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“Jungle Adventures”

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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed June 6, 2014

We found this place on TripAdvisor and it did not disappoint. Be prepared for a rough drive to get there because it's a little off the beaten path, but it's well worth it. Our own cabin (Mariposa) in the jungle was close enough to walk to the restaurant, barn, trails, and office but secluded enough to feel private and use the outdoor shower. The owners are so friendly and the entire staff is very helpful. If you have ever felt nervous around horses this experience might fix that forever. The trail rides start with a lesson in natural horsemanship and even my husband relaxed and admitted it was the first time he felt really comfortable on a horse. They will arrange any type of adventurous outing you want. Get a massage, listen to the jungle live, take photos. I could have spent many more happy days here and I'd love to go back again.

Room Tip: Noise level comment is not human-made. The jungle is loud at night with cicadas but we got used to i...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with family
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Thank Dale T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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202 - 208 of 671 reviews

Reviewed May 26, 2014

After reading other great reviews about Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat we booked four nights here (and then added a fifth night). Sure, this place has a really long name, but each word holds true to what we experienced: lovely forests (LEAVES) and great hiking trails,,,lots of insects, birds, horses, cows, monkeys and LIZARDS to enjoy…a breathtaking and unobstructed view of ARENAL volcano from the uniquely designed and spacious CABINS. This all added up to a total relaxing RETREAT environment.

We stayed in two different cabins: Congo and Coco. Both were close to the Lava Lizard Dining Room which we liked because it was a short walk on the unlighted gravel paths to meals and to use the WiFi hot spot there. (I think a flashlight is provided but I would recommend bringing your own anyway. ) The rooms had handcrafted furniture, a floor to ceiling picture window, and the retreat-like comfort of hammocks and rockers on the large porch. A fresh flower arrangement greeted us when we opened our cabin door and the refrigerator was stocked with goodies.

We took advantage of several of the activities L&L had to offer. Our favorite was the all day horseback ride to a private waterfall where we enjoyed a simple lunch and got chance to swim in the large pool formed by the waterfall. This was unlike any other horse backing riding experience we ever had. We started at the barn where our wonderful guide, Enrique, spent time helping us understand how to build a relationship with our horses. Then we hit the trail through the little village and beyond -- seeing monkeys along the way and cows crossing our path.

For another excursion we hired a professional guide/naturalist for a day, arranged by the staff at L&L. It was money well spent since we were able to choose where we wanted to go and get so much more insight and information on the areas we were visiting. We went to Arenal National Park, Arenal Hanging Bridges (both which I would highly recommend) and then on the way back we stopped for a soak in the free hot river just off the highway under a bridge. (It is on the site map on L&L's web page.)

Another activity we booked and enjoyed was a leisurely rafting ride on on Rio Penas Blancas. with Enrique. And don't miss simply walking the trails around the property; we did a free early morning hike with Oscar as our guide.

The food was good and we especially enjoyed the breakfasts with fresh Costa Rican coffee made at our table by the always smiling Dora, along with the entertainment provided by the resident parrot.

Debbie and Steve, the owners, have really put their hearts and souls into their property. The things they do with their well trained and well cared for horses are impressive -- especially their therapeutic horse back riding program. You can tell they have a strong commitment to give back to the local community in many ways.

I'll end by saying that the website for Leaves and Lizards is the most informative and extensive of any I have ever researched: it was very detailed and answered questions I had not need even thought of asking.

Room Tip: We stayed in both the Congo and Coco cabins. Wile both had great views of Arenal Volcano, we though...
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  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Mimi M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2014

Beautiful setting, warm people, AMAZING horses. There was a moment when we were swimming in the river with the horses that I was pretty sure I had been transported into another world ... a paradise dream. If you are a foodie, you will be very happy with the food. Fresh eggs and milk from their farm. I also loved the open air dining room with view of the volcano and brightly colored birds at the feeders. Guides are excellent. Can't say enough good things about this place.

