Costa Rica’s pristine Osa Peninsula is blanketed by some of the last remaining lowland tropical rain forest in Central America and edged by beaches rich in marine life. At its tip is Lapa Rios, a remarkable 1,000-acre reserve created to protect the area’s precious biodiversity and to share it in a sustainable way. The 16 bungalows of Lapa Rios Lodge are built on natural ridges within the rain forest, affording spectacular views of the coast as well as close-up observation of tropical flora and fauna.
It would be hard to find a more authentic rain forest experience than this. You awaken to the sounds of the jungle, watch scarlet macaws glide by from your private outdoor shower, and set off into the trees to explore with local guides whose knowledge of the area’s ecosystems runs deep. And yet the experience is relaxing too—there are secluded beaches at the end of many a jungle path, delightful meals served al fresco, and a luxurious bungalow awaiting you at the end of the day.
Lapa Rios is the creation of John and Karen Lewis, two former Peace Corps volunteers who in 1990 left their home and their careers in the U.S., liquidated their assets, and set out to establish a private reserve in one of Costa Rica’s most unspoiled wildernesses. Their mantra was that a standing forest is more valuable than one cut down, and they engaged the local community by fostering economic opportunities tied to conservation of the rain forest.
Opened in 1993, Lapa Rios Lodge was a pioneer in ecotourism, offering environmentally friendly luxury and an upscale rain forest experience designed to celebrate and preserve the area’s biodiversity. Today, Lapa Rios is also a haven from technology, a rare opportunity to unplug, slow down, and fully focus on the wild world around you.
When you reserve your space through National Geographic Unique Lodges, you’ll be treated to a private lunch in the rain forest. Join a guide for the walk into the forest to a series of waterfalls, learning about the flora and fauna you spot along the way. Take a dip in the falls' natural pools, then soak up the jungle ambiance over delectable food and a chilled bottle of wine, served in the treetops by dedicated waitstaff.
Recognized globally as a model of sustainable tourism, Lapa Rios has helped protect some of Costa Rica’s most valuable biodiversity while bringing new life skills and professional opportunities to the remote communities of the Osa Peninsula. Lapa Rios works with Earth Equilibrium, a local nonprofit, to build school classrooms, dining rooms, and playgrounds; provide needed school supplies; and install water pumps and solar panels to supply clean water and electricity in local communities.
A new conservation easement ensures that the property's 1,000 acres, including old-growth primary forest, will be preserved in perpetuity. The Lapa Rios reserve helps buffer the Osa Peninsula’s Corcovado National Park—home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity—and serves as a wildlife corridor as well as home to thousands of trees, plants, birds, insects, and mammals in Central America's largest remaining tropical lowland forest.
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