Costa Rica is a beautiful country, jammed full of amazing wildlife and breathtaking scenery. It is a safe, well-developed country, with fine infrastructure. It has become the #1 tourism destination in Central America for good reason. That being said, We were getting tired of running the “gringo circuit” and having every place we show up be overrun with tourists, price gouging tour operators, eco-tour this, eco-tour that. Where was the REAL Costa Rica? Someplace that hasn’t yet been bombarded by ex-pats looking to make a buck off of milk-faced tourists coming down on holiday. We were hunting for someplace where the smooth pavement ends and the true Costa Rican jungle takes back over.
When we last met up with our Costa Rican friend Erick, we were planning a 4×4 trip out to the “Osa Peninsula”. Dubbed Costa Rica’s last wilderness frontier, The Osa is rich in wildlife, sparsely populated and, until recently, very difficult to access. Much of this densely forested area is conserved in national parks and private reserves. Here, towering rainforests line undeveloped beaches and untouched coves, making this region one of the most beautiful anywhere on Earth.
Osa as seen from space
We loaded up the 4Runner and Erick loaded up his Nissan and we headed out from San Jose towards the jungle.
We are humming along when all of the sudden a huge thunderstorm hits us. It is coming down in sheets, we can barely see the road in front of us. I am losing sight of Erick who I am following out to the Osa, when all of the sudden the 4Runner bucks and then completely dies. Try to turn it back over and it just cranks and cranks but never turns over. Great…. broke down in a thunderstorm.
Luckily Erick’s truck is equipped with a HAM radio setup, which was the best handheld ham radio I can remember to this date, and he had given me a Walkie, So I radio up to him that I am having some issues and he circles back.
We jump out in the rainstorm and pop the hood trying to figure out what the hell is going out. Getting soaked to the bone in the process…
After some fiddling I realize that while driving down the bumpy and rutted roads the MAF sensor plug has wiggled itself free. Plug it back in and hit with a few zipties and we are back in action! I think 90% of our truck is held together by zipties at this point…
We cruise along the Osa peninsula with no real destination in mind. We eventually decide to head out to “Bahia Drake”.
We arrived in Drake and find a small fishing village with a beautiful rainforest lined sandy cove.
We drive right out onto the beach and setup camp for the night.
We share some beers and celebrate our arrival on the peninsula. We are honored with a beautiful sunset over the bay.
The Osa peninsula is one of the wettest places on earth, getting hit with an average of 360 inches of rain per year. It doesn’t take long till she starts dumping once again and cuts our celebration short. We both retreat into our individual homes for the night.
Next morning we are up early eager to explore more of the Osa. Erick talks to a local fellow who gives him the scoop on a beautiful beach that we need to go check out. He says the road out there is pretty rough with lots of river crossings. Excellent!!
We make it to our secret beach. A beautiful palm lined beach with not a soul to be seen.
We hear loud squawks and look up into the trees above. We find a family of Scarlet macaws hanging out gnawing on nuts.
We spend some time exploring our exclusive beach
The jungle is THICK right up to the shore. Who knows what kind of beasts lurk inside?
We decide to move on. Lauren and I are planning to backpack further into the jungle and need to pick up some permits from Puerto Jimenez.
Our new friend Erick and his truck.
On the way to P.J. we come across a MACK truck who was no match for the rough roads of the Osa. Good luck gettin’ AAA out here…
We grab the permits from the office and head down a wild road to Carate. The furthest south you can possibly drive in Osa.
Here we setup camp along the beach, have dinner, and prepare ourselves for the adventure to come. Backpacking Corcovado National Park. The most biologically intense place in the world.