Golfo Dulce, Casa Orquidea and Golfito

Dec 11, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

What an incredible way to end our days in Costa Rica. For two days, we have explored the inner side of the Osa Peninsula, the Golfo Dulce or Sweet Gulf; and today we finish the first half of the trip on the eastern side of the gulf. We checked out two places: Casa Orquidea Botanical Garden and the mangrove/beachside area of Golfito.

About 40 years ago, a young couple, the MacAlllisters, decided to sell all of their belongings and head south. The area of Golfito is as far south as they got; armed with a strong sense of adventure, they began their life in the tropics in what was once a failed cacao plantation. With their own hands, they planted what is now a phenomenal botanical garden that is so much more than only that. Flowers, insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals were in store for us at the gardens. Coatis, agoutis, scarlet macaws and toucans, leaf cutter ants, dragonfly, basilisks, heliconias, and strangler figs are just a few of the organisms we saw in less than two hours in the garden. We have always wondered if we could do what they have done; come live in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the forest far away from everything and everyone that is familiar?

Later in the day, after lunch and after onboard must-haves, we had the chance to explore the gulf via kayak or Zodiac. Out we went on our faithful vessels, onto the fine sand beach to put our strength to the test. Some others chose the other option, a Zodiac ride with one of the naturalists to try to find wildlife and to enjoy the amazing scenery of the mountains surrounding the gulf.  Once again, nature delivered. Spotted during our outings were three troops of howler monkeys, terns, pelicans, egrets, ibis, herons, and even a sea turtle. 

Thus ended our last day in Costa Rica, with great memories and a wonderful sunset full of colors and impressions. 

  • Send

About the Author

Isabel Salas Vindas


Isa Salas is a Costa Rica born biologist, who loves her country and teaching about it.  Known for her professionalism and experience in the field of animal behavior, Isa earned her master's degree in biology from the University of Costa Rica, where she also engaged in research for the chemistry and biology departments. Isa has carried out specialized projects on mantled howler monkeys for Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), and is one of the country’s experts on howler monkey sexual and social behavior. 

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy