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“Absolutely AMAZING Experirnce - A MUST do in Costa Rica” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve

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Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve
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Horquetas 1000, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Toronto, ON
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Absolutely AMAZING Experirnce - A MUST do in Costa Rica”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 16, 2008

We stayed here for 2 days in May and we couldn't have had a better time. It all starts with a ~4 hour tractor ride from the small town where the head office is located to Rara, which is about 15km into the jungle. The first couple hours you ride on the very bumpy road through the outskirts of the jungle, then the last 1-2 hours are spent inside the jungle through the mud and rock. There are some sections where you wonder how the tractor can possible make it through. The tractor ride is fun at first, but by the 3rd or 4th hour your butt starts to hurt and you are tired from supporting yourself.

The accommodations at Rara are wonderful. We stayed in the Waterfall Lodge which has 8 private rooms. The rooms were as good as you get when staying in a jungle, don't expect 4* rooms. They are definitely rustic, but very nice. The showers were amazing. It was the only place in Costa Rica where we had a true hot shower with lots of pressure.

Your meals are included in the price of accommodation and are served 3 times a day and is made by a cook on staff. You are treated to traditional Costa Rican cuisine...and lots of it. You will definitely get stuffed. We actually found that we were eating too much as by the end of the 2nd day we just weren't as hungry as when we first came.

The guides take you on a tour of the jungle and explain the wildlife and give all other information. Don't expect to see much wildlife however. We saw more wildlife on the side of the highways in CR than we did at Rara. It's all about the experience. It typically rains every day, and a lot (May is the beginning of the rainy season) so you will usually hike in the morning, then rest after lunch while it rains, and then hike after dinner.

Highly recommended to anyone up for the experience. But please, do not go here if you expect a nice resort. It is rustic in every sense...You must wear rain boots (which are provided) at all times, and there can be many bugs, and there are lots of noises throughout the night. You are truly in the middle of a jungle.

  • Liked — Hot powerful showers
  • Disliked — Can get buggy
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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50 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Wexford, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2008

i traveled with a group and we stayed two nights at rara avis lodge. The staff were great and really friendly. beverages are always available and meals were served family style and were pretty good. there is no electricity in the rooms but they give you a lantern. the rooms were clean and screened. one of the only places in costa rica where you can actually flush your toilet paper.

You can take guided walks in the jungle or wander around on your own. There are two waterfalls you can swim in. chilly but great fun.

Prepare for the tractor ride from h*ll. its like two or three hours and its totally insane. take your dramamine and hang on. we were laughing hysterically. On the ride out two puppies followed us too far so we had to put them on the wagon with us so they could go back on the next trip. they were adorable.

  • Liked — your in the jungle baby
  • Disliked — lots of rain duh rainforest
  • Stayed May 2008
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2008

Rara Avis was one of the most interesting and unusual places we have every been. We wanted a remote jungle adventure and we definitely got it! The three hour tractor ride is as uncomforatable as everyone says, but how else would you get 15 kilometers into the jungle?

The whole attitude and approach to Rara Avis is unlike any other jungle adventure. They know that it is muddy, rainy, and somewhat uncomfortable and they don't try to apologize for it. That is part of the charm and fascination of the place.

We arrived at the requested hour of 8:30 am for our tractor ride only to find that the tractor was stuck in the mud and was running almost two hours late. We took the time to go to a local restaurant for breakfast where we watched beautiful, exotic birds at the bird feeder.

When we finally were on our way, the tractor broke down about half way. It took four men laying under the tractor in the mud for almost a half an hour to fix it. But, no worry. We were in the jungle and that is life in this far away place.

We arrived after 2 pm and ate a delicious lunch and went up to our room. It was small, dark and damp with very thin mattresses and very very flimsy towels. But we didn't expect more, because we were far out in a remote jungle paradise. We were surrounded by the most beautiful, exotic, thick lush vegetation. It rained and rained and rained, but we still loved every second.

Our guide, Wilberth was fascinating and charming. He wasn't slick or polished, but he knew his way around and could find tiny frogs hidden deep in the bromeliads. He led us around through thick mud in the pouring rain and went swimming with our kids in the waterfall swimming hole.

Rara Avis is definitely not for everyone. It is rough, rugged, wet and muddy but it is one of the most peaceful, fascinating places you will ever get to.

  • Liked — it was an interesting remote jungle
  • Stayed April 2008, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
kansas city
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 22, 2008

We traveled to Rara Avis several months ago and had a wonderful time. We also went to several other places in Costa Rica and enjoyed those as well. However, we thought Rara Avis was the most unique. We loved the tractor ride, even though it broke down, it did give us a chance to hike on our own. Our guide was amazing and was by far the best we have had in all of our travels. We saw many reptiles that we had never seen before and were amazed. We have so many great pictures of frogs and snakes. The terrain was a little more difficult than in other areas that we had been to. I think this was largely due to the amount of rain. The waterfalls at this lodge are really beautiful.

As far as the food and lodging are concerned.... We loved the food, thought it was amazing that they were able to fix such great meals in the middle of nowhere. The food was better than other remote jungle lodges we have been to. We stayed in the River's Edge Cabin and would probably not do that again. The cabin was nice but at the end of a long hike and or a long day it is a bit of a hike just to get to your room. I found myself dreading the hike to the room about 10 minutes before finishing the hike in the jungle. However, if you are ok with that it is very scenic and private. The rooms are rustic but comfortable and this is exactly what I would expect in a place like this. One quick note, I probably would not reccomend this place for children under 8 but we can't wait to return!!

