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“Surreal experience topping off our last two nights in Costa Rica” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rafiki Safari Lodge

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Rafiki Safari Lodge
2.5 of 5 Lodge   |   16 Km from Pacific Coastal highway, Rio Savegre, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Houston, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Surreal experience topping off our last two nights in Costa Rica”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Our family of four (13 yr. old daughter, 16 yr. old son) had an unbelievable time here at Rafiki Safari Lodge. We had been told, as atravelingone complained, that the road is bumpy. Welcome to Costa Rica! We had a very careful and wonderful driver, (Rafiki Lodge employee Edwin) who not only navigated the bumps perfectly, but was able in good English to show us and tell us about interesting things along the way, such as details about the African palm and teak plantations, the little villages of Santo Domingo and Silencio, and even the wildlife we were passing. Once we arrived, Mauren welcomed us and Ann had delightful fresh fruit drinks for us. Because the Lodge was not fully booked during our visit, Mauren very kindly offered our teens to stay in a separate "tent" next to ours, doubling our space. I put tent in quotations because this is like no tent I have ever experienced. The hardwood floors, the deck with handmade beautiful wooden rockers and tables, and the adjoining spacious, bright and light bathroom with large counter spaces and shelves for weary travelers, a generous and lovely shower (which YES provides as much hot water as one might want), and even fresh flowers all speak against the stereotypical tent experience. The "roof" is indeed a sturdy, wonderful tent, and my husband who is 6'3" and I at 6' had no shortage of space.
Carlo Boshoff, whose spectacular vision created a place of beauty and delight and elegance in the middle of the jungle, was a very down-to-earth and friendly host. His wife-who I understood more often interfaces with guests-was away on a family emergency during our stay, but Carlo, Ann, Raphael, Sadie, and the entire staff made sure we lacked for nothing.
The waterslide and pool were a welcome diversity for all of us, though the slide is verrrrrry fast (I am surprised atravelingone did not comment on...maybe did not try it out?). Dinner was delicious, as one of the other reviewers noted, Johannes is a "real chef" who is a Tico who cooked professionally in the states and returned to his homeland.
Indeed, the cacophony of cicadas was omnipresent. That is one of the things though that I enjoyed. We intentionally did not want to "go to Costa Rica and stay in a luxury hotel on a beach that might as well have been in Miami or Malibu but with monkeys." We wanted to truly experience Costa Rica and Rafiki Safari Lodge delivered that beautifully.
In the morning, we enjoyed our coffee (at 6:30 am) while sitting and watching the many cherry tanagers and hummingbirds feed from flowers just under the deck railing and fresh bananas that had been put out on tiny feeding perches by one of the groundskeepers in order to entertain us!
Breakfast was hearty, and we spent the morning horseback riding with Carlo up to the part of the Savegre River where we were to begin our whitewater rafting experience. The horses appeared healthy; Turbo, Tigre, Mosca and Canela were gentle rides and very responsive to simple commands. The saddles were completely serviceable (actually somewhat softer and more comfortable than others I have ridden) and Carlo was a wonderful guide. An educated naturalist, he pointed out many interesting things among the fauna on our way uphill.
When we arrived at the "put in" spot, we were met by two amazing guides: Kenneth nicknamed "Chucky" and Randall, and Ann joined our little rafting party. The rafts were two person/one guide. We cannot say enough good things about "Chucky" and Randall. These fully bilingual, personable, charming and funny gentlemen navigated our foursome through the river like a good musician knows his instrument. Every chance they had to make my 16 yr. old son laugh and me get splashed (we wanted to) they orchestrated. On top of the traveling fun, they both introduced us to amazing things (breaking off bits of dozens of little edible plants or leaves whose scent gave away its origin: vanilla beans, "ben gay plants," wild ginger root, tiny citrusy begonias, and so many others I cannot name them all).
We had a picnic lunch during the trip (ok I'll mention the chicken was overcooked just so no one thinks I am just a positive Pollyanna about everything) so what? This is the jungle. The fruit was perfect. After lunch, we realized our daughter's ear began to bother her more than she was comfortable with. She had developed swimmers ear during the week, but was hoping to ignore it until returning home. Sadly we had to shorten a little the afternoon part of the rafting trip, but Chucky and Randall were very flexible and not at all bothered by last minute adjustments. They brought us to a beautiful waterfall, where they caught fresh water shrimp with our children, showed us these amazing ferns that respond to touch by closing up to protect themselves (Avatar-anyone?), and then we finished up the rafting and were met by a safari vehicle with outdoor seating to enjoy the breezy ride back up to the lodge.
Dinner again was very good, and this time we were fortunate to meet Carlo's warm and welcoming parents Constant and Ralene, and enjoy dinner with them and another couple who were visiting for the day. Carlo's son's nanny was able to give our daughter some eardrops, and between that and the Boshoff home remedy of white vinegar, she was stable for flying home in the morning.
Despite having only spent a couple nights and days at Rafiki, we were truly welcomed like extended family and felt so glad to have experienced this magical place at the end of what was a fantastic vacation.
I think when some people travel they are not really looking for something different from what they have at home. Unless you are lucky, Rafiki Safari Lodge is probably nothing like your own home. We were grateful to really travel - on a bumpy road, maybe even a little beyond what was in all of our "comfort zones" to experience adventure while the Boshoff and staff's hospitality made us feel at home.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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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237 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 (40)
Date | Rating
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  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Prior Lake, Minnesota
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 17, 2013

