We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,341 posts
131 reviews
Save Topic
Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

We just had a remarkable week-long vacation to the Osa peninsula (150 species of birds and a PUMA among the highlights). I’ll break it up into two parts. Part one will be our arrival in San Jose through our stay at Iguana Lodge near Puerto Jimenez. Part 2 will be our experiences at Bosque del Rio Tigre and Bosque del Cabo.

Day 1) We arrived in mid-morning via TACA, and had a friendly face from Tucan Limo services pick us up and take us downtown while they looked after our bags. (our flight to the Osa was several hours later) At the airport, we saw a guide from a previous trip, Juan Brenes aka natureguide, who looked healthier than I've ever seen him. Small world!

In downtown San Jose, we spent a bit of time in the national theater before touring the Coin/Gold museum. We found it very worthwhile--especially the gold portion, which demonstrated how the items were made and their cultural meaning as well as showing off some amazing pieces. We did a leisurely lunch at the nearby Gran Hotel Costa Rica--the food was pretty good but you really pay for the atmosphere of an old-world style grand hotel.

The Nature Air flight to Puerto Jimenez went about as smoothly as a small plane going over mountains can go.

Upon arrival Maverick from the Iguana Lodge picked us up and our three night stay there began.

Lodging/Food

At the Iguana Lodge (on its own beach fairly close to Puerto Jimenez but seemingly far, far away), we opted to stay in the Club Rooms instead of the casitas in order to keep our budget semi-reasonable. This turned out to be a very good bargain—you get access to the same high level of service, beautiful grounds, tours, beach location, views etc as those in the more expensive units. The room itself was more than nice enough, with a nice shower and great view of the ocean/gulf.

Food at the Iguana Lodge was perhaps the best we’ve had in Costa Rica (Ylang Ylang in Montezuma is right up there). Everyone has breakfast at the main lodge building (El Rancho), lunch is over by the Club Rooms building (the former Perla de la Osa) whereas dinner is either at location. The dinner at La Perla is more of a standard ala carte menu with separate tables, while the dinner at El Rancho is communal—everyone eating the same food (a little more sophisticated than the Perla menu) while sitting around a table lit by candles at a single time (dinner is at 7:00 PM). The night we had the dinner the owners of the lodge were joined us and three other couples.

Those staying at the casitas have dinner at El Rancho included in their room price and it’s assume you’ll eat there. While staying at the Club Rooms, you still have the option of eating at El Rancho—you just pay for it. It’s a great deal, and much less expensive than you might expect. You do need to let them know by about noon if you’re going to choose that option. So, if you want to do that your first night, let them know in advance.

The only meal we ate outside of Iguana Lodge while staying there was a dinner at Pizzamail.it in Puerto Jimenez. The restaurant at La Perla closes by 8:00, and our night hike lasted until about 8:30. The pizza and drinks there were very good, and it’s a very charming open air place where both locals and tourists feel equally at home.

If you like scarlet macaws, this is perhaps the best place to stay in Costa Rica. The one morning we tried to count, we saw 17 by 8:45 am. We did also see some cool other birds, as well as seeing white faced monkeys and hearing howlers.

Activities:

We did both organized and very casual ‘activities’ while at Iguana Lodge. We spent quite a bit of time in their lap pool (it gets HOT there as early as 7:00 am) which is close to the really lovely yoga/massage area. We also spend some time on the beach and on the platform they’ve built to look at the ocean while enjoying refreshing breezes.

Organized activities included:

Day 2: mangrove kayaking, which was very cool (saw things like an Osprey flying overhead with a fish in its talons, 3 species of kingfisher, etc). Besides that, it’s just kind of cool to navigate your kayak through the narrow inlets where you’re up close and personal with the mangroves. My wife even saw a hawksbill turtle on the way to the mangroves from the town harbor. WARNING: Do not use the two-person kayak unless you put a small, non-paddling child up front. With two full-size adults, it’s impossible to steer (even the guide couldn’t do so). The guide from Escondido Trex provided a really good explanation of the ecology of the mangrove areas.

Night hike at Rio Nuevo. This one involved putting on rubber boots and walking in a shallow stream (but not so shallow water didn’t get in our rubber boots—bring replacement socks or water sandals with you for afterwards). We saw a number of really cool things—sleeping birds, tons of frogs, a few snakes, and even a family of kinkajous. The coolest thing I would say was happening upon a tree with 5-7 juvenile basilisks in it. They eventually noticed us, got startled, and all dropped into the water and ran on top of the water at the same time. It’s a cool experience to see this happen once on a trip, and we were watching a bunch do it at the same time. Additional hint: wear your headlamp on your wrist, not your head . Wear long pants and sleeves, and use bug repellent—they are present in numbers. Not necessarily biting, but really annoying. Sidnar the naturalist for Iguana Lodge

