“So, this is a road that’s on a map?” I kept asking Larry as he swung our car from side to side to miss the massive potholes in a rocky dirt trail down to Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Larry assured me that this was the stretch we’d traced on the map, the one I had naively calculated would take us about an hour or so. We traveled from Dominical, on the central coast, to the very southern tip of the country (which is the size of West Virginia) in just over five hours. The road grew rockier and sometimes all but disappeared as the jungle grew thicker with muscular vines and birds of paradise flowers. “If where we’re going is at the end of this road,” my partner Pieter said as a scarlet macaw flew overhead, “this is going to be good.”
In travel, as in life, tough roads lead to the best places. Luna Lodge, at the very tip of the Osa Peninsula, is tucked into a hillside overlooking Dulce Bay [CK], in a stretch of primary virgin rainforest that’s home to hundreds of rare bird species and four species of monkeys. This is one of the most biodiverse spots left on the planet, a lush web of 13 ecosystems that National Geographic called “the most biologically intense place on earth.” It’s a paradise.
Lana Wedmore, a native Coloradoan who has been in Costa Rica for 30 years, built Luna Lodge on 60 acres abutting the spectacular Corcovado National Forest 11 years ago. It’s the ever-evolving fulfillment of her dream, to build a small lodge where people could come to relax and appreciate what the rainforest has to offer. “We get disconnected, and nature is so healing,” Lana said to me yesterday as we sat at a table in the large open-air dining and lounging area overlooking the deep, lush Carate River Valley and the Pacific Ocean beyond. “I built this place to share because I fell in love with the area. But it has to be shared with the right person.”
Travelers looking for ecotourism with air conditioning will be disappointed at Luna Lodge. Those looking to immerse themselves in the rainforest’s vibrations, hike to year-round waterfalls, enjoy morning yoga overlooking the bay and feast on home-grown mangoes, bananas, avocadoes and pineapples should follow the rough road. (You can take a taxi if you’re not lucky enough to have Larry as your friend and driver.) Our domicile for the three nights that we’re here is a round little hobbit house built of bamboo canes, with a soaring conical roof made of swita, or thatch. (When Lana built the cabins, swita was abundant on the Osa Peninsula. It became so popular that now it’s scarce.) Our deck looks out over dense jungle canopy, a perfect spot for watching the sun over the ocean set before we join guests from the seven other cabins for dinner. Our stone bathtub and shower are completely open to the jungle.
Over New Year’s Eve, Lana hosted guests from 14 countries. President Oscar Arias Sanchez and the Minister of Tourism have been here. Her goal is not only to give them an incredible experience but to send them away with lessons about sustainable living. Luna Lodge is powered by a micro-hydro system that is ample but requires some conservation. Guests are asked to be conscientious about energy and water use, especially during the day when the power load is especially high. It’s many guests’ first encounter with being completely off the grid, and it’s a valuable experience. “We could be an example to the world of what sustainable living really means,” Lana told me. I can’t think of a more perfect place to get educated.
The bathrooms in Luna Lodge's eight bungalows are open to the jungle. Photo by Barbara Bourne