After leaving the highway, the near hour long drive bouncing between our seats and the roof on a poorly maintained road barely adequate to support our vehicle, which left our driver cursing, we arrived at Rafiki. It is a beautiful location near the river, but not on banks as stated; the river is not visible from lodge or tents. Beautiful and wondrous sights and sounds abound. Tents are quite nice and decks and views are private, however sounds are shared with all, (those prone to flatulence and active newlyweds beware). You "WILL" awake to a deafening and amazing sound of Cicadas and other creatures at 6:00 am....... you and your clothes will still be damp with the previous days sweat.... coffee will not be served until 7:00. Bringing your own instant coffee won't help as there is no hot water. We were told water would become hot after about 15 minutes... my watch must have been broken. Food was very good but limited to two options per meal served approximately at mealtimes designated by Rafiki (when not short staffed). One has two customized activity options per day; they are “yes” or “no”. The rafting, high walk bridge and water slide were great, meeting and exceeding my expectations. The horseback ride with ragged saddles and tack on a hot, dusty, shoulder-less, dirt road shared with speeding vehicles was substandard and dangerous for inexperienced riders and added nothing to the jungle experience. The jungle hike was ripe with real potential for physical harm from slips, falls and the unseen. We were not advised of these dangers by Rafiki management (who characterized the hike as suitable for a 3 year old) before being dropped from rafts half clothed in wet walking shoes where we were greeted by our guide clothed in long pants, and knee high boots. In spite of the dangers the hike did provide wonderful scenery, sounds and joyful play in waterfalls and pools. As for wildlife we had close up views of 2 lizards, 2 spiders and the back side of a Tucan. Fortunately our group of 10 survived with only bruises, scratches, bites, and blisters. A good meal was served before our three mile walk back to our pickup point on a dusty dirt road in the “HOT” afternoon sun. The guides and what staff there was at Rafiki were outstanding…. special thanks to Ann. The sustainable nature of Rafiki and its respect for the environment is admirable and worthy of support. Some may find the "fly by the seat of your pants" “make it up as you go" management adds to the experience, others may not. While I sustained no serious injuries, enjoyed myself overall and have fond memories of my Rafiki jungle experience, it is not for everyone, contrary to what you may be told.

Room Tip: Short walk to lodge most convenient, long walk quietest.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
RafikiJJ, General Manager at Rafiki Safari Lodge, responded to this review, March 18, 2013
Thank you for your recent review of our lodge. I am glad to hear you enjoyed the sights and sounds of the real Costa Rican rain forest. We are located in the heart of the forest and though the drive is bumpy you are guaranteed to be off the beaten path during your visit with us. I am disappointed to hear the hot water was not working in your tent. We are working on upgrading our current fire-heated hot water system to individual hot water systems in each tent and the project should be completed within two months. We strive to provide excellent service in the restaurant, bar and during our guided activities no matter how many guests are at the lodge. We also pride ourselves on our unique blend of Costa Rican and South African cuisine served in our restaurant. Due to our remote location and small lodge size, it is difficult to offer more than two dinner choices each evening. We put a lot of effort into our kitchen in order to serve exceptional cuisine at each meal. Our coffee is made using the traditional Costa Rican coffee sock method without the use of percolators or coffee makers and we try to serve fresh coffee by 6:30 each morning. I wish we could offer individual coffee pots in each room but our small, private hydroelectric system creates the challenge of conserving energy wherever possible. Our guided tours are what our guests enjoy most about Rafiki. With a white water rafting trip, a waterfall hike, bird watching, fishing, and two different horseback riding tours we feel there is an option for everyone. While we do our best to explain our tours making sure everyone knows what is to be expected, we should have better explained what the waterfall hike entails or suggested another tour for you that day. Thank you again for your comments. We will use your feedback in order to create a better experience for future guests.
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Sunset, South Carolina
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2013

