Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge
Eco Luxury in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
With no roads, no airport, and the nearest town two hours away by boat, Corcovado National Park is about as “away from it all” as you can get in Costa Rica. Located on the park’s border, Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge is as close as you can get to staying in Corcovado without having to sleep in a tent on a ranger station’s porch, surrounded by strangers in extremely close proximity. It’s also one of a very few eco-resorts to have earned the 5-Leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certification For Sustainable Tourism.
Sunset Over Caño Island from Casa Corcovado
Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge History
The lodge’s roots can be traced back to 1974, when Chicago-bred owner Steven Lill came to Costa Rica with his best friend as a backpacker during a semester off from college. The buddies ran into a Tico who was selling property on the Osa Peninsula, which at that time was still an untouched Eden. There was no national park yet (Corcovado was founded in 1975), no tourists, and no local communities to speak of. Within a year, the two 23-year-olds had relocated to Costa Rica, initially trying their hands at subsistence farming and growing cacao.
A Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan on the Casa Corcovado Grounds
For 20 years Lill kept his land as a pristine 170-acre nature preserve, located within walking distance from Corcovado’s San Pedrillo Ranger Station. In 1994 he opened Casa Corcovado as an eco resort, providing nature lovers with the luxurious comforts of hot meals, hot showers and cozy beds at the end of a long day’s hike. But it wasn’t easy: From the massive wooden beams of the ceilings to the tiles on the floors, everything had to be brought in by boat and hauled by tractor up the steep incline from the beach to the scenic hilltop upon which the lodge’s 14 bungalows sit.
Our Bungalow at Casa Corcovado
Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge Amenities
That fact is even more impressive when you consider the array of amenities this remote, sustainable eco-lodge has to offer. There’s a gorgeous Spanish Hacienda-style restaurant (where they serve breakfast and dinner) with windows on all sides and a waterfall in the center; an outdoor bar/lounge (where they serve lunch); a full-size swimming pool as well as a smaller, hidden pool fed by a natural spring; a game room with bumper pool table, card table, and myriad board games; a guide house where guests are outfitted with gear for various hiking excursions; a reception office with a business center and small gift shop; and a margarita bar, which offers exceptional views of the sun setting over nearby Caño Island.
Inside Our Bungalow
The 14 bungalows are expansive, yet spread apart and tucked away in a lush tropical garden full of flowers (Heliconia, Red Ginger, Orchids and more), which gives them a very private, secluded feel. The hammock on our screened-in porch immediately became Mary’s favorite afternoon siesta spot, while the slat windows and overhead fan made the Queen-sized bed comfortable even at midday. But my favorite feature was the beautifully tiled outdoor shower, from which you could listen to the sounds of Toucans, Scarlet Macaws and Howler Monkeys in the jungle as you scrubbed away the sweat from a day of hiking in Corcovado National Park.
A Flowering Red Ginger in the Casa Corcovado Garden
Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge Sustainability Initiatives
Lill and son Steven Watson (recently named Casa Corcovado’s manager) have long been passionate about responsible tourism. Their prestigious 5-Leaf rating from Costa Rica’s Certificate for Sustainable Tourism is the result of extensive eco-initiatives that encompass every aspect of the business. These include a solar electric system using photovoltaic panels, a hydroelectric “Pelton Wheel” turbine, a hybrid solar convection for creating hot water, an electric (rather than gas-powered) generator, and a wastewater management approach that includes nine septic tank systems. Their entire staff is made up of local Ticos who live on the property, and they also financed the building of a recycling center in Sierpe, where the hotels and homes in the area can recycle materials (with proceeds benefitting the local high school).
Giant Toad (a.k.a. Cane Toad) at Casa Corcovado
Lill has also proven an outspoken proponent for ecotourism and conservation outside of his own property, butting heads with pro-logging, hunting and mining factions numerous times over the years. He’s the co-founder and president of the non-profit Corcovado Foundation, which works with other lodges, locals and conservation organizations on 12 different programs in the Osa Peninsula, providing education, research and preservation of the area’s natural resources. Working with his son, he’s also developing Claro Del Bosque, an organic farming initiative designed to make Casa Corcovado more eco-friendly by lowering the carbon emissions required to import food.
The Pool at Casa Corcovado
For me, the most impressive thing about Casa Corcovado Jungle Lodge is that it proves you don’t have to sacrifice comfort in the name of traveling responsibly and sustainably. This is a true luxury eco-resort in every sense, fulfilling the visionary dream Steven Lill has been building and nurturing for 40 years now. We didn’t want to leave… –Bret Love; photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett
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