Off the Grid in the Osa: Exploring Costa Rica's Last Frontier - Page 2
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Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica  (Ben Horton/National Geographic/Getty)

For the most part, though, a new gold rush has arrived in the Osa: eco-tourism. Savvy locals and ex-pats took lessons from the over-development in other regions of the country and have set out to create a cottage industry around hyper-sustainable jungle accommodations and activities, many implemented without cutting a single tree.

“Today, untouched forest land is much more valuable than cleared farmland, just the opposite of how it used to be,” says Merlyn Oviedo, owner of the Danta Corcovado Lodge, as we walk around his property, stepping over bustling trails of leaf-cutter ants while squirrel monkeys scold us from the overhead lychee trees.

Oviedo inherited the jungle property from his gold-miner-turned-farmer father, and the place where his dad put down roots has been allowed to regrow around a handmade collection of bungalows. Each room sits secluded, deep in its own pocket of rainforest, where mornings come alive with the songs of birds, monkeys, and insects, and where dappled dawn light filters through the mesh walls and billowy mosquito nets.

Wildlife spotting in dense rainforests can be a little challenging from the ground because many creatures live almost exclusively in the canopy high overhead. So it’s not surprising that Costa Rica is the birthplace of the zip-line canopy tour. From the Danta Lodge, it’s just a short drive to the family-owned Osa Palmas, where a half dozen zip lines range from slow and scenic to an adrenaline-pumping, 50 mph thrill ride.

I ride the treetop trails with owner Eduardo Morales, and along the way he points out medicinal plants in the ground cover, macaws flapping overhead, and one of my bucket-list rainforest creatures—a tiny, neon-green poison-dart frog scurrying away through the sodden leaves on the jungle floor.

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