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Canoe & Kayak Magazine editor Jeff Maog kayaks across Costa Rica's Golfo Dulce

Costa Rica is a nation that is renowned for its breath-taking natural landscapes and adventure activities, from zip-lining to boarding down the slopes of volcanoes. Jeff Moag, the Editor In Chief for Canoe & Kayak Magazine, recently visited the Central American country to take to the waters of the Pacific Coast by sea kayak to discover its natural delights from a different angle.

Canoe & Kayak Magazine editor Jeff Maog kayaks across Costa Rica's Golfo Dulce

Costa Rica is famous for its lush green jungles and rainforests, soaring volcanoes, and two coastlines that face the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Editor in Chief for Canoe & Kayak Magazine, Jeff Moag, recently visited the Central American country to discover its nature and wildlife by sea kayak.

Jeff started his journey on the outskirts of the capital San Jose where he and his group set off on day-long drive south along the Pacific coast, passing jungle rivers with large crocodiles, along the way. Their destination for the sea kayaking expedition was the Golfo Dulce (sweet gulf) where the gulf and the Osa Peninsula meet, and described by National Geographic as the “world’s largest tropical fjord”.

The group and their guides set up camp overnight on a white sandy beach named Playa Blanca, and the next morning they headed off on sea kayaks, with two inflatable paddle boards in tow. The route involved travelling north along thick forested shorelines to the upper parts of the gulf, then south to the mainland coast, and finally west across the open gulf to the Osa Peninsula.

During the first leg of the journey, the group kayaked through lush estuaries teeming with tropical wildlife such as scarlet macaws, frigate birds, and howler monkeys, then onto a jungle river under cypress trees and deep into a rainforest. Their guide Matias, leads them back to the open water and then to the shoreline where they embarked on the small jungle-fringed beach in a deep cove. On the beach, rustic cabins made out of bamboo and lumber in the El Chontal, eco-lodge awaited them, along with freshwater showers and a garden full of tropical flowers and fauna.

The following morning, many of the kayaking team take part in a special yoga session led by one of the group members in an open-air pavilion. A local naturalist tells them about the area’s beautiful and diverse wildlife including whales, dolphins and sea turtles that are often found in the Golfo Dulce. He leads the group on a walk up a steep hillside into the rainforest where he points out the native species of insects, plants and birds. With more than 124 species of indigenous mammals 375 types of birds, 46 amphibians, and more than 8,000 insect species, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

The group head off on their next sea kayaking adventure southwards along the mainland coast, weaving through the Mogos Islands, and passing dense mangrove rivers. They stayed overnight in the rainforest in Saladero, an eco-campsite with traditional lodges built by local craftsmen from sustainable materials.

After a restful night of music, yoga, and paddle barding under the stars, the next morning, Jeff and his group headed off on the final 18-kilometer kayak trip back across the open gulf to Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula where they were treated to calm waters and a light breeze as they paddled their way to their final destination.

The Osa Peninsula is one of Costa Rica’s most spectacular points with rugged coastline; pristine, deserted beaches; dense green jungles; and the Corcovado National Park where visitors will see hundreds of colourful wildlife species. The peninsula is the perfect place to watch dolphins and whales, and there a several eco-lodges for kayakers, hikers, and nature-lovers.

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