Playa Blanca at Golfo Dulce

Jan 07, 2020 - National Geographic Quest

On our second day onboard National Geographic Quest we stopped at Golfo Dulce to learn how the communities in this region work to protect the surrounding rainforest. Today we visit Corcovado National Forest, where the people here used to cut trees, hunt, and mine for gold. After the national park was created, however, practices have changed, and for the better.

Sustainable tourism is the engine to move the local economy, and we had the great chance to learn from these people what they do for living. Keeping with Lindblad’s philosophy, it is also very important to hire local guides, like those who today awaited our arrival to the beach for a host of different activities to explore this pristine area.

In the morning we hiked through a private reserve known as Danta Lodge, we spotted two-toed sloths, agoutis, and birds including the black-throated trogon, bananaquits, rufous-tailed hummingbirds, and bronze-billed hermits.

Returning to the beach, the ship crew had an outstanding lunch prepared while a youth group from the local school performed for our guests.

In the afternoon, we bused for the better part of an hour through countryside to reach Rancho Quemado, which locals consider the heart of Corcovado, where we met Don Juan and his wife to learn about traditional gold panning methods and how difficult is to retrieve gold from the river. On our departure we happened across a puma footprint, after which Don Juan informed the group that he actually heard the puma’s presence last night – an apt reminder of how just well preserved the rainforest in this area really is.

Afterward, we visited another family. A man with a white hat and an inviting smile greeted us with “bievenidos.” Johnny is the parish priest and operator of the local sugar cane plantation. He shows us the methods of making molasses for a living – a sweet ending to a sweet day exploring Costa Rica.

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About the Author

Joshua Hall


Joshua Hall was born in Panama City and raised in the highlands of the Chiriquí province.  He studied ecotourism at a university in Panama and is currently pursuing a degree in tourism business administration.  His love of nature can be attributed to a lot of time spent traveling with his mother, a nurse at the Social Security Hospital.  In 1983, a foundation called Abundant Life was created in Panama.  The foundation was made up of a group of doctors and nurses with a passion for helping those in need.  They were pioneers in going to communities in Chiriquí, sometimes hiking more than 12 miles, where they took medicine, meals, and other needed items, often opening up trails guided by the indigenous residents.  Joshua participated as a child with his mother and developed a love for nature, rainforests, mangroves, coral reefs and the indigenous communities of Panama.

About the Videographer

Eric Barnes

Video Chronicler

Eric is a native of Southern California and has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember.  He made a career as a news photographer, working for local and national news agencies.  As a photojournalist, Eric has documented some of the most important news events both nationally and around the world.  He has covered everything from the tsunami in Thailand to the war in Afghanistan and countless other compelling stories.

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