This is the best thing we did in Costa Rica We did not stay at the Rafiki Safair Lodge but scheduled a one day river water rafting trip for 4 people. Because the River was low, we were taken in two small rafts called mini-me’s. We were picked up at our house and had a long ride to the lodge. After being given a tour of the lodge, which was quite spectacular, we were fed a full breakfast before heading out to go rafting. We had a brief orientation and safety talk and then we were on our way. Our guide was Kenneth and he was incredible. We had a hot lunch at a stop along the way that was included. We stopped at a waterfall and swam under it. Kenneth showed us plants that had medical and other uses. He spoke perfect English and had a good sense of humor. I would definitely do it again and you get real value for what you paid.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 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.
Eatonville
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2013

We were unable to spend the night at this beautiful place but at least wanted to at least see it. It was one of our trip highlights! The staff here is so friendly and welcoming even though we were only day-visitors. They gave us a map to hike the trails, put out fruit to draw in some of their gorgeous wild birds, and welcomed us to try out their very-fast and fun waterslide. We enjoyed lunch and fruit smoothies at their restaurant while taking in the ambiance of this pretty place and being constantly distracted by an abundance of wild birds. We easily saw crested guan and trogons on the trails and up-close views of woodpeckers, tanagers, and euphonia at the feeders. This place is delightful, even just for a day-trip!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
San Juan del Sur
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 26, 2013

Great staff and beautiful location! White water rafting with them has been AMAZING (we have been twice already and plan to do it another 2 times)! Looking forward to trying out a few of the other tours they offer. Very organized and professional! We did not stay at the lodge, but did take a quick tour - the rooms are very clean and looked great! We have loved Rafiki every visit!!!! Make sure to go down the water slide while there :o)

  • Stayed February 2013, 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.
San Clemente, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

This is the best bang for your buck in Costa Rica We did not stay at the lodge but scheduled a one day river water rafting trip for 6 people. We were picked up at our villa and after about an hour drive arrived at the Rafiki Safari Lodge. After given a tour of the lodge we were fed a full breakfast before heading out to the river where we started from. We had a brief orientation and safety talk and then we were on our way! Our guide was Rolando......if there is anything you do......don't forget that name. Rolando was an incredible guide. As a native he was extremely knowledgeable. His english was perfect! He stopped at various times during the trip to show us plants, trees, and wildlife. He even takes pictures! We gave him the camera and during the stops, he pulled it out and took the pictures. After river rafting for awhile we stopped for lunch. A full delicious lunch. We then headed back out for more river rafting and even stopped at a waterfall. Did I say how good our guide Rolando was???? Can't say enough about this entire trip. The owners were very friendly, the food was delicious, the guide was fantastic. Everyone on the trip commented about how this was money well spent! We would definitely do it again and would go back to Rafiki Safari Lodge.....maybe even stay there a night or two. Remember.....ask for Rolando! I am sure all there guides are good but if your going to Costa Rica, might as well as for the best. Thank you for a great experience.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Metro Detroit
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

This was our fifth trip to Costa Rica, and to Rafiki . After visiting about ten places in country, we split the last two trips between there and the other enchanting destination owned by the same family now called Rafiki Beach Camp. The Safari Lodge location is paradise. It is on the Rio Savegre with wildlife that is a dream to this photographer. You will not need to walk more than 100 feet to find amazing songbirds (go down by the boards in trees with plantains for the first 90 minutes after sunrise and before sunset), the odd Tucan that scares songbirds away for a few minutes, and egrets, herons and other shorebirds in the pond. You can also choose between hiking, rafting, horseback riding and the"aquawalk." That starts with a raft trip down the river. Then you hike up next to waterfalls and up a stream bed about 750 vertical feet to a very small village, have lunch there, and hike back down to the raft on the river to complete the journey. Next to the restaurant is a most interesting suspension footbridge about 130' above the gorge, and about 400' in length.The first unnamed waterfall is about 75' high and people usually stop to swim at the base. The second is about 50' high and you can dive off the third which is only 15' high.
The family that runs the lodge is terrific. The same people are still working there since our first visit in 2008. It has a woderful family atmosphere. IT also features a true chef in the middle of no where. We will be back again next year.

  • Stayed February 2013, 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 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 #21 of 472 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 
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Also Known As:
Rafiki Safari Hotel Province Of Puntarenas
Rafiki Safari Lodge Costa Rica/Province Of Puntarenas

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