Playa Blanca, Rancho Quemado y La Palma

Dec 20, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

This morning the magnificent Golfo Dulce – Sweet Gulf – welcomed us into its cultural wonders.  Our plans this morning include leaving the ship and not returning until the very late afternoon.  Today is our day to explore the Costa Rican countryside and meet its people.  Four options were available for us to choose from. 

The first one, Finca KOBO, is run by Alex and his family, this farm is their dream. This type of project in Costa Rica is known as “Rural Community Agrotourism,” and in the case of Alex’s project, it is also an organic farm.   

Doña Eida and her sister in law, Yorleny, started our second option of the day, called Finca Las Jacanas, in order to support their families.  Also considered an agrotourism project, this farm is one of the last remaining hearts of palm production farms in the Southernmost Osa Peninsula. 

The third option was a visit to the area of Rancho Quemado, 40 minutes away from the beach landing.  This option is a combo of two sites. First, the gold panning project Finca Las Minas, run by a family whose father used to work for the “Osa Gold Company” that extracted gold out of the local rivers.  Later, he changed gears and decided to create a learning project to teach people of the old mining ways.  The second excursion from here was the “trapiche,” or sugar cane mill.  The “Trapiche Don Carmen” is the project of a family that decided to try to rescue the tradition of making sugarcane sweets, patties, and molasses.  Three generations of them are running the newly recovered business.

Our fourth choice was another family run farm, which offered hiking and wildlife watching – with amazing wildlife sightings – Danta Corcovado Lodge.  Finally, for those who decided one option was enough, staying at the beach in the morning or afternoon was an option too.

Back onboard with stories of people, homes, family traditions and heirlooms, beach time, scarlet macaws, tropical dances, a beach buffet, and many more memories that will last us a lifetime.  

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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.

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