Ii wanted to do something unique and away from any mass tourist venues in Costa Rica & Rara Avis fitted the bill perfectly. After an e mail to request a very quiet horse, I was met at Las Horquetas by Diego and his helper & assisted to mount Maria, who behaved perfectly. I am over sixty, have arthritis of the hip, cannot ride, & had not sat on a horse for thirty years, and I found the three hour trek to El Plastico wonderful! Beautiful views, a much better track than I had expected....never would I take the tractor, it must be so bumpy & noisy by comparison with the clopping hooves. I had read the website instructions & taken my own boots in case the boots supplied did not fit; I would recommend knee-high socks as is suggested if you cannot manage to bring your own boots, as the edges can cut bare legs. At El Plastico, the staging post on the edge of the forest, we were met by the excellent guide, Jonathan, who led us on what was a two hour trek to Rara Avis. I disagree with the reviewer who thought the trails poorly maintained; while maintenance in the luxuriant vegetation must be a constant challenge for the staff, the trails are quite good enough. Jonathan was always ready with a helping hand for me, knowing intuitively when there was an extra slippery bit. I covered myself with insect repellent, btw, but never had to shoo away any bugs & was not bitten at all. You do need light rain gear. It rained heavily in the afternoons & at night; going down, the horses had to wade through some water up to stirrup level.
My accommodation in Waterfall Lodge was simple, but not damp as in another reviewer's account. You can feel the planks under the mattress, it is true, but I slept very well. There was lighting only in the dining room, so a torch was necessary as indicated and the hot water in my room did not work (it did in some other rooms), but it was not too difficult to have a cold shower as the water was not icy. There was a hammock strung on the balcony outside the room, a good spot for a rest in the afternoon.
Doris, in the kitchen, did her best; rice & beans do feature at every meal but that is Costa Rican cuisine. There was always plenty to eat & the tropical fruit at breakfast was delicious.
I stayed two nights, trekking up one day, going on a guided walk to the primary & secondary forest & beautiful waterfall the next, then doing the reverse journey back. Jonathan pointed out frogs, birds, snakes poisonous & harmless, trees, insects...a wealth of creatures an unpracticed eye would not see. The forest is magical! I have never been so oxygenated as there, breathing that marvellous air night & day (the windows have no glass, just mesh.)
Perhaps only people who don't mind slightly spartan conditions would like Rara Avis; it is true that the pictures on the website give an impression of more luxurious accommodation & must be rather outdated, but the four or five of us there over the same couple of days all felt the experience was special, including the journey there. I loved every minute!
- 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
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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