Costa Rica is one of the top eco-tourism destinations in the world. Although the country covers just 19,700 square miles (it’s smaller than West Virginia), it makes up 5 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board. And given the nation’s priorities, it’s likely to stay that way — Costa Rica reserves a quarter of its land for protected parks and conservation areas.
This ethos has been adopted by Drake Bay Getaway Resort, a luxurious nature retreat on the southern Pacific side of Costa Rica’s wild Osa Peninsula that resides in Drake Bay, a small bay and coastal town flush with lush forests and pristine beaches. Ensconced in the jungle, the boutique hotel offers just five stilted cabins as part of its dedication to the preservation of the landscape.
Last year, owners Yens Steller and Patrick Ludwig acquired another 200 acres — the largest titled land in Drake Bay — two miles from the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. Steller and Ludwig plan to protect the new land, dubbing it The Jungle Getaway. Approximately 85 percent of the new property is primary forest (that is, a forest that dates back to ancient times or that’s remained relatively undisturbed by humans) full of plants and animals that you could find at the nearby Corcovado National Park, the famous attraction that boasts the highest concentration of flora and fauna in the country. The Jungle Getaway is full of exotic plants like royal mahogany, cow trees, ceibas, birds of paradise, purple hearts and much more. The verdant surroundings are also home to animals like tapirs, pumas, jaguars and peccaries.
However, the biggest tourist draw for The Jungle Getaway may be its waterfall — at 100 feet, it’s the tallest in the area. Ludwig and Steller recently launched horseback riding and hiking tours to take hotel guests to the waterfall and for nature walks. If you venture out on the new tours, expect unspoiled scenery: the horseback ride to the waterfall winds through a pristine forest (with no road access) and along a river far away from tourists.
“Since we built our hotel in 2014, we have always been interested in sustainable development and preserving the natural habitat in the famous Osa Peninsula,” Ludwig and Steller say. “Since Yens grew up in the area — Drake Bay — he has a deep appreciation for protecting the primary forest, wildlife and marine life in the peninsula.”
According to the owners, since most of the land in Drake Bay is not titled, it’s a challenge to own property in the area. “When a local bank called Yens during the middle of the pandemic in 2020 and offered him to buy the land, he did not hesitate,” they say. The pair snapped it up when the local bank sold it through a blind auction after years of holding onto the titled land.
Previously, Drake Bay Getaway Resort’s most popular private tours were its day hike to Corcovado National Park and a snorkeling trip at Caño Island, but The Jungle Getaway gives them the chance to do more on the property. Ludwig and Steller say that they plan to eventually build trails through the grounds for nature walks and wildlife spotting during the day and night.