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“Without a doubt, the best place I have ever stayed.”

Nature Observatorio
Ranked #2 of 17 things to do in Manzanillo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Beautifull Tree
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Reviewed November 3, 2013

My wife and I stayed in the Observatorio last week and it was the most amazing experience I have ever had in nature. From the hike in to the climb up the tree to the guided hike the following morning, everything was perfect. Peter hiked in a pizza for us for lunch, let me tell you that having pizza delivery this deep in the jungle is a thing to behold.

As everyone else has already mentioned, the place is amazing. You are on a beautifully designed, completely open observation platform, in the canopy of a primary rainforest. Nothing else could compare. The actual lodging there is quite nice as well, from the hammocks and beanbags to lounge in to the super comfy (tempurpedic?) mattress. Getting up to the tree shouldn't be a problem for anyone even modestly in shape, my 6 month pregnant wife made it up the ropes twice with no issues.

You can come here for a day trip or stay the night, opt for the lattter... Leaving before nightfall would be such a bummer as spending the night in the canopy is not a thing to be missed. Before we booked we thought it sounded expensive but after staying there and experiencing it all, this was an absolute bargain compared to some of the other places and things you can spend your money on in CR.

Peter and his team have a real and deep passion for saving this unique rainforest and it shows in everything they do. It was truly remarkable to see what they have done to save the land so far and I look forward to visiting again in the future. On top of it, Peter takes all the money from the Observatorio and is using it to buy and protect additional primary rainforest before the loggers or banana barons get to it. While we normally don't like to visit the same place twice, we are already plotting our return to the Observatorio.

Thank dainkenkind
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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74 - 78 of 147 reviews

Reviewed November 3, 2013

Where to start other than to say that if you want a true experience of a night in the jungle, this is it. This is without a doubt, the finest and most unique place we ever have stayed. Period. From the time we arrived, Peter and his team took care of everything. Delivering food by hiking it in from whatever restaurant in town you want and guiding us on a hike through his primary, virgin rainforest, everything was simply amazing. This is absolutely a once in a lifetime experience that any nature lover needs to have. If you don't have time, you should contact him for a day trip to the Observatorio, but that will just make you wish you booked it for the night.

There are other "treehouses" that you can stay in, but trust me when I say that they pale in comparison to what Peter has built. The entire structure is a work of art and is suspended from the tree, not nailed in so the tree is completely unharmed in the process. It is as stable and safe as can be, the views are magnificent and the wildlife comes to you. During our too short stay, we had toucans, macaws, spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, tree frogs, poison dart frogs and a giant walking stick make an appearance.

The layout of the treehouse could be straight out of a high end architecture magazine. There is grating along all the edges of the floor so you can stand on it and look down, plexiglass up to your waist and a bamboo railing so you can look out or up without having your view blocked. You can see (and hear!) the ocean in the distance over the jungle. There are hammocks and beanbags for sitting down and taking it all in. Cooling off with a shower while looking out on the canopy on all sides is a thing everyone should experience.

Not sure that he mentions this in his listing, but included in the stay are: all meals from whatever restaurant you want in town, hand delivered through the jungle, a fully guided hike through the jungle with Peter and a native Bri Bri guide and jovial entertainment from Jason. It was a great team who was an absolute delight to be around. Seeing their passion for saving the rainforest was truly inspiring.

If you are pondering whether or not to book this and think it may be too expensive, let me assure you that it is not and is in fact a total bargain for what you are getting, an experience of a lifetime. Book it, now!

Thank Toni L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 23, 2013

Awesome and inspiring! You will rethink your life and how you live after this excursion.

So you have traveled the world, kayaked the Grand Canyon, lived in Iceland, and bath with snow monkeys in Japan, and you are feeling a little let down by zip lines and butterfly tours.

Nature Observatorio is just what the doctor ordered. There are three layers to this unique day adventure, which will appeal to the avid explorer.

1st layer, Peter, owner-builder of the suspended, eco-lux tree house you are to visit. Peter himself is a man of passion and hands on experience. He leaves no frog un-turned on your 45 minute walk into the Costa Rican primary rain forest. Literary, you will see more frogs then you have ever seen in your life. If you are traveling with young children, as we did, Peter makes the extra effort to make sure they get up close and see all the brilliant colors. Peter is also a guardian of the ancient trees he climbs and monitors with his trusted BriBri guide, Felix. You will pass massive trees, which are on par with the feelings you have walking through the Redwoods and Sequoia. Finally, Peter is a builder and engineer at the root level and uses his skill set to create eco-responsible designs which leave no footprint.

