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Hidden at the edge of lush tropical secondary rainforest, on a secluded stretch of sand on the Golfo Dulce, sits the Iguana Lodge. A beautifully handcrafted jungle eco-lodge, the Iguana is an exotic, magical place set smack-dab in the middle of one of the most biologically diverse environments on earth.

The owners, ex-pats from Denver, Colorado, live 30 feet up in the air in a 2,500 square foot treehouse built into in a massive native hardwood tree. The entire property is remarkable—a small grouping of immaculately clean bungalows amidst the rainforest are intertwined with manicured connecting paths leading to the beach, bar, restaurant, main lodge, Japanese hot bath or off into any direction for exploring the ripe green flora and fauna. The close contact with nature is truly amazing.

After waking in the early morning to the eerie shrieks of howler monkeys, my wife and I sat for coffee on our veranda while troops of white-faced capuchin monkeys cavorted around our bungalow, dropping slowly down to our railing barely five feet away to eat bananas we tossed to them. After breakfast, we moseyed down to the private secluded beach, just 200 feet from our room, and watched as sea turtles hatched in the sand and struggled to crawl the 30 yards into the ocean. It was utterly fascinating to observe this event. My wife and I did pick up a few stragglers and hand-delivered them into the water before watching them swim away.  

Iguana Lodge is a bird watcher’s paradise. In a single, easy paced walk through the jungle you can spot hundreds of colorful native birds as well as three-toed sloths, leafcutter ants, boa constrictors, you name it. This area is teeming with wildlife. The water is just as full of life: if you’re lucky, you may get to snorkel alongside a monster whale shark, as they are known to swim just off the beach.

We hired an English-speaking guide from the lodge, Juan Carlos, who took us alone into the Golfo Dulce in a 23-foot powerboat in search of wild spinner dolphins. After an hour or so of searching in the open ocean, we found a huge pod with at least 120 frolicking dolphins. Quickly, we scrambled over the side and Juan Carlos threw us a tow line. We were equipped with swim masks and as he slowly towed us through the water, to our amazement, hundreds of wild spinners at least ten feet long swam right up next to us. They were so close, I could nearly touch them. They seemed as curious about us as we were about them. After 45 minutes, the pod left the area. We found a quiet spot to snorkel and then had lunch on the boat. Total cost for this daylong unbelievable experience—$45 per person!

If you want to enjoy a very affordable adventurous vacation that has exotic animals, beautiful scenery, perfect weather, is safe, has clean water, hot showers, nice rooms and friendly staff—this is it!

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