Osa Peninsula Has A History Of Surviving Challenges, But It Takes Work


After two visits in 2019 I wrote a quick note about the Osa Peninsula, and afterwards I found the map above on National Geographic’s website. A couple years have passed since those visits and National Geographic published this article that I somehow missed until now. Jamie Shreeve shares a history I was well aware of due to our four years managing Lapa Rios, and back then I heard versions of it many times in the first person; but here it is told better than by anyone else in my experience, plus accompanied by the kind of photography you expect from National Geographic (not included here out of respect for the copyrights of those images). The title notes the challenge facing the peninsula, and my bet is on the peninsula’s having the support it needs to survive:

A loss of tourism threatens Costa Rica’s lush paradise

The Osa Peninsula is a biodiverse wonder and a model for conservation. But its preservation programs have been devastated by COVID-19.

Celedonia Tellez doesn’t recall the year she moved to the Osa Peninsula, or exactly how old she was, but she remembers well why she came: free land. At the time, the peninsula, a 700-square-mile crook on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, was a forest frontier, separated from the mainland by a neck of near-impenetrable mangroves and accessible mainly by boat. Celedonia was pregnant when she arrived with her five children, six chickens, a dog, and 700 colones, about one dollar. She also brought her boyfriend, but he “hated nature, and would run away from insects,” she remembers. So she took an ax and cleared the land herself.

“When I was cutting down the trees, I would think how they must have taken so long to grow, and I cut them down in an instant,” she says. “That’s what we did. We cut down the forest to live.” Continue reading

Bosque del Cabo and Xandari

A Yellow-headed Caracara raising its head feathers

A Yellow-headed Caracara raising its crest at Bosque

I’ve posted before on the beauty of Bosque del Cabo and some of the wildlife that my family and I spotted when we were there just about a month ago, but at the time I didn’t touch on the complementarity of the coastal rainforest nature lodge with Xandari Resort in the Central Valley, where I’ve been based the last six months.

My first experience of the compatibility between Bosque del Cabo and Xandari was vicarious. One of my good friends at Cornell knew that I had lived in Costa Rica and asked for advice on places to stay for his parents and younger sister over spring break (unfortunately, he had to stay in Ithaca for varsity athletics). Of course, my first recommendation was Xandari Continue reading

Wildlife at Bosque del Cabo

Pochote (I think) trees at Bosque

As I mentioned in my last post about Bosque del Cabo, one of the lodge’s strongest points is the access and shelter for wildlife that it provides, being right by the Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula and having such a huge nature reserve as part of the property.

While walking along the extensive network of trails at Bosque, which includes a suspension bridge perfect for peering into the canopy and down at the river, my family and I never stopped seeing great examples of jungle life that people come to Costa Rica to see. I’ve very briefly referenced the Osa’s incredible biodiversity before, and the statistics are proven in experience every time I visit.

Giant strangler figs with hanging roots that are perfect to try free-climbing (as my brother Milo did), well-maintained trails that were never too muddy even in peak rainy season, and cool mushrooms all over the place. The bark of trees alone was full of life! At one point we saw some scratch marks that could even be territorial signals from one of the several species of wild cat that are in the Osa.


female Great Curassow

In terms of birds, it was fantastically easy to spot cool-looking ones like the Crested Guan or Roadside Hawk, and in some cases it even seemed like the exotic species were literally lining up to be seen. Great Curassows, which are fairly uncommon outside of protected areas, walked the open areas of Bosque del Cabo like peacocks at some royal palace. We also spotted the relatively harder to find White Hawk, and I was lucky enough to get photos of both a female and male Black-throated Trogon!

Continue reading

The Beauty of Bosque del Cabo

A rainbow (and hazy twin off to the right) seen from the beach reached by one of Bosque del Cabo’s trails.

A week or so ago, my family and I visited a nature lodge at the tip of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula called Bosque del Cabo. It was the first time I’d been to the lodge, and in the initial twelve hours of being there, I was struck by three important things that in the coming days I saw as characterizing the Bosque experience.

We arrived at around 6PM, so we started by getting settled in one of the several casas that complement the cabinas as more spacious and family-friendly accommodations. It was pretty much completely dark out at this point, but I could tell that from the porch at the back of the casa that we overlooked either the Pacific Ocean or the Golfo Dulce (the gulf created by the Osa Peninsula). The next day, I was proved right — and the view from most of the oceanside casas and cabinas is stunning. Continue reading

Animal Behavior: The Osa Peninsula

On a recent trip to the Osa Peninsula for a couple of days, and one herpetologically-rich night, I found a number of the types of animals that make Costa Rica such a popular destination for wildlife-lovers. The Osa is home to about half the species that Costa Rica boasts, making it the most biodiverse spot in the country — or even the world. The density of fauna seen on any hike through the forest back up the statistics (2.5% of the earth’s biodiversity just on this little peninsula?!), and I was glad to be able to get some video of typical animal behavior during my time there. Continue reading