“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love”.- Marcus Aurelius
After my peaceful canoe ride down the Laguna Chocuaco, it was time to leave Rancho Quemado and head to our next adventure in the community of Los Planes. We loaded up our rented SUV and headed northwest towards Drake Bay, the main tourist town in the Osa Peninsula.
The drive was rough and lovely, affording sweeping views of the stunning Drake Bay and the verdant tropical jungle. I was quite thankful we had our heavy duty SUV as there were several river crossings along the way and I cannot imagine how we ever would have made it in a car. Eytan told me that there had been times when he got stuck for hours waiting for the swollen waters to subside enough for him to safely pass and he had even once seen a small bus floating down the river. I definitely didn’t want that to be me!
As we entered the river I held my breath wondering how I’d break the news to my husband that we may have to do this ourselves during our upcoming family trip to Costa Rica in April. Hopefully the roads in northern Costa Rica are a bit better than in the Osa Peninsula.
This afternoon we were headed to a remote, sustainable family-owned ecolodge called Cascada Naguala that is in the middle of the jungle and only accessible via foot across acres of beautiful private land. It had opened up to tourists only a few months ago after a series of tragic losses in the family. The first owner died eight years ago by a fallen tree and his brother took it over only to die in an ATV accident six months ago. Despite the tragedy, his son Eric and lovely wife Francesca reopened the lodge and went into business. We would be their first customers.
We drove about 30 minutes past Drake Bay into the remote region of Los Planes where hardly any tourists ever go. It was isolated, hard to reach yet astonishingly gorgeous. I had found my paradise for the next twenty-four hours and it would be very hard to leave.
After a few harrowing turns, climbing up to the top of the jungle we saw the sign for Cascada Naguala and entered the private drive that would lead us to paradise. We drove down the narrow gravel road until it was too muddy and hilly for us to continue. Alongside the edge of the road, we parked our car, grabbed our backpacks for the night, and set off on foot.
As we walked through the thick jungle, I wondered if we would see any wildlife but all we heard were birds. It was hot, humid and muddy given the recent rains that had poured down on the jungle. Eytan told me how the last time he had been to this lodge, it was pouring rain and thick with mud. I was thankful for the brilliant blue sky and sunshine.
We arrived at Cascada Naguala as promised, roughly thirty minutes later, and I could not believe my eyes. There in the clearing perched high above a roaring waterfall was the lodge and the setting was stunning.
We were greeted with a smile by Eric, dressed in flip-flops and a t-shirt, and his business partner Brian, a Canadian. We were shown around the property and Eric pointed out the new cabins that they were building to host future guests. We also got to check out the brand new yoga platform they constructed directly above one of the property’s waterfalls. The goal is to offer yoga retreats at the lodge and I could hardly think of a more beautiful place to do yoga than here at the Cascada Naguala with the rainforest and waterfalls surrounding you.
We were shown to our cabins that were right in the thick of the jungle reminding me of my earlier stay in the jungle at the Amazonita Lodge. It was so lush and filled with gorgeous tropical flowers and birds.
Brian met Eric and Francesca through word of mouth when he was traveling to the Osa with his cousin and her Costa Rican husband. A fitness guru, Brian was looking for a place to invest in and start a yoga retreat business. Despite speaking very little Spanish, he and Eric sealed a deal and have been working together ever since. The yoga platform will fit 15 delightful yogis and once the new cabins are complete, they will eventually be able to sleep 21. With such a spectacular setting, I can’t imagine a more perfect place to come, meditate and unwind for a week.
After enjoying a fresh cold drink of mango juice, it was time to experience the waterfall. Directly behind the yoga platform lies the Cascada Naguala and you can hear its roar all the way up above in the open-air lodge.
We followed the short, steep path leading down to the falls in anticipation. I could hardly wait to plunge in and take a refreshing waterfall bath.
It was absolute bliss. Here is a short video of what I saw when I reached the end of the stairs (it looks best if you click on the YouTube icon and watch it in a full screen).
While we bathed in the water, a group of about a dozen monkeys appeared high above us in the canopy of trees and put on a show. They were swinging from tree to tree going wild. I marveled at them in awe thinking what a delightful surprise it was to see them. Meanwhile a pair of scarlet macaws flew overhead and I had to pinch myself. Just another day in paradise!
I pondered on the Costa Rican phrase “pura vida” which roughly translates into pure life. I couldn’t think of a more fitting feeling while I sat here enjoying this wondrous moment in time. (To view full screen, click on YouTube icon. Believe me, it is worth it!).
Little did I know, the real surprise was coming tomorrow.