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“Rafiki -- a magical, once in a lifetime experience!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rafiki Safari Lodge

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Rafiki Safari Lodge
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2.5 of 5 Lodge   |   16 Km from Pacific Coastal highway, Rio Savegre, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Rafiki -- a magical, once in a lifetime experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2012

Our family (2 adults and kids ages 10, 14, and 14) spent 3 nights at Rafiki Safari Lodge at the end of July 2012. We were on a 3 week tour of Costa Rica and the reviews of Rafiki on tripadvisor convinced us that it was a destination we shouldn’t miss.

Even with our possibly over-inflated expectations, the experience at Rafiki exceeded them. Rafiki is a magical place. Why? Because it’s small and intimate. Guests here are treated like they are being welcomed into a thoughtful, fun-loving community. The lodge is in fact run by an extended family whose ultimate goal is to create a sustainable business not just for themselves but for people in the surrounding villages. The care and joy that the staff at Rafiki bring to the experience is HUGE. The staff is happy to be there. And guests feel it. Rafiki aims to please - if you relax and trust them you will have a great time! And you will make some new friends along the way.

While we were at Rafiki we participated in river rafting. My kids went on the horseback riding to the put in spot and said the horses were very well mannered. They had never rafted before and it was better than any rafting I’ve done on the rivers of Northern California. I was the nervous nelly in the group and all I can say is that the guys who ran the rafting trip get 10 stars for safety. There was enough white water to keep my husband on the edge of his seat too…

We also went on an unforgettable “aqua hike” where we hiked along the edge of a river and climbed up and around over a dozen waterfalls ranging from 8 feet high to 50 feet. We got to swim under most of them. And we got to jump off (that part was optional) one of them! Along the way we learned about the flora and fauna of the jungle. There were lots of natural Tarzan-type swings for the kids to swing on, and a 4 foot wide, 416 foot long, 131 feet high suspension bridge to cross at the end. The entire day felt like we were on an Indian Jones adventure. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure forever!

A few other comments which might be helpful to other travelers. I had a hard time deciding how much of our vacation to spend at Rafiki vs. other parts of Costa Rica. Prior to coming to Rafiki we had spent a week at a beach house in Santa Teresa which was nice (part of a family reunion). We took the taxi boat (highly recommended) from Montezuma to Jaco to get to Quepos and then on to Rafiki. We didn’t go to Manuel Antonio because we were told it was too overrun with tourists. After we left Rafiki we went up to the Arenal/Monteverde area. If I had to do the trip over, I would spend far less time in the Arenal area. The Arenal area offers a lot of interesting, one-off activities for tourist, but in my opinion, it is difficult to experience the real Costa Rica there. And, it is very built up and commercial. There are a few hotels that look like they would have been better situated on the Las Vegas strip. If you are trying to commune with nature, this isn’t really the place. The experience there is much more impersonal, and you’ll find yourself stuck with a bunch of other tourists. ( I would however, make time to see Proyecto Asis and the Tabacon Hot Springs (if not to soak in the hot springs, then at least for the beautiful landscaping – it’s expensive but worth it). Monteverde is an entirely different experience but only for people who take the time to learn about the rainforest and cloud forest ecology. The most fun way to do this in my opinion is to stay on the campus of the University of Georgia where meals, lodging and naturalist-guided activities are all inclusive. OKAY I’m getting too far off track but I would have liked to spend 4 nights or more at Rafiki, 3 nights at U. of Georgia, 4 nights on the beach at Santa Teresa or Montezuma area and 2 nights in Arenal. The next time we travel to Costa Rica I would like to visit the Osa Peninsula and Tortuguerra which we didn’t have time for on this trip.

The bottom line is this: You won’t forget Rafiki – it is a slice of heaven on 900+ pristine acres in the jungle – spend as much time there as possible! Oh yeah – the rooms are great, the gardens are spectacular, the waterslide is a blast, and the food is very good! It is fun for the whole family!

Room Tip: I was surprised at how clean the rooms were. There is no room service so I didn't give it a rati...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 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.
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216 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (33)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Quincy, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2012

As a family, we have traveled to quite a few places and nothing comes close to the experience we had here. My two children, ages 16 and 10, enjoyed it as much as my husband and I. We stayed for two nights as part of a package which included horseback riding to the river, and then the rafting back to the lodge. I can't say enough about our guides, who were knowledgeable and fun and always had safety as a priority. The horseback riding is good for beginners, but anyone more advanced might be a little bored since the horses walked the whole time. The rafting was definitely the best part of the adventure. I was nervous about having my youngest child fall into the river but eventually got over it, especially after everyone at one point ended up in the water. I certainly felt like we were in safe hands the whole time, and it was quite a thrill! We had an amazing lunch provided by Rafiki halfway through the trip (complete with a bathroom in the middle of the jungle - how great is that?) The lodge itself is in a beautiful setting, and the luxury tents are clean and comfortable with a huge bathroom attached. It was a little unsettling to be reminded to use flashlights after dusk when you walk back to your tent due to the possibility of snakes, but I never saw one. So long as you stick to the path and remember to zip up your tent you should be fine. The staff and owners of the resort were amazingly attentive without being too intrusive, and we enjoyed the family atmosphere. We were there for the third week of August and were the only guests during our stay, which was initially a little odd to us. However, it is the start of the rainy season, which probably scares people away. It didn't affect our plans as it tended to rain in the afternoons and mornings were hot and sunny. There wasn't much to do after dinner except go back to your tent, but we were tired after our long day so it wasn't a big deal. The road to get to Rafiki is long and bumpy, so if you plan to go for the rafting or other adventures, it would make sense to stay there rather than trying to travel back and forth in the same day. Also, the food was fantastic and makes it worth the stay. It was very fresh and delicious; always two choices and they were attentive to the needs of my youngest who was a picky eater. However, that being said, there were no chicken nuggets or fries so he had to learn how to be flexible on his end, too! Our host Ralene was very helpful in arranging for our transport back and forth to the resort since we did not rent a car. All in all, we loved it and were very glad that we squeezed it into our week of traveling from one end of Costa Rica to the other.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Aromas, California
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 23, 2012 via mobile