  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled solo
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Thank Kristine J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2014

Our family of 5 stayed comfortably in the Monkey Cabin. Our children are 6, 8, and 10. My 10 year old has told everyone in Florida about the best restaurant in Costa Rica- The Lava Lizard! He keeps talking about the tomato soup (this is big since he only eats noodles). The staff was very accommodating for the boys picky eating. They booked our adventures and we loved every one of them. This was our best vacation ever! The Monkey Cabin had the best views of the volcano! This place is worth the crazy drive- very bumpy steep roads. The horseback ride was awesome. My 10 year old states it was his favorite activity during our trip. He told everyone about getting his horse to trust him. We woke every morning to the sound of a million birds.

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled with family
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Thank kpiakis2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2014

Let me start off we were on spring break vacation with 2 kids: 1 tween and 1 younger teen. This, honestly, was the best vacation I've ever had with my children! Besides each of them NEVER being bored, I absolutely loved it too! PERFECT! BEAUTIFUL!

The 'retreat' itself is Costa Rican gorgeous! Every cabin was beautiful inside & out, each with an entire wall of glass looking at the volcano. One night the volcano was basked in the moonlight-breathtaking! In order to accommodate the dates we wanted to stay, we had to move from one cabin to another (which was right next to it). No problem. First cabin was the "Toucan" with an outside (and an inside) shower-loved, loved the outside shower. Second cabin was the "Volcano"-equally as beautiful inside. This cabin sleeps 3 but they brought another bed in for us which didn't make the inside feel cramped at all. The walls of all the cabins are artfully painted by the owner-what a skill! Each has a microwave, plates, utensils, coffee maker, etc. The decks have a gorgeous table, chairs, and a hammock. The hammocks were used a lot. We saw tons of birds too around our cabin, including toucans. The cabins have a guest book inside each of them so you can read (& write down) your thoughts of the place along with the adventures-I thought it was very helpful to decide what we wanted to do while in country.

Food-delicious! We ate at the retreat every morning and evening. What is the most memorable for me is how good the food is! They offer a meat/fish & a vegetarian entrée each night. We always pre-ordered one of each. I love my meat though I ate the vegetarian entrée nightly and was amazed how every one was yummy. Kids had a varied menu to choose from as well and enjoyed their dishes. Service at breakfast (Hazel) was full of joy & love. And our evening service was always pleasant and very accommodating. The restaurant too had walls artfully painted by the owner!

Excursions. We chose not to rent a car and had the retreat pick us up from/return to the airport along with driving us to each adventure we needed transportation to. The prices look expensive though compared to renting a car, driving, and actually finding where you are suppose to go-I would do it all over again! We felt the prices of car rental vs the retreat's transportation were equal. Plus, we heard several folks say they got lost when looking for where they wanted to go; with the retreat driving you, you actually get there in a timely manner. Please keep in mind, driving somewhere takes 2-3x longer than in the US because a lot of roads are not paved. Every single thing we did was fun! The guides are very knowledgeable and seemed like they enjoyed it. We rode horses to the waterfall, another day to the river (and they let my son ride the horse in the river), another day was "Cowboy for A Day". My daughter is the crazy one for horses (plus has mild cerebral palsy so one side of her body isn't as strong as the other) and she did outstanding. The owner spent extra time with my daughter, teaching her a little more about riding which made a lasting impression on her! Their horses are wonderfully different from how American horses are trained. Again, the retreat "accommodated" us, moving things around so we could ride horses. I know it had to be work for them but they didn't let on. My kids loved riding the horses plus my husband and I did too (which was totally opposite of our expectation) . Also did "Tico for A Day" at Erik's farm. My husband & I immensly enjoyed Erik who's personality is so vivacious! He treated and spent precious time with our kids, riding horses in water and fishing in his pond and my kids played with his kids. We did kayaking-again great guide, great driver-made stops at a café with hundreds of large iguanas around it. Our least favorite activity was the hanging bridges though were taken to a snake, butterfly museum which the kids loved. Our driver (we were fortunate to have the same one throughout our stay) stopped whenever we asked for something like ice cream, souveniors, etc and was very safe driver. We really enjoyed the zip-lining and being the last group of the day, we were treated to a meal afterwards. They took pictures and videos which were available to buy at a small amount. The retreat even called ahead to forewarn of my daughter's handicap and the zip-lining guides took wonderful care of her. On the excursions, I felt they were a little more strenuous than how labeled and we are an active family. The country is hilly & Costa Ricans are very much in shape, not lazy.....

