Esquinas is quite unlike anywhere we've stayed before - a unique combination of Costa Rican laid back and Austrian efficiency. The whole ethos of the place is perhaps best illustrated by the bar. Firstly, it works on an honesty basis - just help yourself and write down what you took in the book. Secondly, there is a colony of lined bats roosting above the beer fridge - they come and go as they please through the open sides of the spectacular thatched main lodge, providing excellent pre-dinner entertainment for keen nature photographers. Originally set up by Rainforest of the Austrians - a charity that has saved a significant chunk of pacific rainforest in Costa Rica - Esquinas manages to be right on without shoving its credentials in your face, and it seems to care as much about its guests and the local villagers as it does about the lovely environment that it's set in.
Nestled in a tiny clearing surrounded by pristine rainforest, Esquinas is about as close to nature as it gets whilst maintaining easy access to a warm shower and a functioning loo. Turtles and caiman have moved into the lodge's two ponds of their own accord; frogs and basilisks abound and we saw agouti right outside our lodgings. There's a pool for the human occupants too - fed by Esquinas's own stream. The tap water comes from the same source and we can vouch for its potability.
Esquinas has a mere 15 rooms and ours was immaculately turned out with lace-edged sheets, bed covers woven from forest fibres by the local indigenous people, and colourful appliqué curtains made by the ladies in Gamba, the nearby village. Its green credentials are impeccable and the food was lovingly prepared from mostly home-grown ingredients. You can wander round the garden and see where your grub is coming from. There were few other guests there during our stay but conversation flowed freely between tables and with the super-informative and helpful staff at mealtimes. Our visit wasn't remotely marred by the vast amounts of rain that fell in the afternoons - we hunkered down in the main lodge with coffee and wifi on tap and ploughed through the vast number of photos that we'd taken during the mornings, trying to identify every creature we'd seen using our own books and those in the lodge's quite well-supplied library.
Esquinas offers quite a wide array of activities for such a small place, although trips may have to be reorganised at short notice if the weather's inclement. We spent a good half day on a boat trip in the mangrove swamps of the Golfo Dulce, and did a couple of guided hikes. The lodge has several trails; it was very wet and muddy when we were here so some were closed and we were advised not to walk in the afternoons because of the higher chance of rain. We were glad of the wells provided when we did attempt the bird trail - after a couple of afternoons' downpours some of the paths had turned to streams. You can borrow bicycles or go go on horseback to explore the longer trails although we ran out of time to do this - all the more reason to go back! The guides are from the local village and know their wildlife well; communication was occasionally a bit tricky (we have about two words of Spanish between us) but this didn't cause any problems. The information provided on the lodge, its environment, and how best to enjoy your stay is well written and diplomatically backed up by the helpful staff. Three nights here wasn't enough for me and I can't wait to return. It's a hard place to reach (single-prop 12-seater plane from San Jose followed by some very skilled driving down a long unmade road) but worth every bit of the effort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Esquinas Lodge in southern Costa Rica, only 3 miles off the Interamerican Highway and 30 minutes from Golfito airport, is part of a model project combining conservation, ecotourism, research, reforestation and community aid. The lodge is 100% carbon-neutral and has 16 rooms, a restaurant, a bar and a pool. The 35-acre private reserve, surrounded by 2500 acres of untouched rainforest, attracts many mammals and over 200 species of birds. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching, and boat and kayak tours in nearby Golfo Dulce. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Esquinas Rainforest Hotel Golfito
- Esquinas Rainforest Lodge Costa Rica/Golfito