Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica
This Costa Rican rainforest lodge rests in the biologically diverse (and sensitive) Cabo Matapalo, anchored on the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula with no shortage of jungle to hike, animals to spot, and sea air to enjoy.
Phil Spier's journey to Costa Rica is like most others from North America. He started visiting the peaceful Central American nation in his 20's and finally purchased a tract of land after five years of annual vacations. That tract of land became Bosque del Cabo in 1987, a rainforest lodge perched on the southernmost tip of the the country's wildest region.
Today Bosque del Cabo encompasses more than 750 acres of land overlooking both the Pacific Ocean and Golfo Dulce. The property is accessible only by four-wheel drive, 22 kilometers south of the peninsula's largest town, Puerto Jimenez. Even in the thick of the tourist season with little to no rain to speak of, drivers might encounter a couple of streams en route to the lodge.
Environmentalism and conservation are the heart of Bosque del Cabo. Building materials have been reused, waste products recycled, and food scraps are used as compost for the gardens. More noticeably, there is no air conditioning on the property or in any of the lodges. A small fan over the bed offers a bit of respite from the humid nights. Otherwise, there's always the pool next to the bar where you can cool off.
In fact, modern trinkets are few and far between at the lodge. Then again, shame on you if you travel to the rugged heart of the Osa Peninsula expecting to catch the big game on a flat screen television. There is, however, wireless internet accessible at the bar.
The primary forest surrounding the property is perhaps the crown jewel of Bosque del Cabo with trails comprising about 15 miles' worth of hiking. There is no shortage of eco-lodges and hotels in Costa Rica and surrounding Central America, In fact, there are others in the same corner of the Osa Peninsula. However, it's the primary forest that makes Bosque del Cabo a special place for an exclusive getaway. The paths are winding with steep inclines and descents, and are teeming with wildlife. In other words, you're working for that ice cold Imperial by the pool at the end of the day. Though of course if frequent 90-degree knee movements and grabbing trees for assistance strike you as a tad daunting, there are shorter, more relaxing jaunts available.
Surfing, fishing, dolphin watching, waterfall rappelling, snorkeling, tree climbing, ziplining and kayaking are also available either on the property or by signing up with the reservation office. You need a solid four full days at Bosque del Cabo to get your money's worth, otherwise you'll be left with post-vacation blues, itching to get back and finish that list of activities.
Animal spotting is another huge draw to Cabo Matapalo and Bosque del Cabo. Mornings often start with the very distinct calls of howler monkeys beckoning across the rainforest. Early risers can then take advantage of a guided bird watching tour or wake up with a cup of Costa Rican coffee starting as early as 5:30 a.m. at the full service bar next to the pool. Breakfast is served between 7 and 9 a.m. in the open air restaurant where you can also place a lunch order to go if you'll be away at an activity during the lunch hour at noon.
Food menus are posted online. Frequent Costa Rican travelers will recognize the Tico Breakfast of gallo pinto with two eggs, chicken sausage, and corn tortillas. It's perhaps the country's most reliable meal alongside the casado (rice, beans, salad and meat), which of course is offered during lunch. For those who wish to deviate from the traditional, there is no shortage of alternatives that expand on the Costa Rican culinary tradition.
Communal dining is the norm, so travel with friends or family if you're not particularly social as conversation can feel obligatory. There's also a happy hour at the bar with snacks if you're one looking to chat with your fellow travelers.
Rooms start with two classic bungalows (named Bambu and Sol), constructed out of tropical hardwoods with thatched-roofs. Then there are the classic and deluxe cabinas with the latter offering one king-sized bed and the classics equipped with two double beds. The exception being the deluxes with lofts. Those come with an additional single and double bed in the loft. Private bathrooms with an outdoor garden shower, relaxing hammock, and chairs to enjoy the open ocean view are included, and all of the above are connected by stone paths and trails that line the property. Prices vary depending on the number of guests per lodge and the time of the year.
Speaking of the rates, prices drop considerably between May and November in the green season or more infamously (and realistically) known as the rainy season. For example, two people in a classic lodge will spend $200 per night per person (including three meals and tax) during the green season. The high season is the high season for a reason though; it's the best time to visit Costa Rica and most especially the Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge in the Osa Peninsula.
Web Address: www.bosquedelcabo.com
Total Number of Rooms: 17
Published rates: $165 to $480 per person, meal plans available for additional charge
Review and photos by Joe Baur.