My wife and I stayed at Rancho Naturalista (RN) for five nights in February 2013. WE RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY!
Our room (number 1 in the lodge) was large and very comfortable, built of native wood. Having been there, we recommend the rooms in the lodge over the separate cabins, even though the cabins are newer.
Before I get to the birds, let me say that we enjoyed everything about the lodge: the food was terrific, the attention to cleanliness was outstanding, the friendliness of all of the staff was fantastic, and the manager (Lisa) was always attentive to the needs of every guest. We had a couple of special dietary needs, and they were met every meal without ever having to remind the staff or correct them regarding who got what food. It was amazing!
The lodge has a balcony overlooking blooming shrubs, bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and bird baths. The balcony also has a pleasant view across the valley.
The feeders and shrubs around the lodge were replete with hummingbirds (including snowcap, green breasted mango, black crested coquette, and the violet crowned woodnymph, among a number of other species). A number of species visited the banana and rice feeders frequently, including tanagers (Passerini's [a split form scarlet-rumped], white lined, and others), Montezuma's Oropendulas, Gray-headed Chachalacas, Blue-crowned Motmot, Brown Jays, Clay-colored Thrush, Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, and a lot of migrant warblers, such as Wilson's and Mourning.
The "Hummingbird Pools" are a must. They are supposedly at their busiest around 4:00-5:30, but we went at several different times. These pools are only a five minute walk down a trail from the lodge. Indeed, here come the hummingbird and some other species to bathe! We saw Snowcap, Purple-Crowned Fairy, Violet-Crowned Woodnymph, and others bathing in the pools, about forty feet below us at the overlook.
The lodge has on-site guides (the number varies with time of year, since the number of guests varies). There were four present while we were there (one local guide, two from Canada, and one from England; all had resided there from one to four years and knew the area and its birds extremely well). All speak English and all are excellent spotters and guides. We hired two different guides and enjoyed the skills of both. Some of the guides also know their butterflies very well, and some know the plants well.
Overall, if there is a negative, it was that the birds along the several miles of trails were not as active as we had expected. While we did an extensive see Stripe-Throated (Little) Hermit lek and three species of manakins, we simply did not see as many birds as we expected. That could have been because the weather was warmed than usual and a little drier than usual.
We recommend RN. We saw a few guests that did not seem to be having fun, but they tended to sit on the balcony all day, drinking coffee (or wine or beer) and didn't avail themselves of the trails or on-site guides. While this is a beautiful place to relax, sometimes having fun requires you to be active in the beautiful surrounding that nature offers.
- Also Known As:
- Rancho Naturalista Hotel
- Rancho Naturalista Turrialba
- Rancho Naturalista Hotel Turrialba
- Rancho Naturalista Costa Rica/Turrialba
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The premier birding lodge in Costa Rica, Rancho Naturalista is among the finest in Central America. There are plentiful hummingbirds on the large, open upstairs balcony where you can view the distant smoking volcano. Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the area. You can hike and bird the trails on your own, and excellent guides are available as well. At Rancho Naturalista the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, and the staff are friendly and welcoming. This comfortable lodge is famous for its excellent food, well prepared, and made with the best fresh local ingredients. The weather is almost perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful getaway for bird watchers, hikers, and nature lovers! ... more less