"With ecotourism oh-so-Disney now, you have to go pretty far to have the rain forest to yourself. Getting to the untouched Osa Peninsula is half the adventure- it includes a short plane ride from San Jose and a bumpy drive with rivers to ford. But, oh, the rewards: you might spot a wildcat or Baird's tapir."
"Journey to Paradise"
We cross stream after stream, bumping over this dirt road for two hours, and then we ascend so steeply that the driver has to use four-wheel drive, the engine grinding up a last grade and coming to a stop in front of a thatch-roofed palapa, where a man stands at the car window holding a glass of ice water. Everything bustles now. People scoop up our luggage, the sound of Spanish cuts across the cicadas' call, and then a pair of wide blue eyes appears before me, along with chiseled cheekbones and a lustrous smile- Lana Wedmore welcomes us to the Luna Lodge. She is far from what I expected, this woman with the bright face and a flowery sundress. I soon learn that she is a small-town Colorado girl who grew up ski racing in the Rocky Mountains. Now, oddly, she's here, and when she leads us into the main palapa, the forest's wildness slips away. It feels like a cathedral, with a high grass ceiling and long pole beams, a shiny wooden deck, and in the distance, beyond the top of the forest canopy, the shimmering blue Pacific.
"25 Great Ecolodges"
From Alaska to the Australian outback, these innovative retreats are committed
to conservation- with the added value of cultural sensitivity, isolation,
and, of course, style. Being green has never been so appealing.
25 Great Ecolodges Wildlife Wonders places where the primary emphasis
is on protecting and conserving the flora and fauna (#12 Luna Lodge,
THE SETTING Teetering over the virgin Osa Peninsula rain forest.
GREEEN FACTOR: Owned by American expatriate Lana Wedmore, Luna has all the emerald-legged, furry-tailed, ruffle-feathered wildlife thrills - without the mania of toucan cams and laser-lizard-fingers. Prepare to share a trail with sloths, tapirs, kinkajous, anteaters, spider monkeys, and the occasional jaguar. Not natural enough? The eight stylish bungalows all have private tropical gardens.
"Room With a View - Luna Lodge - Cabin One"
Paradise can be a noisy place, as guests soon discover at Luna Lodge, a seven-bungalow retreat on Costa Rica's remote Osa Peninsula. While sitting on your tropical hardwood deck, in pristine rainforest, part of 60 acres of wilderness in the Gulfo Dulce Reserve, the rustling of branches may well signify the imminent arrival of a troop of howler monkeys swinging through the canopy. You may also be visited by one of numerous breeds of frog (poison-arrow or brilliant forest perhaps), or see a flock of rare scarlet-thighed dacnis (there are some 400 bird species in the reserve).
At night, you can hear the rumble of five nearby waterfalls and, sometimes, the Pacific Ocean as it crashes on the shore two kilometers away. The simple wooden cabins are built into the side of the Carate River Valley, and guests wake up to the intoxicating scent of ylang-ylang, frangipani, and jasmine, carried by a continuous light breeze which helps keep insects at bay. The lodge has an organic farm, and from Cabin One it is possible to see fruit trees in the garden and jungle beyond, including mango, papaya, china fruit, mandarin orange, lemon, cacao, and banana. Two hills in the distance mark the beginning of the Corcovado National Park. Parts of the park were threatened by a gold rush in the 1970s, and its fragile ecosystem only began to recover when mining was banned in 1986. Today, the park is completely rejuvenated and provides a home to hundreds of endangered species, including jaguar, puma, crocodiles, and the harpy eagle.
"Room With a View"
Early risers will awaken to the symphony of some 400 bird species emanating from the leafy canopy below. Like them, your bungalow has an expansive bird's-eye view of Corcovado National Park, whose lush rain forest ranks as one of the most biologically diverse place on earth. A naturalist's dream, the park is a protected home to a veritable encyclopedia of flora and fauna, among them 6,000 kinds of insects and one-quarter of all the tree species in Costa Rica- and that's only what has been recorded thus far, since the area, located at the Osa Peninsula's southwestern tip, was first recognized for its resources in the 1960s. After Corcovado was established in 1975, a gold rush resulted in damage to the forest and loss of the wildlife residing in it; ten years later, mining was prohibited. Today, on one of Luna Lodge's guided tours, you can pan for gold in streams along the old trails that cross the peninsula- but the payoff from the trek will more likely be experiential than economic.
Excerpt from Travel Holiday - September 2000
"Me Costa Rica, You Jane"
Lana Wedmore aims her flashlight at the heavens and traces the archer's belt. We're on the deck of her tiny Luna Lodge, on a hilltop between the Pacific Ocean and Corcovado National Park, the deep forest reserve that sits on the Osa Peninsula at Costa Rica's southern tip.
The jungle night rustles. There's noise in this darkness and waves crash in the distance. But nothing human. Wedmore outlines the constellation of Orion.
"There," she says, using the beam like a pointer, cutting a curve in the sky. "His bow."
...five attractive bungalows, two comfy beds apiece, and decks with views of the Pacific. The ocean stretches indefinitely here, with just a few farms pushing up against the shoreline. Visitors spend their days exploring the park that literally folds around the lodge. On the morning after the star show, Wedmore led me to the waterfall. We pushed through trees thick with bromeliads, draped in hanging vines. As we descended, we heard animal cries: a troop of howler monkeys, shadowing us. A deep valley stretched below, and the animals attempted to cross it, leaping the 30-foot gap in single file, some barely making the far tree.
By the time we arrived at the falls, the morning had turned sticky. We soaked in the cool cascade. Lana explained that her place was once a working farm. The first question you ask on the Osa is where the electricity comes from. Lana gets hers from a diesel generator- she needs it for construction, as there's still one cabin under way. When that's finished, she'll wire the falls fro the modest hydroelectric jolt that's an eco-tourism ideal: power that's virtually invisible, and totally clean.
Excerpt from Red Herring - June 2000
"Remote - Wireless in the rain forest"
After greeting the dawn by performing yoga on a wooden deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean amidst bellowing Howler monkeys, Lana Wedmore climbs a 500-foot grade to a ridge in the Costa Rican rain forest, where she connects to the Internet and downloads her email.
In a location so remote that telephone lines don't exist and communication is limited to short-wave marine radios, Ms. Wedmore uses a Motorola FX2500 (a fixed, 3-watt cellular subscriber unit) to send a receive emails for her business. Ms. Wedmore and her business partner, Esteban Venegas, own and operate Luna Lodge (www.lunalodge.com), an ecotourist resort near the Corcovado National Park on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula. Until recently, they had to drive down a steep, washed-out road to get to Puerto Jiménez, a town two hours away, just to send and receive email.
Connecting from the top of the ridge has been a tremendous improvement for business. Ms. Wedmore exchanges more than 25 emails each week with potential guests.
But an Internet connection in the heart of the jungle is not without risks. Recently, Ms. Wedmore was harassed by a band of disgruntled spider monkeys lurking in the trees above her. "I had to cover my computer because the monkeys were throwing sticks and twigs," says Ms. Wedmore. "It was incredible."