Layer 2. The climb. We have rocked climbed and repelled before, but we have never ascended using tree climbing gear and techniques. Peter and Felix were super pro and very calm when teaching us the technique to climb. It is not a strength thing, more so coordination, like an inch worm. My 52 year old mother-in-law, who is afraid of heights, and has little upper body strength, made the ascent with a smile. Our daughter had the time of her life, as she was harnessed in securely, given a helmet, and then hoist up to her mother. The best part of the experience is watching the canopy as you rise above it.

3rd Layer, the eco-lux tree house observatory. Think Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic, "I am the king of the world!". You are on-top of the canopy looking over Pandora in Avatar. Surreal and tranquil. Peter rolls out the fresh fruit, spring water, and snacks as you ask him, what's that?, how did you assemble that? is that a rain water fed shower?, how does the toilet work? how long did it take you to build this? what's touching the tree? holy crap, you really did this? how much does it cost, I want one in my back yard?... You mind will be turning, discovering how smart the eco design is and feeling inspired how you can live lighter back home.

Summary. We have been to the Puerto Viejo area 4 times now and the is a "must do" for anyone visiting. 100% unique.

Thank you Peter for creating your dream and letting us live in it.

Best Regards,

Chad and Julia, Los Angeles, CA

1  Thank Chad B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2013

Our family of 5 and 2 friends rented a house in Manzanillo. It turns out that our neighbor was Peter, who operates the Nature Observatorio; he lives in town, behind the house where we were staying. We had been told that we would have wifi internet and it worked for the first two days but went dead on the third day and the satellite television didn’t work. Later we found out from the owner, who were in the Netherlands, that that the satellite television had been mistakenly disconnected. The television not so important but it never worked, but the internet was particularly important for us, as and it gave us something to do in the evening. It gets dark early in Costa Rica, around 6 PM and it was raining every evening, so it would have been helpful to have television and internet as we were looking for something to do indoors. After two days asking the caretaker who kept telling us maybe tomorrow someone will come and repair it, we contacted the owners by email in the Netherlands. The owner was very apologetic but internet was not restored until the following Monday with some explanation attributing the internet problem to the government phone line, but no one else in Manzanillo was having any trouble with their internet or phone connection. Also we were given the reason for the satellite television not working was because the service was mistakenly disconnected, and then told that it was turned back on but it never was.

But these things are unrelated to the Nature Observatory except that the owner from the Netherlands contacted Peter who lives next door and asked him to stop in to see us. He came over to our house, introduced himself; he is very friendly, offered to let us use his wifi signal while we were waiting for ours to be restored. He told us about himself, the Nature Observatorio and asked us if we were interested in doing the excursion into the jungle to climb the rope to the tree house. I had read reviews about the Nature Observatorio on Trip Advisor before we left, it was something that we had talked about before meeting Peter and everyone was interested in doing this. We lucked out with Peter living so close nearby and the road and trail to the Nature Observatorio are also nearby. It was very rainy during the 10 days that we were in Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast, so we had to postpone our trip to the Nature Observatorio to the following week, while we waited for the rain to break. We had to postpone or hike to the Observatory until the next week, as it was raining and Peter had some guest coming to stay overnight at the tree house for the weekend, so he had to have time to prepare it, make it ready for them to move into, so we waited until after the weekend and for the rain to stop.

Peter kept stopping by to see how we were doing as it was raining almost every day, he kept us updated about the weather, even brought us a delicious pineapple one evening and stayed to have a drink with us. Peter invited us to go to the beach on Tuesday morning to dig up a wooden ship that we had seen while walking on the beach our first day there and he had noticed it also while walking on the beach. This was a bonus adventure for us that we hadn’t expected and we gladly volunteered our labor to participate in such an exciting adventure, just like digging for buried treasure, we were wondering what we might find. It was hard work, digging with our hands, a couple of plastic buckets and small shovels that Peter brought along. The part of the ship that we excavated was the wood hull, constructed of large timbers with metal spikes and metal straps that had rusted away that was built by hand, very old, perhaps hundreds of years old. Peter said that no one had seen it there before, it had been exposed recently by the rough seas and high sea level that had eroded many parts of the beach, exposing tree roots and felling trees along the shoreline. After the archeological dig, it was our last day left that we could go the Observatory and Peter said that we would have to do it that day, even if it was raining some, it was something that we wanted to miss before we left and it was something that we will never forget doing together as family and friends.

