Located in the south of Costa Rica, nestled in the remote Piedras Blancas National Park, lies the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge. What makes this lodge and its surrounding 14,000 hectares of primary jungle so important, is that its lush mountains, dense evergreen forests and watersheds situated in the Esquinas and Piedras Blancas rivers, provide the perfect eco-climate for a number of rare tropical trees and endangered species to flourish.
Thanks to essential support and funding from the non-profit charitable organisation, Rainforest of the Austrians (Regenwald der Osterreicher), and generous donations from travellers staying at the lodge, the resilient local workers at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge have successfully protected this natural rainforest reserve against poachers and deforestation, while becoming one of the only lodges in Costa Rica that’s completely 100% carbon neutral.
As a business, we passionately seek to improve life through travel and are proud to be the first ever adventure travel company to bring guests to the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge over 20 years ago, and continue to bring travellers on our Discover Costa Rica adventure. Last year, we marked 50 years of celebrating the modern environmental movement on Earth Day, 22nd April, and we are continuing to shine a particular spotlight on the remarkable sustainable projects the Esquinas Lodge created that effectively saved this spectacular area of primary Costa Rican rainforest.
Back in the early 1990’s, the people of La Gamba saw that the future of Piedras Blancas National Park (which was previously part of the Corcovado National Park) was increasingly threatened by restrictions set up by the Park Service, so a group of local farmers and former lodgers decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of this beautiful forested region being exploited and torn down for commercial reasons, they worked together with the Rainforest of the Austrians to help complete the construction of the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge in 1994, as part of a wider, award-winning environmental project.
Kasia Morgan, our Head of Sustainability and Community at Exodus Travels was quick to comment, “We’re proud to have taken our travellers to the beautiful Esquinas Lodge for over 20 years; their passion for conservation and community empowerment mirrors our own and that of our clients. The inspiring work they do to care for the communities and rainforest around them continues to act as an example for us, providing learnings, practices and ideas we often share across our global community.”
The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge’s gives travellers’ the perfect opportunity to unwind while also discovering untouched sections of primary Costa Rican Rainforest in Piedras Blancas National Park. Not only does the lodge produce their own organic vegetables, fruit and chocolate on site, they use biodegradable products and energy-saving methods in an effort to further minimise their carbon footprint. Visitors can also enjoy the use of their saltwater-based pool, which is an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to chlorine.
Aiming to minimise their impact on the surrounding environment at all costs, sustainable tourism and community development lies at the heart of the Esquinas Rainforest Lodges’ values and philosophy.
Julia Wurth, Manager of Esquinas Rainforest Lodge explains, “I think everybody who works at Esquinas lives, breathes and eats sustainably. To be able to work for a hotel and at the same time support several projects for our community as well as for the environment gives our people a sense of purpose, positivity and pride. The staff at Esquinas feels much more like family than simply a group of people that you work with. We really enjoy spending time together each day, all the while knowing that what we’re doing is making a positive difference to help save our surrounding rainforests.”
This unique eco-lodge set in the rainforest on the periphery of Piedras Blancas National Park just 2 km from La Gamba Village, not only aims to protect the rainforest’s rich areas of biodiversity, but also has single-handedly created a number of sustainable projects including tree planting to help remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Visitors at the Esquinas Lodge can purchase an “Adopt-a-Tree” certificate. These generous donations are given to La Gamba Field Station and research institution, to help plant trees and purchase land. Regaining land in this area is essential for wildlife and ecosystems to thrive as it helps to reconnect the lowland rainforests of the Golfo Dulce region with the upland rainforest of the Fila Cal mountain range, which is exactly what the La Gamba Biological Corridor (COBIGA) project is trying to achieve.
The reason behind why this piece of land is called the” biological corridor” is because of its abundancy of wildlife. Hidden between the Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks, lies a 300 square mile protected zone, called “The Osa” that’s simply brimming with biodiversity.
Home to more than 124 mammals, 40 species of freshwater fish, 375 species of birds and approximately 117 different kinds of reptiles and amphibians, The Osa represents up to 50% of species that are known to exist in the whole of Costa Rica. And today, thanks to the hard-working lodge staff and the COBIGA project, most can be found wandering through the surrounding forests of Esquinas Rainforest Lodge.
Over the decades, this prime piece of jungle was at risk, being replaced with pastures for meat production and exporting of bananas and pineapple crops, at the expense of biodiversity. But, thanks to the help of the lodge and their travellers, three farms have been reforested by planting 20,000 trees from 100 different species. The Esquinas Rainforest Lodge has also personally donated more than $80,000 to the COBIGA project, enabling the planting of around 4,000 trees in an effort to reduce its low residual CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. But their reach doesn’t stop there.
The lodge is also integrally connected with the people of La Gamba, employing all of their workers locally and reinvesting the profits they’ve made at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge back into community.
They’ve effectively helped to raise the living standards of La Gamba, by contributing more than $200,000 for community-based projects, including renovating La Gamba’s water system, community town hall and schools, as well as the construction of a playground and police station.
When asked what’s next for Esquinas, Manager, Julia was quick to comment, “Due to this recent global crisis, it’s more important than ever before that we use our reserves to help our colleagues and community during this unprecedented time. The lodge is setting up essential food donations to help the people of La Gamba next month, as we’re finding many families currently have no source of income and no savings, which leaves them in desperate need of help.”
So, there you have it. The sheer compassion, determination and will power of just 15 people working at the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge, who initially set out to save a section of the rainforest, ended up protecting acres of primary Costa Rican jungle, the unique wildlife brimming inside it and everyone in the community of La Gamba. We couldn’t be more humbled to show our travellers’ the momentous steps they’ve achieved towards a more sustainable world.
If this has inspired you to book a unique stay at the sustainable Esquinas Rainforest Lodge on our Discover Costa Rica Exodus trip clip, then click here.