt sooooo good after those long hikes!

Since we all had different interests we each went our own way. I spent every morning hiking the various trails and photographing wildlife while some of my friends had the yoga instructor give classes on our deck, some went zip-lining, tree climbing and rappelling - we would meet up for lunch, pool time and Happy Hour back at Casa Blanca.

The food was excellent at BdC - I can't believe it, but I didn't gain any weight even w/ the banana pancakes, French toast and tuna melt!! I am sure that it was Heartbreak Hill that worked it off! The mahi-mahi was just delicious - I don't think we had a bad dish at any meal. The staff was great - Heilyn was just precious - she asked, "Who is Beekie" (Vicki) and she was waiting for me due to Tully's e-mail telling her I was coming. Jorge, Michael and Christina were all super nice and Daniel kept popping out of the kitchen to make sure everything was ok.

I went birding down on the main road w/ Carlos and saw several different birds such as the crested caracara, red-lored parrots, kingfishers, a Southern lapwing, herons, ibis and of course, scarlet macaws. We visited the frog pond every night since it was next door to CB and lucked out with several types of frogs and one snake.

No puma sightings for me, but one was seen on the Titi Trail the morning we arrived. I wasn't disappointed as there was so much other wildlife to see - my first time to see squirrel monkeys and there was a large troop of them within 10' of the trail - awesome.

The weather was fantastic, had some rain one afternoon, then a major storm our last evening, same at Iguana. The walk to the restaurant that night seemed fairly long with so much lightning and thunder - we sent a car back for two in our group who had decided against being human lightning rods - lol!

There are more bugs in Louisiana than we found there - weather was about the same as home, maybe cooler at Bosque with that gorgeous ocean breeze. The humidity was about the same as home, too, so none of us had any complaints about the heat - we all live in the deep South so we are used to it.

There weren't many people there, about 1/2 full when we arrived, but 8 of those were in a wedding party from England. By Sat. night we were down to 14 people with everyone from UK gone, but the bride and groom.

The wildlife was just spectacular and I'm already trying to figure out how/when to get back to the Osa and bring my husband with me!

We were all pretty bummed to be leaving Paradise, but so happy that we were fortunate enough to experience it for a short time. Back to PJ Airstrip and our Nature Air flight to Pavas where I had a taxi waiting to take us to Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo de Heredia. I chose it because it has ten acres of gorgeous gardens and planned to spend my afternoon there. Several of my Alajuela friends joined me for dinner and to walk through the gardens. It was a great way to say goodbye to my favorite country - I'll be back!

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