My husband and I have been to Costa Rica previously. This was our first trip to the Osa . We love hiking, wildlife, photography, and adventure. We have values in conservation of intact natural areas and seek places that are embracing "sustainabilility" practices. We do not speak Spanish, but I know a few phrases, and I used my phrasebook constantly to learn more. This was sufficient and really helped in some situations, such as when we had to go to a pharmacy in Santo Domingo. I highly recommend making the effort to learn a bit of Spanish, as it will simply make some situations go more smoothly. It is not necessary, but is a good opportunity.
We initially stayed overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo (part of San Jose MSA) to make our connecting flight the following day to the Osa. We HIGHLY recommend this place particularly if you love gardens. It was easy to catch a taxi to and from the airport. We've been to San Jose on a previous trip and spent some time there, so didn't feel the need to get into the city.
We love Gabby in El Remanso's booking office in Puerto Jimenez. She is efficient, generous and cooperative. We had a travel document crisis and had to change our travel dates. She efficiently rescheduled us. When she met us at the airstrip in Puerto Jimenez, we hugged her! That was the start to our fantastic experience. Gracias, Gabby!
Jose, "El Ojo", drove us to El Remanso on a rocky road. Along the way, he spotted many animals and pointed them out to us. He showed us a sloth that was descending from a tree to do his weekly business. We all just stopped and watched. We had no idea, until later, how special this was. If you go, pay attention to what Jose is showing you. Gracias, Jose!
At the resort, Rolbim (sp?), met us with a fruit/tea concoction, and our personal "cruise director", Tamar, gave us a briefing of how things work at El Remanso, and our itinerary for the week. Throughout the week she checked in on us, as did the on-site manager, Sylvia. Both were attentive, helpful and friendly.
We stayed for an entire week, Monday to Monday. We had the active package. This included multiple hikes with both guides, Gerardo and Renaldo, bird watching, waterfall repelling, and horse back riding. The short zip line to the breakfast platform was not in operation while we were there. We took advantage of the large, group size yoga platform and did yoga a few times. All hikes were wonderful. The guides were fantastic. Gerardo was our guide for the waterfall rappelling, which we had not done previously. I was nervous and shaky for the first descent, and I told him so. He was extremely patient, cautious, and the whole thing was really terrific. His assistant, Pocho, was also really helpful. I highly recommend the repelling. Keen sandals or those new toe shoes are perfect for the rappelling. It's a good idea to keep your toes covered. The hikes were amazing. We saw many things, including Fer de lance. We were never in danger, but I recommend wearing closed shoes as there is debris, ants, etc. If you do the river walk, definitely use their rubber boots and hiking sticks. I recommend exploring the beach and the tide pools, being sure to understand the tidal period when the tide pools are exposed. The return hike up from the beach is a workout, even for the fit. For horse back riding we were shuttled to a private horse owner. The trail was very muddy through the jungle and then opened to a beach with another area of tide pools, even more spectacular than those at El Remanso. On the beach, we were able to run the horses. Don't wear a shirt that you care about on the ride. The mud will splash up all over you and ruin light colored clothing. The horses were fun! Gracias Gerardo, Renaldo, Rolbim II, Tamar and Pia for exciting, educational, and fun outdoor activities!
We stayed in the La Guinda cabin. This cabin is perfectly simple and looks out directly over the rainforest to the Pacific. It's cleaned daily with fresh towels, and has flushing toilets, and a warm shower if desired. Biodegradable, all natural, Osa-made body wash, shampoo, and lotion are provided. We have no complaints about the cabin. It is warm and humid at night, and you will appreciate the ceiling fan. I recommend ear plugs if you are a light sleeper to dampen the outside noises of the waves crashing down on the beach and the insects, birds, monkeys etc. A flashlight or headlamp is definitely recommended for walking to and from the dining area to the cabin after dark. There are many steps.
The food was hearty, fresh and abundant. The dining area/bar looks out over the jungle. The staff are attentive and kind. We asked to set up a special occasion one night, for other guests that we had met, and the staff fully accommodated us with champagne, a special table, etc.
We also had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from the manager about the El Remanso sustainability practices, and we were quite impressed. If you are interested, be sure to ask. They are happy to share what they are doing to reduce their impact and protect what they have. Additionally, they are sponsoring two interns currently from Denmark, interested in sustainable hotels and tourism. Pia and Kris were a part of the staff and also a delight to talk to. Everyone with the El Remanso shirt was very friendly and attentive to guests. I left feeling as if I had a new family.
I could go on and on about our amazing experiences and tell stories all day. El Remanso may not be for every single person. The beach is not a swimming beach if you are hoping for time in the ocean, and the hike up from the beach is somewhat of a challenge. It is warm and humid, and it does rain intermittently. But all that said, I will continue gushing about our experience. We saw an incredible diversity of wildlife. We really liked the people who worked at El Remanso and their mission of sustainability. We found that we didn't lose much comfort to dramatically lower our travel impact, which made us feel really good. Thanks to all - Sylvia, Gerardo, Renaldo, Jaro, Sergio, Rolbim, Jesse, Tamar, Pia, Kris, Jose, Bert, Pocho, Gabby, the cooks, the gardeners, and everyone we didn't have a chance to meet, or people whose names I can't remember or spell :). I hope we can return someday. Pura Vida!!!!!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.