We each LOVED this vacation! Everyone was so nice and I cannot mention enough how accommodating this retreat is! My kids did not complain (after our arrival day) of not having any electronics, TV, communications (Wi-Fi is available at the restaurant though). We were busy enough with our activities not to miss them. And the kids slept soundly! This is definitely a vacation we'd do over again! The majority of visitors were dividing their time between here and the coast though we stayed at Leaves & Lizards 8 days. There is tons to do without traveling to the coastline! This is the first vacation we can label as "perfect" and perfect it was. The outstanding rating Leaves & Lizards has from Trip Advisor is well earned!

We traveled in April which is part of their 'dry' season. I think I'd rather go during the rainy season next time. The temps may be in the low 80's but felt plenty warm (we live in VA) and the times it did rain, we were thankful since it cooled it down.

Room Tip: Cannot go wrong with any cabin. If I had to choose, I'd love to go with the Toucan again becaus...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with family
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2  Thank CJKephart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 17, 2014

My family just loved staying at Leaves and Lizards. There were 6 of us in all. My husband and I plus our three girls ages 11, 15 and 17, plus my 86 year old father in law. We stayed in the Toucan Cabin for two nights and the Volcano cabin for 1. My father in law stayed in the Casa which was kind of an apartment above one of the homes on the property! It was seriously nice and so were our two cabins! We loved waking up (or should I say being woken up) by all the wildlife every morning. Enjoyed laying in our beds looking out at the volcano and watching every type of bird you can imagine fly by! Oh the butterflies, and cool bugs and hummingbirds and parrots and toucans and so much more! Breakfast was delicious and we had one dinner there which was delicious as well. We ventured down into the town of La Fortuna to get some more local flavor for our other meals! Steve and Debbie were so accommodating! We weren't sure what we wanted to do while we were there except for the Horse back riding to the falls, which we did and was great!!, a no miss part of the trip, a must do! Steve and Debbie were able to coordinate a trip to the Rio Frio for us up right at the border of Nicaragua! This was a wonderful adventure as well on the river where we saw too much wildlife to cover it all but the number of monkeys were amazing! My 86 year old father in law did the horse back ride to the falls and the two guides we had were amazing with all their help they gave to him. He was able to do everything but he was so thankful to have them since he was not very comfortable on a horse. I cannot say enough about Leaves and Lizards. If we get a chance again, we will stay longer and do way more because there is so much to do in the area!

Room Tip: The Toucan and Volcano cabin are great! Great view of the volcano!
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled with family
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2  Thank soccermomx3girls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2014

I loved staying at Leaves and Lizards although travelling by myself I perhaps did not get the most out of the trip but definitely recommend this remote resort for any families. I had a wonderful room overlooking the Arenal Volcano and was beautifully looked after by the staff. I was also able to have some great trips out in La Fortuna and around the area and loved the zip lines, hanging bridges, botanical gardens and great walks. A great place to stay if one loves the remote as I do.what is really unique is the paintings on the walls of the rooms and the restaurant.

Room Tip: I was not impressed by La Fortuna as it is very touristy but the National Park and other areas aroun...
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  • Stayed: April 2014, traveled solo
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Thank Pippa354
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat

Address: Meters South Of Super Kiki 500, Arenal Volcano National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos 21012, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Top resorts Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Family Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#5 Green Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#8 Business Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range: $150 - $170 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This secluded resort is located on 26 acres with spectacular viewing of the Arenal Volcano near La Fortuna. Enjoy the panoramic vista of Arenal and Cerro Chato from a hammock on your porch or from your comfortable, orthopedic, queen sized beds with Egyptian cotton sheets. Meals prepared using locally grown ingredients at the Lava Lizard on-site dining facility. Guests are invited to help with daily 'chores' on this working farm. Milk a cow, collect eggs for breakfast or groom a horse. Enjoy private horseback riding, professional guide service, on site spa and 2 km of on site nature trails. The vision at Leaves and Lizards is to create the perfect blend of adventure, discovery and tranquility for each guest. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Leaves And Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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