  • Stayed September 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lincoln, Nebraska
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2007

Rara Avis is a fabulous jungle adventure, a tranquil escape from the rat race, and loaded with an overwhelming amount of biological diversity. The jungle plants alone are worth the trip, and I'm not a plant person. But no, it doesn't have all the amenities of a Holiday Inn on the interstate highway. If that's what you're looking for, then stay on the interstate or go to Monteverde. This place is miles from the nearest paved road, life there is WILD. It's a genuine wilderness, not the wheel-chair accessible version. Rivers and waterfalls, coatimundis all over the place, and the brightest, most colorful birds I've ever seen. Tanagers and euphonias, trogons and currasows and who knows what else. Yes, you might get muddy. Yes, you might get sweaty or wet from the rain. But the amazing thing is that you can go there at all, to a pristine jungle that is like life was before there were people. A patch of Eden. It feels like you are at the end of the earth. Or maybe at the beginning. It brought peace to my soul.

  • Liked — Wilderness experience
  • Disliked — No electricity in the rooms
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2007

I too felt it necessary to say something positive about this wonderful place. If you do your research, you find out right away about the tractor ride, no electricity etc. The tractor ride really isn't fun. On the way in, it was tolerable because of all the nature we saw (blue morphos, birds, etc.). My boyfriend and I are city dwellers, so it was really exciting. Once we got there, we saw a tapir right away!!
I loved our lodge, I thought it was really cute. Mind you, I am NOT a camper and I was totally happy. We went during rainy season, so the place was empty. We pretty much had a private guide to ourselves. Wilbur was great and I still look for birds all the time now because of that trip.
The food was good, and I loved hanging out at night at the common area. The overall trip was just something I don't know if I'll ever experience again. If you can rough it, I recommend taking this once in a lifetime opportunity. It's much better than the more touristy parks because you'll see a lot more nature.

  • Liked — An orginal experience, Rustic, but not TOO Rustic
  • Disliked — Tractor Ride
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, MA
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2007

It was over a year ago that we visited Rara Avis, but after reading the "not for tourists" review, I thought I should present a different viewpoint.

We spent two weeks in CR over Christmas of 2005, and Rara Avis was probably the highlight, especially for our children (8 & 10).

Rara Avis makes no bones about the fact that the tractor ride is uncomfortable, and that the facilities are rustic and lack electricity. If you are not used to camping, or at least budget travel, and are more comfortable in a place with all "mod cons", this is definitely not the place for you.

The tractor ride in took 3 hours, and it was a very long 3 hours! On the way in, the staff saw the children and recommended that we ride all the way in. On the way out, however, we walked the first hour with a guide, and it was much better that way. The less time on the tractor, the better! After it was over, it seemed like just a fun part of the adventure, but at the time it was pretty uncomfortable!

We were able to go on several guided hikes -- one the afternoon we arrived, one the next morning, and on a night hike with all the guides and guests. We also went on a couple of hikes on our own, or with other guests. Of course it is always best to go with a guide, because you see more. The guides do seem a little overworked, and my one suggestion would be to add one or two more guides, but the trails are well marked and it is no problem to hike independently.

The rainforest was wonderful, of course; we saw a lot of birds and plants. But the highlight in the nature department came when one of the guides knocked on our door at 6:30 a.m. to tell us that there was a tapir outside the dining hall. We had certainly not expected to see one of those!

Swimming at Rara Avis happens in a beautiful waterfall. Our guide told us ahead of time that the water was cold, but we didn't really listen because we're used to pretty cold water at our cottage in Canada. It was absolutely freezing! But a great way to cool off after a hike.

Of course the food involved a lot of rice and beans; that is a staple in CR. The food was simple and delicious. It was served family style at long tables in the dining hall, and we met people from several different countries when everyone gathered for meals. In the late afternoons, people tended to wander down to the dining hall to look up the plants and creatures they had seen that day in the nature guides provided, and to talk or play cards over a few drinks. After some intitial shyness, all the kids there ended up exploring and playing games together.

The Waterfall Lodge was rustic, and the beds were certainly not plush, to say the least, but it was very peaceful and there was absolutely no insect problem at all. (Everything was screened in.)

If you are considering Rara Avis, you should first think hard about what kind of traveller you are. It is not true that you have to be a researcher to enjoy Rara Avis. But you do have to be a certain type of traveller. If you are comfortable with the idea of no electricity and rustic lodgings, are interested in nature and used to getting out hiking, you will probably love it. If you are more the plush hotel type, I'd check out a different rainforest lodge. There are plenty to choose from in CR.

  • Liked — Rainforest and wildlife
  • Disliked — Nothing, really
  • Stayed December 2005, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve

Address: Horquetas 1000, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Heredia > Sarapiqui > Horquetas
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Horquetas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rara Avis introduced the concept of ecotourism as a conservation tool to the region in 1983, in which nature-based tourism is now the second largest industry. We preserve 12km2 and 20km of trails, we guarantee you the most authentique and unique experience on Costa Rica rainforest. The lodge is designed to maintain the feeling of being deep and isolated in the forest, while offering basic but comfortable rooms and excellent traditional food. We maintain the sense of the real Costa Rica of many years ago, while offering daily guided walks in which our resident guides explain how the rainforest works. In good weather it is possible to swim at the base of our pristine waterfalls. Other guests simply prefer relax in hammocks on the private balconies of their rooms. This a place for serious naturalists and those who like to have a learning experience on the rainforest. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge And Reserve
Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve Hotel Braulio Carrillo National Park
Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge & Reserve Costa Rica/Sarapiqui - Horquetas

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