The road to the observatory is gravel and flat, easy to walk on, it is on the left side of the main paved road, just as you are leaving the town of Manzanillo, as you are heading north toward Puerto Viejo. There is a recreational facility located on the same road which is called Recope, it belongs to the Costa Rica National oil refinery and is a recreation facility for company employees. It is just outside of Manzanillo. It is a beautiful road into the forest, there are many large trees, you can see monkeys, toucans and there is a tall tree with Oropendola birds and hanging nests, they are fun to watch as they fly in and out of their nests and listen to their very strange and unusual sound that they make. It is a great road to take a walk and see lots of wildlife if you are looking for a place to take a walk and enjoy the nature of the tropical forest. The road splits into two parts and at the end of the road that goes to the right, past a house in the forest and walking over a small bridge that crosses a creek, is the beginning of the trail into the forest that takes you to the tree house.

Fortunately, the rain stopped on Wednesday morning and with a break in the rain, the sky cleared enough that we started to see some sun coming through the trees as we were walking on the trail in the forest, giving us a short dry spell for the hike and to climb the ropes to the tree house. Peter brought along a guide and climbing partner whose name is Felix. Felix is from Panama and belongs to an Indigenous group who live in the mountains in Panama. He had come from Panama that morning to work with Peter. Felix walked with us to the tree house. Peter was the first to go to the top of the tree house, Felix stayed on the ground to help us get rigged into the harness and instruct us how to pull ourselves up the rope to the tree house with Peter directing us from above, and everything was relaxed and worked out just fine. Felix is also very knowledgeable about the medicinal use for the forest plants. One of our friends, Grace, was not feeling well; we didn't exactly what was wrong with her. She had had a slight fever, upset stomach and was feeling weak; she decided not to go on the hike to the tree house. Perhaps she was more affected by the mosquito bites that we were experiencing at night; we were all getting bit ferociously in the evenings, while we were sitting in our open living area in the dark. There was constant rain most every night for 10 days that we were there and it was very damp. While we were in the tree house, Felix was on the ground, cutting some medicinal plants from the forest and brought them home with us to make a tea for Grace to drink. He also found a plant in the garden that he cut some leaves from and crushed them to make a paste to put on our friend John's mosquito bites that had caused sores on his ankles and feet. We walked a trail through the forest that was at times along and through a stream, past a small waterfall and then climbing a steep hill to reach the tree house. The hike is not long but the trail is steep, muddy and slippery in some places, there had been almost constant rain while we were there. The rope climbing was very exciting as none of us had ever done this before and we didn't really know what to expect. I am the oldest at 51 years old, I consider myself in good condition but not athletic, I wasn't worried that I couldn't pull myself up to the tree house but I wasn't sure how difficult it would be. It was physically challenging. Most of the work is done with your legs by pushing and using a ratcheting device on the rope to hold your place as you push a special knot up with your arms and hands, so it is a combination of kicking downward, which pushes the ratchet upward and then taking the weight off of your legs and pushing the special knot up with your hands which holds you in place to repeat the procedure until you reach the top. Everyone in our group was able to get themselves up to the tree house, we were very proud of our accomplishment, it is very hard work but not just requires patience and you can take your time, however much time you need, there is not any rush to reach the top quickly and you can stop and take a rest and enjoy the view from the different levels of the canopy that you reach. My youngest daughter, Gabby, who is 12, made it to the top first to wait with Peter for the rest of us to follow her. We enjoyed seeing the different levels of the forest canopy; it is on a giant Nispero tree but not nearly as large as another tree next to it which is even larger. There are some amazing views from the tree house, looking down from the hill toward the ocean you can see the waves breaking along the coast, you see the lowland coastal forest in the Manzanillo refuge, some of the trees in the distance are flowering pink and red, you can see into the pantanal, which is the swamp in the center of the Manzanillo refuge. We were allowed to stay in the tree house for at least an hour. Peter brought along some fruit for us to eat while we were there. He told us about the planning and construction of the tree house and about the nature preserve that he and his wife are managing and protecting in Manzanillo, also they have an organization and plans to build other tree houses in other parts of the world in different forest ecosystems.

This was a great experience for all of us; we will never forget meeting Peter and Felix, spending time in the forest and the tree house. It would be a great experience for any family and their children to remember their entire lives. We hope that these special places will not be destroyed and lost for future generations to experience.

1  Thank lovelesstodd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2013

Nature Observatrio is a “must do” while staying in the Manzanillo/Puerto Viejo area! We had the absolute best time with Peter. If you love nature, do this trip! If you love learning about other countries, do this trip! If you love exploring and adventure, do this trip!