Day 3: Boat tour of the Golfo Dulce: We were the only people to sign up for a tour, so the manager of the lodge called around and got us a really great deal. Our boat captain/guide who goes by Russo provided a very enthusiastic tour for us. So much so that we had to ask him to go back to port while he was offering to show us more and take us snorkeling—3.5-4 hours on the water was about all we could handle. Highly recommend him, if you want to ask for someone by name while staying there. The Golfo Dulce is just beautiful—open to the ocean but smooth as glass, surrounded by jungle-covered hills. We saw several pods of dolphins, including spinners, spotted and bottlenose dolphins. They were very playful, and would swim in front of the boat to show off for us, even at some points jumping straight out of the water. We then did a brief turn up the Rio Esquinas mangrove area to look for wildlife. There wasn’t much except for three Swallow-Tailed Kites, which I had never seen before and are extraordinarily graceful and lovely to behold.

That afternoon, we enjoyed some time on the beach and by the pool.

Day 4: This was all about being lazy, enjoying the pool, checking out the birds and monkeys, and one last Osa Sunshine (for me) and Passionfruit Daquiri (for my wife) at lunch before Maverick took us to Bosque del Rio Tigre.

That’s it for part 1. Will post part 2 (Bosque del Rio Tigre and Bosque del Cabo) relatively soon.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
14,821 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Fantastic report, Rac. You did not mentioned that Iguana Lodge has wifi access. Looking forward to read Part 2, specially about Bosque del Rio Tigre which is not mentioned often in this forum, yet I heard it is a birder and wildlife extravaganza.

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,341 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

We had wifi in our rooms. I don't want to encourage people to use wifi in the Osa though.

Re Bosque del Rio Tigre--we saw 96 species of birds in 24 hours, and an oppossum in our bathroom at night.

Pura vida!

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
14,821 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Darn, yet another place to put on my wish list. I better move to Costa Rica, hahaha. Now wifi, yes I know outside is where we should all be, but frankly, could we stay away from the forum if there is an opportunity to take a quick look?! At least between the sunset and the dinner, with a sundowner in our hands?

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,341 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

I only used it to post photos on FaceBook in order to taunt my acquaintances suffering through the cold and snow.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
46,266 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

As always nice to see you and your great wife...really a honor to drive you guys...

Also great report...

sincerely yours from PARADISE!

roadadvisor

Puerto Jimenez...
Level Contributor
354 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Estoy Feliz para usted! The first part of your report is great. I'm glad you enjoyed time in PJ! Look forward to read part 2 Pura Vida! Ballardo

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
14,821 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

I would love to be taunted by your photos on FB or elsewhere. Could you send me a link / invitation via PM? Gracias!

Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,341 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Part 2:

Day 4(continued)After one last lunch (I recommend both the Osa Sunshine and the Curried Chicken Sandwich for lunch) Maverick took us to Bosque del Rio Tigre near Dos Brazos. I would say Bosque del Rio Tigre is about 30 minutes or so outside of Puerto Jimenez. The last 300 yards to the lodge truly stretch the definition of "road"--you're literally driving on the river bank.

Anyway, when we got to the lodge it turned out we were the only guests that night. We met both Abraham and Liz, the owners, right away.

Lodging: Bosque del Rio Tigre

The lodge itself is a completely open two-story structure--there are literally no walls on the first floor, and the second floor is also open to the outside, with the sleeping rooms and bathroom partitioned off. Even the bedrooms are open to the outside. There are mosquito nets, but other than that it's true indoor/outdoor living. There were even bats resting on the roof overhang on the second level. We didn't bother them, and they didn't bother us. It's actually very lovely--they keep the place spotless, the open air setting makes you feel very peaceful, relaxed and interacting with nature (as you'll read below).

Abraham is scary good at spotting birds. Just sitting in his hammock he would point out and ID hummingbirds through thick vegetation from 10 meters away--he spotted a band-tailed barbthroat that it took the rest of us about 5 minutes of effort to locate. The feeders there draw birds such as the black-cheeked ant tanager, spot-crowned euphonia, buff throated saltator, blue-crowned motmot, wood rails, little tinamou,and red-legged honeycreepers. Other hummingbirds included the purple-crowned fairy, charming hummingbird, blue-throated goldentail, and the ubiquitous rufous tailed hummingbird.

We hung out in the hammocks and chairs there until 3:00 for our bird hike (between 10:00 and around 2:30 it's so hot there you pretty much don't want to move out of the shade). For our afternoon hike,Abraham took us around his property there. Let me tell you, when you have an extraordinary guide taking you around your own property, you're going to see a lot of birds. Green honeycreeper, pigmy kingfisher, black-crowned and masked tityras, gray headed kite, bay-headed tanager, summer tanager, golden-naped woodpecker, slaty-tailed trogon, mangrove cuckoo plus dozens of others.

