Key reason why we chose Leaves and Lizards for our stay was to see Volcano Arenal glowing at night - just as many other lucky visitors of L&L did earlier. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived (December 2008), the lava flow has changed, and a slight delay in the beginning of dry season also meant that Arenal enveloped itself in clouds - perhaps, just to show us that man proposes but nature disposes! Even so, a view from our cabin (Monkey) was not a disappointment - lush, green, beautiful, with no human beings or structures in sight. We were at the edge of wilderness, with all calm and peacefullnes that it entails.
The Monkey cabin itself was lovely, with wrap-around porch and unique floor-to-ceiling windows facing Arenal. It is exactly what you see on L&L website, with no less, although no more amenities: an L-shaped room with a queen-sized bed, a table, a refrigirator and a bookshelf, but no dresser. In our travels, we typically prefer to stay in places that are remote but not isolated, so that we avoid the tourist crouds or many signs of civilization, yet have the said civilization within easy reach. L&L is closer to isolated than remote, with only one restaurant (in Monterray) within 15 minutes drive (on an unpaved road, it would have been a 5 min drive on a paved one), and the rest (in La Fortuna) within 40 minutes of travel (on paved road; so count on 1.5 hrs there and back).
Breakfasts, which were included in the price of our stay, were tasty and sumptuous, but home-cooked lunch was just OK. I was also not thrilled about a horseback riding trip we took and to which I was looking forward. About a quarter of the trip goes through other farmers' fields, with barbed wire on both sides of that stretch of the road. So, if your horse it not in a riding mood that day (as mine was not), you risk, just as me, having barbed wire scratch your leg and slice into your palm (palm being used to push against the wire to prevent it from going into the leg :)), and a pair of new $85 pants ripped by the wire. Changing horses with a guide helped, and by now (January 2009) the scratches and gushes competely healed (thank you, Neosporine!), so permanent damage to pants only :-).
Two things compensated for the misadventure above and got L&L four stars. First, it is relatively inexpensive (we paid $116 per night including tax). Second, and far more important, L&L employs fantastic nature guides. Ours, Enrique, truly opened for us the secrets of Costa Rica wild life, and showed us an amazing trick of taking wildlife photos though the lenses of his binoculars. We also really enjoyed the company of our hosts, who gave us good advise on what to see given weather conditions, including recommending a truly amazing trip to Rio Celeste, which was not on our initial itinerary, and which turned to be one of the highlishts of our Costa Rica adventure. And, at the end, we were able to observe Arenal in action at night, courtesy of the tour arranged by L&L with Enrique. Enrique took us and the other guests to a spot where one could see lava, and when the rain clouds cleared for just one moment, we glimpsed red lava rocks being hurled downhill. It was quite a sight!
- 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
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- 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