We hired Peter to take us on the day trip to hike to the Observatorio. It was myself, my husband and our 9 year old daughter. The hike to get to the Observatorio was beautiful. It had been raining a lot the week that we were in the area, so it was quite muddy. Peter loaned us some rubber boots. I highly recommend wearing the boots! We didn’t really understand about the boots until this day. We hike a lot where we live in Colorado. We always wear lightweight hiking shoes or Keen sandals. Not only are the boots great for the mud here, but also the snakes! Peter had just asked my husband what it was that he would like to see the most, as we had been in the area for several days and been on a few other hikes/tours. He said that he’d love to see a fer-de-lance snake, as we hadn’t seen any in the wild yet. Well, ask and you shall receive! It wasn’t maybe 10-15 minutes later on our hike and we stumbled on one right on the trail! This is when I was super glad that I had on the rubber boots! It was very exciting and cool to see in the wild. Peter and Orlando helped the snake off the trail and we were on our way again.

The hike through the jungle was very beautiful. Peter and my daughter, Olivia, played a game of “who can find the smallest poison dart frog”. We saw just about every kind of variety possible I think! Although, I don’t think we would have seen even a third of them without Peter! These things are so tiny and he has such a great eye for spotting things! He told us all about the plants, trees and animals as we walked along through our hike. He even found some of these cool seeds (now I forgot what tree they come from) that I wanted to make a necklace. I never would have spotted those on the ground without him!

When we finally arrived at the Observatorio it was an amazing sight. We sat on the benches and enjoyed some ice cold water before starting our climb up the tree. To get up into the Observatorio you have to climb a rope. If you are physically unable to do so they also have a system where they can just pull you up. I have to say that the climb was one of the best parts of the trip though! He was not expecting our daughter to climb, as the youngest person to do so ahead of her was a 12 year old boy. However, Olivia, is extremely determined and is also very physical (hikes, mountain bikes, is one belt away from becoming a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, etc.). So she was also really looking forward to this part. I am super proud to say that she was the first 9 year old to make the climb all the way to the platform at 80 feet! The climbing is way different than I imagined it in my mind. For some reason I thought our feet would actually be on the tree and pushing against it to climb up. I guess I thought that from my previous rappelling experience. That is not how it’s done! You basically sit in a harness (similar to the kind used to rappel) and there is a rope in front of you. There are also two loops for you to rest your feet in. You have to pull your feet up to your stomach, and push the knot in the rope above your head, then pull your feet, stand up, push the knot, etc. You basically look like an inchworm climbing the rope! It is challenging for someone who does not do this every day! However, all three of us had a great time climbing the rope and thought it was well worth the climb. The view you get while suspended by the rope is like no other!

Once on the platform we sat down to relax in the bean bags and hammocks for a well deserved rest! Again, Peter gave us nice cool water and snacks (fresh fruit, cookies, crackers) to eat. We spent a good amount of time just relaxing and taking in the wonderful view that surrounded us. It was incredible! After we had relaxed enough Peter gave us a tour of the Observatorio pointing out all of the special features to us. It is truly amzing! I found it fascinating to hear about how it’s all put together and how it works. I’m still shocked an amazed that not a single nail was used in putting it together! It has all the features you need in a home – hammocks, bean bags, kitchen area, bathroom with showever/toilet and a second floor with beds! Peter is a genius to have created such a place!

We spent quite a long time up on the platform. Then it was time for us to descend (a lot easier than climbing up) and take the hike back to the start. The hike was gorgeous and we saw a butterfly with the translucent wings.

It’s funny, because I was on the fence about doing this trip. Before we arrived in Punta Uva at Korrigan Lodge I had been looking online for months at Peter’s treehouse. I even showed it to my students and talked to them about how excited I was to see it. Once we arrived in Punta Uva we had booked several different tours for our stay. I knew that the Observatorio would be amazing, but I wasn’t sure if I should spend the money on the tour. We had gone on another hike through the Manzanillo Gandoca Refuge with another guide, so I thought maybe it would be more of just the same. I’m so glad that I stuck with my heart and booked the trip. This hike/tour of the Observatorio was one of my most favorite things we did on our trip. I would highly recommend the day trip. Although, if I had the money, I would definitely spend the night in the treehouse! I would have loved to do that, but we just didn’t have the funds for it. I can only imagine all the cool things you would see up in the tree at dusk and again in the morning!
Peter is a fantastic guide, great with kids and his Observatorio should not be missed!

1  Thank Nicole A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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