EL REMANSO LODGE / HUSH LEVEL 4
AS QUIET AS QUIET GETS...EXCEPT FOR THE MONKEYS.
To disconnect in the Osa Peninsula is not hard. No one takes your phone or your laptop at the door. They don’t need to. Because it's all useless at the El Remanso Lodge. An 185-acre stretch of preserved rainforest in one of the most untouched portions of Costa Rica.
To get here, you have to take a tiny plane—we’re talking tiny—from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez. There, an El Remanso greeter will meet you at the “airport" (a little landing strip beside a local village bodega) before driving you another bumpy forty-five minutes, in an open Jeep. Forging small rivers as you go.
If the trip itself isn’t exhilarating enough, the moment the jeep stops is even better. Heck, even the Swiss Family Robinson would be stunned. A series of tree houses and open-air cabins begin to appear, each tucked perfectly into giant leafy palms. Undoubtedly a few Toucans will cruise by, as though on a timer. It’s the picture of tropical paradise.
The lodge is all-inclusive. And it’s a good thing, because there’s nothing else for miles. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of things to do. Waterfall repelling, early-morning bird watching, surfing on the famous Matapalo breaks, or zip-lining to a canopy tree platform tour, are just a few activities available between naps in your private hammock. On-staff ecologists offer nature walks, and expertly point out puma tracks or a camouflaged moth the size of your face.
The meals are delightfully fresh, healthy, and local. Plenty of the Costa Rican “typical” food: rice, eggs, and black beans, alongside fresh mangoes, pineapple, and papaya. Not to be missed are the Pina coladas complete with a bamboo straw. Even for the Pina Colada connoisseur, this one might be the best in the world.
And everything seeps with local culture. The lodge provides jobs to twenty-five local staff. But activities are also outsourced to the community. To go horseback riding, you’re dropped off out a family farm just down the road. The private ride takes you through the forest and onto the beach with one of the farm owner's nephews.
The owner-operators of the El Remanso are a husband and wife team, whose parents worked for Greenpeace several decades ago, before buying the property. Since its creation in 1999, the eco-lodge has set the precedent for preservation in the area. It was one of the first in Costa Rica to use electricity exclusively created by its own micro-hydro system—also known as a waterfall. Hello again, Swiss Family Robinson. They also recycle all their waste, run their own compost system, and participate in local reforestation programs on the Peninsula.
You may or may not be into all of this. But surrounded by acres of tenderly preserved jungle, even most skeptics find themselves asking, where do I sign up?
All in all, the El Remanso lodge is built out of a great reverence for the rainforest. And being there, you can’t help but feel it too. Even when a few bugs make their way into the room, it's hard not to salute them, as fellow guests of the same tropical experience.
Sure, if there’s an emergency – you know, like an attack by a wild boar or one of the world’s most poisonous snakes living on the property — there’s a landline in the main office. There’s also an old Macintosh computer hooked up to the Internet there. But the office itself holds very short hours. And often, you can spot a foot-long green grasshopper resting on the monitor. But no one seems to mind.
In general, El Remanso is one of the best places to test the waters of a Digital Detox, because there’s just so much to do. Not a moment to stop and miss your newsfeed.
But we can’t say it’s quiet. In fact, it’s VERY loud. The rainforest is alive and howling by five AM. And you’re part of it. It’s enough to make anyone’s nerves stand up on end. The sounds and smells of beetles and green macaws and tiny howler monkeys, trying rather successfully to sound like King Kong.
And despite the name of this blog, we’re ok with that.
It’s nice to be reminded that we’re not the only organisms hustling and bustling around this earth. In fact, these trees and bugs and critters of the rainforest don’t give two flying frogs about your EOD deadline. They’ve got their own work to do. And it’s humbling to be still, for once, as the rest of the world hums and stirs around us. Sometimes all that racket quiets the mind.
GETTING THERE: Fly to San Jose, then on to Puerto Jimenez
AVERAGE PRICE PER NIGHT: $240
TRAVELLER TIP: The first few weeks of May marks the beginning of rainy season. Risk it, and pay half the price.
HUSH LEVEL: 4
NO WI-FI / NO CELL SERVICE / NO IN-ROOM TV
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all photos courtesy of the El Remanso Lodge