Off the Beaten Path In Costa Rica
When we were picking a country in Central America to visit for an entire month we kept hearing “Skip Costa Rica. It’s expensive and touristy.” Well, in some places it IS expensive, touristy and full of gringos. But there are ways to experience the best of this spectacular country far from the ziplines, butterfly farms and trip package tourists. Costa Rica has plenty of less-traveled rural towns where you will never hear English spoken and the adrenaline rush comes from the intense, mind blowing beauty of nature.
Glen and I have already been in Costa Rica for three weeks – no strangers to the intense greens, vivid birds, monkeys and wildlife. But this is the first time we ever wanted binoculars at breakfast, distracted from our huevos rancheros by some of the more colorful of some 250 bird species found in this area. This is how a tropical paradise would be if it was Photoshopped of any flaws and set to a soundtrack of bird calls and nature sounds.
The abundance of birds and wildlife here is no accident. Roger (Ro-her) and Rosie, our local hosts at Malekus Mountain Lodge have taken the spectacular “all natural ingredients” of Costa Rica to a new level. They recently planted native trees with berries and fruit to attract birds, as well as indigenous squash, tubers, and fruit to serve at meals. This beautiful, friendly family is also lucky enough to possess and cherish a primary growth tropical forest which somehow escaped the handsaws of ancestors. To allow guests and friends to fully appreciate the intense wildlife within the jungle forest, the family worked three months to build what Glen and I call “El Sendero Verde” or The Green Path. When Roger and Rosie offered to take us we jumped at the chance. As Roger strapped on a machete – “every paradise has serpents!”, we spritzed with bug spray. We took off through their lush, private, jungle along a 3.5 km path hand laid from fallen hardwood tree sections. With every step I pictured the hot, sweaty labor involved with constructing this one way trail through the jungle forest.
You can see why they call it the Green Path hot, sweaty labor involved with constructing this one way trail through the jungle forest. We found the Green Path an incredibly intimate way to get up close and personal with a jungle forest but not have any adverse impact on the environment. In other words, sneak up on any jungle critter who didn’t clear out when they smelled our bug spray!
Places like this aren’t found in guidebooks. We were directed to this finca by a savvy friend who also prefers authentic, off the beaten path exploring. He promised it as a “must do” and well worth passing up the gringo intensive tourist towns crammed with ziplines and butterfly farms. No travel clichés here at Malekus Mountain Lodge, a private 288 acre organic farm and ecolodge nestled between Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park and Miravalle Volcano National Park. After an hour’s drive from the Liberia International Airport we found ourselves nestled between the rainforests of the Central Highlands and the dry tropical zones of the Pacific Beach towns. An ideal situation that offers plantings, birds and wildlife of both systems.
Roger and Rosie are the real deal; they love life and are passionate about keeping their finca and lodge authentic. We felt enfolded into their family and wished we could stay for weeks. Perhaps Roger and Rosie recognized kindred spirits because on our last night at the finca they took us up, up, up along a cleared, wider trail to their own personal “mirador” or lookout – the highest spot on their expansive property. In the light of the setting sun and a full moon overhead we could just make out Lake Nicaragua in front and towering volcanic peaks to the east and west. With a cool evening breeze blowing on our faces, birds singing good night and two lovely new friends sharing their beautiful finca – this is the real Costa Rica. We’ll be back.
This finca was the highlight of our month in Costa Rica. If you are traveling there it is worth a stop.