After about two hours of hiking, we were ready to rest up before dinner. Dinner was very yummy--since it's such a small place, if you have any issues just let them know ahead and they'll make sure the food is suited towards your needs. After showing us a red-eyed tree frog and three-toed sloth visible from the porch of the lodge, Abraham and Liz went back to their home about 100 meters away, and we tucked in for the night.

Or so we thought. About 10:00 pm, I heard something moving on the second floor common area, right outside our room. It was bumping into tables. So long as it wasn't people, not to worry. But what if it was people? We were alone. I convinced myself to let it go, only then to hear what sounded like footsteps on the ground right below our bedroom. Yikes! I woke my ife up (to her great displeasure) to ask her if she heard what I did. She said, yes, you're the one who wanted to be so close to nature. Enjoy. Anyhow, after again convincing myself there were no banditos around, I went back to sleep.

Only to be woke up around 12:30 by an intense downpour of rain. Of course when such things happen there is but one natural impulse. So, I left our room to walk over to the bathroom. But then I saw something scurry into the bathroom, and when my eyes adjusted to the light, I could see what looked like a 7 inch long rat tail sticking out from underneath the bathroom door (the door was open, so the critter was hiding between the door and the wall). Now, when you're on a trail, wearing boots and fully clothed, and it's daylight, this kind of wildlife sighting is pretty cool. Under these circumstances, pretty much the opposite.

Day 5

I got up the next morning for a very early pre-breakfast, and spoke briefly with Liz and Abraham, Based on my desciptions, she said my night time terrors were probably a gray four-eyed oppossum in the bathroom and a tamandua opening a termite nest on the ground. Indiana Jones I am not.

Anyhow, my wife's arthritis was acting up, so she passed on the morning hike with Ulysses, one of Abraham's guides (Abraham was taking another couple out in the morning--they had a camera with a lens the size of Brazil). Good move on her part--this hike was going to be up a ridge 200m high with poor footing in wet conditions in order to get one of coveted sightings--the Turquoise Cotinga. I only slipped once, but also tripped on some barbedwire on the trail (no harm done thankfully). It was hard work, but after about 75 minutes we reached the top. On the way we saw several parrots and a black-throated trogon. And up there it was bird heaven. In one small cluster of trees at the top, we saw not only the Turquoise Cotinga, but a Baltimore Oriole. Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Shining Honeycreeper, Red-legged honeycreeper, and chestnut manidbled toucan. Plus an amazing view from the top--you could see across the Golfo Dulce all the way to Panama despite being several miles inland.

On the way back down we had good luck and came across a lek--group mating dance--of orange collared manakins. You could hear the buzz of their wings as they flew. Then they'd land, and we'd hear the characteristic "snap" of their wings. Very cool.

We circled back to the lodge to conduct our quest for the Baird's trogon along a different trail. We didn't see it, even after crossing the river and hunting through town. But, the effort wasn't a total loss--we saw golden-hooded tanager, red-rumped woodpecker (a real rarity in Costa Rica), white-shouldered tanager, stripe-throated and long-billed hermits, a mating pair of purple gallinules, red-capped manakins, and waiting for us at the lodge was a white-necked puffbird.

After breakfast, we enjoyed a long overdue shower in the showers (semi-outdoor, separate from the lodge), and then spend the time relaxing and making notes of the birds we'd seen. After that we enjoyed some down time in the hammocks as well as lunch, and waited for our transfer to Bosque del Cabo. When the car arrived, we had seen 95 species of birds. I added 96 from the car as we were pulling out--king vulture flying so high at first I thought it was a plane. Perhaps unexpectedly, this is one of the few places we've stayed where we didn't see or even hear monkeys. But we were there for the birds, and we got those in spades.

The transfer to Bosque del Cabo took around 1 hour and 40 minutes. The last half of the road between Puerto Jimenez and BdC is the worst road we've traveled on in Costa Rica, including trips to Nosara/Ostional, the Arenal Observatory Lodge, Montezuma, and Monteverde. But, we got there. They had a yummy welcome cocktail for us, and we were quickly off through the lovely grounds to Congo Bungalow, our home for the next three days.

Lodging

So, we sit down on our deck, gazing at an absolutely stupendous view of the Pacific/Golfo Dulce, when we see spider monkeys playing and eating in the trees in front of us. Eventually they got within 15 feet of our deck. My wife turned to me and said "this is my favorite place we've ever stayed." Within 15 minutes of arriving.

I'll admit I was skeptical of the hype surrounding BdC one encounters, but it's hard to argue with that.