We did not stay here but we took the white water rafting tour. Our 7 and 8 year old boys fell in love with the rafting and the place.... which we would have stayed at if we had known about it before. The water slide to the pool is FANTASTIC. Our boys could have done this all day and my husband and I could just hang out at the bar above it watching them. So relaxing and the staff is wonderful. If you go on the rafting trip be sure to buy the photos the very talented photographer takes. One of them will be your best Christmas card ever!

Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2012

What an amazing place, amazing people, breathtaking scenery and unmatched hospitality!! If you're looking for a unique and truly memorable experience set in the rainforest, with unforgettable adventures, this is the place to go. I live in Costa Rica, work as a travel agent here, and get to stay at all of the wonderful hotels around the country as part of my job. This has to be in my top 3 favorite places of all time. Thank you for such an amazing experience. I will be back soon!! Can't wait to do the beach version!! Mil gracias, amigos de Rafiki!!

Room Tip: Rooms 1 and 2 have amazing views of the lake and are close to the main area/restaurant.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winter Park, Colorado
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 3, 2012

All the reviews of this place don't lie, don't exaggerate. Everything, I mean everything is what you expect on vacation. What really stands out, and it's hard to pick just a few, is the food, the Savegre river, and the hospitality of Loki and his family. If they serve their South African fare, you are in luck! And Loki is an awesome, sincere and very friendly host and river guide. My wife and I went rafting on the river and kayaking to the ocean with him. I highly recommend both, but especially the kayaking trip! Overall, I highly recommend Rafiki without any reservations!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2012

This place is a mountain paradise. I loved the clouds rolling silently through the canyon, the hot tub in the rain was wonderful, the slide and running water was great, horse riding and class 3 rapids. Fun for the whole family, all this and hydro electric and wifi, perfect blend of jungle and creature comforts.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Ringgold, GA
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2012

After driving past the sign for Rafiki more than 6 times on our way back and forth to Domincal, we decided to venture up the mountain to check out the mystery. Let me say that this was perhaps the BEST decision we made on our trip to Costa Rica. The road is definitely bumpy (car massage anybody?) but well, WELL worth the trip. When we arrived, we were graciously welcomed by the owner's daughter-in-law who took us on a tour of the property. Although the folks at Rafiki knew we had lodging elsewhere, they still offered us the opportunity to hang out and enjoy their facilities for the day. We (husband, 2-year old, and 5-year old, and me) spent the whole afternoon enjoying the jacuzzi and waterslide!!! Plus, they made the BEST homemade tortillas we had in CR. It was a PHENOMENAL time enjoying the company of other patrons and the owners (who happened to be some of the most hospitable people we've ever encountered)!!! We loved our time at Rafiki SO much that we returned the next day for a whitewater rafting trip. The staff at Rafiki set us up with a top-notch Nanny, Sadie, so that we could take our 5 year-old on the river and leave the 2 year-old safely at the lodge. It was PERFECT!!!! I think EVERYTHING about Rafiki is top-notch!!! Sometimes with children you worry about fitting in, but the folks here were super sweet with our kids and went out of their way to make them have a VERY enjoyable experiernce. In fact, they even delived my son's inflatable arm swimmers to our hotel in Manuel Antonio when we accidently left them there (which was exactly 1 hour away). I can't believe the service!!!! We are certainly going to stay at Rafiki on our next trip to CR.

Room Tip: Because we didn't actually sleep on site, I did not rate the sleep quality, rooms, room service...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rafiki Safari Lodge

Address: 16 Km from Pacific Coastal highway, Rio Savegre, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #28 of 445 Specialty Lodging in Province of Puntarenas
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Rafiki Safari Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rafiki is a sustainable adventure lodge located in the Savegre Valley of Costa Rica. The lodge sits on 840 acres of tropical forest. Rafiki specializes in custom white water rafting, horseback riding and hiking trips. Guests sleep in imported luxury Safari Tents which feature hydro electric fans and lights. Each tent sits on a raised hardwood platform, has a deluxe bathroom with glass showers heated with fire. The units also have a private porch with rocking chairs looking over the Savegre Valley. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rafiki Safari Hotel Province Of Puntarenas
Rafiki Safari Lodge Costa Rica/Province Of Puntarenas

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