It was first in 1969 when Walter flew over this huge area of dense forests which merged into the turquoise-blue colour of the Pacific Ocean; he instantly fell in love with this beautiful scenery. At that time the Osa Peninsula was the most remote area of the country with no public road access.
As a commercial pilot Walter Morales transported locally produced goods like meat, cheese, rice and beans from Rio Oro, Carate and Sirena to Golfito and on his way back brought gasoline, beer, coco cola and other daily goods for the local store of Félix Abellán who also owned huge parts of land in the area. The years passed by until he came back to Puerto Jimenez in 1976 where shortly after he got to know Salma Polanco.
He again met several families of the about 200 people who had lived in the area of today’s Sirena Ranger station before. In the meantime they had been resettled by a government decree to a village close to Puerto Jimenez which was necessary for the foundation of the Corcovado National Park. And it were these people who told Walter about the incredible rich biodiversity of the Corcovado area which then became national park.
The idea came to Walters’s mind of developing an ecotourism project in this marvelous nature he had seen years ago by himself. Tourism was new in this area; nobody had developed anything similar before. In the following Salma and Walter calculated possible risks and legal procedures for the realization of their dream: an eco lodge in Carate where they had bought a piece of land neighbouring Corcovado. They dedicated this land of almost 200 hectares as a family property. Later they started constructing the eco lodge and named it ‘La Leona’ after a creek combining their property with the Corcovado National Park.
The couple was a pioneer by turning the ecotourism project into practice in this still incredible remote area; and by protecting the nature of this property they also conserved part of one of the most biological intense places in the world: the Osa Peninsula.