We stopped by the Happy Hour at the bar and talked to a guy--perfectly nice chap-- who had been on the afternoon bird hike. He said "within 15 minutes after we got out of the car, we saw this bird, I think they called it a cotinga. The guide said to tell any bird person and they'd be jealous." Grrrrrrr.

Dinner there is family style with a fantastic buffet. Overall, I think the dinner there was on par with the best food we've had in Costa Rica, including Iguana Lodge and Ylang Ylang. Breakfast and lunch were very good, but I don' t think they quite rose to the level at Iguana Lodge. Very subjective though.

Day 6:

We got up early to hit the Titi trail, which is supposed to be good for wildlife and where some people have reportedly seen pumas.

We got to the trail (it's a fairly stiff hike just to get to the trail during which we saw agouti and white faced monkeys) at around 6:00 and for the first 15-20 minutes saw nothing. Not a monkey. Not a bird. Not even a bug. Nothing.

We began thinking that people had been exaggerating the wildlife here when I saw it walking away from the trail on the right hand side, about 10 meters away.

A 5 foot long female puma. Probably 90-100 lbs.

I frantically waved to my wife who was behind me to hurry up and look. I then fumbled with my camera, got a picture lined up, and then realized the flash was on. Not sure if it was a good idea to use flash in these circumstances and provoke the animall, I turned it off, By the time it was in frame and focused, it was on the other side of a fallen tree and out of site. It had never made a sound.

So, about 14 hours into our stay it had already exceeded all of our expectations. We saw howlers and spider monkeys, a pair of Great Currasows, and a couple of peccaries, and were off the trail by 7:15 or so.

When we got back to the lodge, we weren't eager to draw attention to ourselves by making an announcement of a puma sighting.

Okay, that's a lie. It's the first thing we mentioned to Phillip the biologist when we saw him, as well as the front desk staff. Pretty soon people who we hadn't met were coming up to talk to us about it. And, it was Cotinga Guy's turn to be jealous.

We did another short hike after breakfast (Manakin and Trogon trails--best sightings were a poison dart frog and Great Tinamou). Then lunch, down time on our deck gazing at the ocean, and then an afternoon bird hike with Carlos on the road to Puerto Jimenez. At first I was thinking "we're staying at this legendary rainforest lodge with 700 acres, and he's taking us to a road by a cattle pasture? But, we saw some good birds (in addition to species we had already seen), including red-breasted blackbird, noisy flocks of crimson-fronted parakeets and red-lored parrots, a Northern Jacana mother with two baby chicks, and an odd sighting of a Southern Lapwing, a bird rarely seen outside South America.

Day 7

The next morning we went on the early bird tour with Carlos on the BdC grounds--saw black-throated and violaceous trogons, green and red-legged honeycreepers, red-capped manakins, pileated woodpecker, white-lined and gray-headed tanagers amongst the players.

We enjoyed a dip in the pool after lunch (we waited until after lunch because the pool chairs were all occupied in the morning--but no one was swimming. Ugh, why go to a place like BdC just to hang out in a lounge chair next to a pool?) We then hiked Zapatero trail in the late afternoon, which was a lovely trail but almost devoid of wildlife other than a troop of howlers and an agouti. We did see a purple crowned fair hovering vertically over a small stream--you could really see why they're called fairies. Other people later reported seeing squirrel monkeys---the one monkey we didn't see--on that trail. Ugh.

We were pretty beat after that--it's a long walk and a lot of it is up and down. So we hopped in the outdoor shower, enjoyed some more deck time, and then hit happy hour and dinner.

Day 8:

We tried our luck at the Titi trail one last time, with more limited results (a few monkeys, a couple of chestnut-mandibled toucans and 5 Great Currasows). But, who were we to complain? One last breakfast and then packing, showering, and some final moments relaxing on the deck while looking at the ocean. From there it was a transfer back to Puerto Jimenez, a flight to San Jose, where mi amigo Luis and his lovely (and very patient) wife Rocio picked us up and joined us for a Chinese food lunch at Isla Verde near the Pavas airport before dropping us off for our flight home.

Hint: When flying TACA, use the web check in if at all possible, otherwise you get hosed in the check in line as those who did the web check in get to jump the line in front of you to get their bags checked.

I will be posting pictures on Facebook when I can summon the time and initiative,and will post a link then.

Edited: 16 February 2013, 20:28
Brooklyn, New York
Destination Expert
for Sarapiqui
Level Contributor
5,341 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

For those keeping score at home:

150 species of birds

13 endemic species of birds

2 oddball sightings of birds (Red Rumped Woodpecker and Southern Lapwing)

Three species of monkeys

One puma

One marsupial in our bathroom

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
14,821 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Osa Trip Report: Pt Jimenez, Dos Brazos, Matapalo

Now you scared away that puma I wanna take photos of! I hope she will be back in July. If purely for wildlife an hiking, which property would be better?