Going into this my girlfriend and I read all the reviews on here and honestly, not one paints an accurate enough picture to prepare you for what you are signing up for. We assumed the people who spoke poorly were just not the outdoorsy type and could not handle a little rustic accommodation. I was wrong, I love camping and the outdoors and this was well beyond awful. Read this in its entirety, despite the unappealing start you will find I mention all the pros as well.
The trip starts off at the meeting point in Horquetas, the first thing that will give you perspective on what's to come is the tractor and trailer which you will be riding for the next 3 hours. All the rims are bent out of shape and no two are alike. Moreover, the tires are all bald, but hey, these guys must be doing this trip daily so you give them the benefit of the doubt, dawn the rubber boots the give you and hop on board. About 500 meters into the trip you realized you missed something in your observation, this thing has no shocks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride... About 20 minutes in one of our tires fell off, this was still when we were or relatively fair ground, where regular cars could still pass, but luckily we had a skilled driver and with his bucket of spare parts (clearly this wasn't the first time this had happened to him) he put the wagon back together and we we're off once again within 45 minutes. Slowly the road starts getting worse and eventually there is no "road" just boulders and rocks with the occasional mud pit. But the driver never gives up, he just lays on the gas through the smell of burning rubber until the trailer reaches the end of its 3 hour 12 kilometer journey and you arrive at... El Plastico??? it's only about and hour and fifteen minutes on foot through the jungle from here... This is what you came for right? Of course so you follow the guide up the trail and sure enough you finally arise at Rare Avis.
Lunch is waiting and hot coffee is in the thermos. The service at Rare Avis is FANTASTIC! Be prepared for typical Costa Rican food. If you like rice, beans and casados, you will be happy, if not, you're out of luck.
After lunch it's time to get settled into your rooms. Those of you who paid extra for the glamorous "Waterfall Lodge" will be slightly disappointed do to the misleading name as there is no waterfall in sight. However, you will be glad you put down those extra $20 once you see the "Casitas", (this is where we stayed). Built in the early 1980 and never renovated since you will be shocked to find what they consider accommodations fit for human living. The infrastructure is rotten and the whole place is damp, even the sheets and mattresses are as they suck the humility out of the surrounding rotten wood. The bug screens that make up the top portions of the walls don't reach the roof and the door locks don't work. There is a hot water heater but, of course, it doesn't work... the mattresses are actually little foam pads, which after being slept on for thirty years are thoroughly compressed so you can enjoy the feeling for the wooden planks beneath it. we turned our noses at the situation for a few minutes but... whatcha gonna do now? The tractor left while you were eating lunch. We showered, changed and went exploring. First things first... let's check out this waterfall!!! it's beautiful and plenty of opportunity to swim and dive but getting there, well that's a whole different story. The trails which were made 30 years ago where done really well but upkeep has left them unmaintained. Stepping blocks have rotted, cracked and gone missing, the stairs have rotted through and become a lawsuit waiting to happen and the path to the bottom of the second falls has not been cleared in a decade. This is the same for all the trailer, plenty to see but disappointing conditions.
The guide, Jonathan, is the best thing this place has to offer. He goes above and beyond to make the guests as comfortable as he can given the little he has to work with. The night hikes were fantastic, we saw plenty of frog's snakes birds and spiders, we could not ask for more.
The second night my girlfriend and I were the only ones there, the staff were so warm and welcoming! My girlfriend grew up in Costa Rica and desperately wanted to make home made tortillas with Monte Verde cheese, she spoke to the kitchen staff and they opened the kitchen to her were happy to prepare the snack together with my girlfriend. When Jonathan returned from escorting the rest of the guests back to El Plastico, he, the two other staff members my girlfriend and I all sat down together for the snack she had prepared. That night we had another incredible night hike lead by Jonathan.
We opted to take the horses back over the tractor. Good call...
Guide (Jonathan) - A+
Cooking abd cleaning Staff (Doris and a lady who's name I do not know) - A+
Tractor ride - B-
Accommodations - F
Food - A-
Trails - D
Nature and Wildlife - A+
I'll post pictures of the waterfall lodge, Casitas and Cabinas. We explode them all to compare and document for this review. If you are absolutely sure you want to go, stay only in the Waterfall Lodge, and demand a discounted rate as the accommodations are truly old and decapitated and this place is starving for patrons. There were 4 other people there on the first night and only my girlfriend and I on the second, capacity is roughly around 60, you do the math... Moreover, if you go and hate your life, don't take it out on the staff there, they can't do anything about it and did not sell you the trip. Document your experience, post it here and take it out on management.
Do not stay more than 2 nights, or you will become Jack Nicholson from The Shining due to lack of dry and comfortable accommodations.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
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- 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