Introducing La Palma to Puerto Jiménez
Heading south from La Palma, the gravel road passes through a series of small towns (‘small’, meaning you might not realize it’s a town). The surrounding plains are speckled with family farms and tall palms and not much else.
About 8km south of La Palma, the Tico-run Köbö Farm (351 8576; www.kobofarm.com; 3-hr tour in Spanish/English US$20/30) is a chocolate-lover’s dream come true. In fact, köbö means ‘dream’ in Guaymí. The 50-hectare finca is dedicated to organic cultivation of fruits and vegetables and – the product of choice – cacao. Tours give a comprehensive overview of the life cycle of cacao plants and the production of chocolate (with dégustation!). To really experience life on the farm, you can stay in simple, comfortable teak cabins (r per person US$11-15, meals US$6-8).
About 21km south of La Palma (4km north of Puerto Jiménez), a right turn leads 8km to Dos Brazos, formerly a gold-mining town. This place has a colorful history: apparently in its heyday, its population grew exponentially, as gold diggers came seeking their fortune. Some locals still pan for gold with a sluice; the Bosqué del Río Tigre offers tours to show you how its done (and yes, you might be lucky enough to take home a nugget or two).
Dos Brazos is in the midst of the Reserva Forestal Golfo Dulce, a protected area that provides an important buffer zone around Parque Nacional Corcovado. (Incidentally, it’s also possible to access Corcovado through the forest reserve.) As in the national park, the birding is excellent in this area. Keel-billed toucan and scarlet macaw are guaranteed; birders have reported lesser-known but equally exotic species such as blue-hooded parrot, brown-billed scythebill, cedar waxwing and wattled jacana. The Bosqué del Río Tigre offers highly recommended half-/full-day birding tours in the river valley for US$25/40 per person.
Just before entering Puerto Jiménez, a turn-off in the road leads 16km to the hamlet of Río Nuevo, also in the forest reserve. A good trail network leads to spectacular mountain viewpoints, some with views of the gulf. Again, birding is excellent in this area: visitors can expect to see the many species they would find in Corcovado. Cacique Tours offers a day-long excursion in this area.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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