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“Leaves and Lizards is such a special place!”

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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Reviewed January 10, 2010

My husband and I spent 5 nights at Leaves and Lizards over Thanksgiving. We couldn't have chosen a more perfect place to stay--Our cabin was secluded enough to give us a real sense of serenity and privacy (and a gorgeous view!), but we also felt so welcomed and at home with Deb, Steve, and their staff. We especially enjoyed the activities that they had to offer right on the property--swimming in the river and horseback riding with Enrique and Chito, our two eagle-eyed and super fun guides. With so many things to do in the area, Deb was a great help in advising us on how to choose our activities and how to structure our days. Another highlight was having a big Thanksgiving dinner with Deb, Steve, and their friends--we all sat around practicing our spanish (or english) and telling jokes and laughing. It was a really fun night! And the food was delicious--every meal was. We also liked the location of Leaves and Lizards--it's close enough to La Fortuna that we had access to all it has to offer, but far enough away that we felt we were out in the "country" and could enjoy the village feel of Alto Monterrey. All in all it's a very special place, and we can't wait to go back!

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank kittensNsunsets
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 9, 2010

My husband and I stayed in the new Coco Cabin at Leaves and Lizards for a full 7 days and it was difficult to leave at the end of the week! We are definitely planning a return visit! A few of our favourite things:

Location: Leaves and Lizards is located on about 26 acres of farmland 20-25 minutes outside of La Fortuna. The beauty of this area cannot be overstated. There are gorgeous trails that twist throughout the property allowing you to get up close and personal with the flora and fauna that abound. Neither my husband nor I are bird-watchers but by the end of the week we were having a blast looking up all the different kinds of birds we saw on our walks and from our porch in the complimentary bird-guide provided in our cabin.

The food/restaurant: The restaurant is a new, open-air affair with amazing views of the volcano. Steve, the owner, has painted an awesome mural of the 'lava lizard' that decorates one of the interior walls of the building. We had breakfast there every morning and it was always delicious (great coffee, fresh juices, fresh fruit platter, and eggs every day served with varying combinations of pancakes, cheese, rice and beans, and bacon). We also had lunch a couple of times (curried pasta, empanadas) and dinner four times (yucca casserole - kind of like shepherd's pie, garlic pan-fried fish, and a traditional Costa Rican roast for New Year's dinner), Dinner was always served with fresh bread and butter, soup, and dessert. Great food, great service, great view, and great company - what more can you ask for?

The cabin: Rustic (in the best kind of way) but super-comfortable and with a spectacular view. The little details were nice - conditioner and shampoo in the shower, fresh flower arrangements, comfy rocking chairs on the porch, bird and wildlife guides on the bedside table, a clothesline outside for damp/wet clothes and swimsuits, coffee maker and coffee, etc. We loved our cabin and our porch - bird song all the time and it was lovely to listen to the quiet horse noises as they grazed on the hill beneath us throughout the day/evening.

The excursions: Debbie was always around to help us plan our day and hook us up with other taxi-dependent travellers to help cut travel costs. NOT TO BE MISSED - the horse back ride to the private waterfall was phenomenal. This is not your average trail-ride as it is 5-6hrs long through breathtaking scenery to a beautiful waterfall. The horses are well-cared for and well-behaved and the guides are great (along with the ride we saw a poison dart frog, a blue jean frog, and a tarantula all thanks to our guide). My husband and I also did a more gentle, private trail ride down to the Rio Arenal (you can walk it in about an hour) through more great country side. Swimming in the river was great!

The people: Staff at Leaves and Lizards are friendly and helpful. Steve and Debbie (owners) are never far - you can always count on seeing them at breakfast and dinner. They are super-helpful and know the countryside well. Paul (who built the restaurant and the new cabins) is also super-friendly, interesting, and helpful. Everyone is attentive and sincerely interested in making sure you are comfortable and well-looked after.

The animals: One of my favourite parts of Leaves and Lizards was all the animals. Debbie often brought Loreeta (their red-lored parrot) to breakfast. Sam and Clyde (the dogs) were always running around the property together. The horses, goats, chickens, pigs, and barn kitten all added immensely to the atmosphere.

In conclusion, we found Leaves and Lizards on tripadvisor. We had always really looked forward to our visit due to the great reviews but we didn't expect just how special this place really is. We spent a full week and would highly recommend at least 4-5 days to really appreciate all the area (and Leaves and Lizards in particular) has to offer.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jennifer O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2010

My husband and I just returned from a five day stay at Leaves and Lizards. What a wonderful experience! We absolutely loved our cabin, Volcano View, and what a view it had!! One of the best parts of the hotel is the food! Excellent local food is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we had nothing that we didn't love. Debbie and Steve are wonderful hosts and you really end up feeling like you're part of the L&L family! Paul is very sincere, helpful and so down to earth, we so enjoyed getting to know everyone there. Words cannot express how wonderful this trip was for us! It's such a beautiful area, we can't wait to return to Leaves and Lizards!

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank WorldTravelerCO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 2, 2010

I found this place on Tripadvisor and we loved. The owners Steve and Debbie were always around and did a great job trying to accomodate us. The place is a little out of the way (of Fortuna--but who cares) and the cabins have great views of the volcano. They opened a new small, outdoor restaurant where you get breakfast and can order lunch and dinner. Dinner was 17$ for adults and 12 for kids. I thought it was to much at first but it was a three course meal, home made with wine or cocktails. Very much worht it and very tasty!. They have a little barn with horses and some pigs that the kids liked, they milk cows right there at 7am which we missed. We took a private guided tour with guide (Oscar-provided by and booked through L &L) to Cano negro which was great--highly recomended $240 all day with our own boat (we drove up ther with guide and had a our own "captain"). We saw sloths with a baby, caimons, cool iguanas, bats and tons of great birds. Lunch was great in the boat in the jungle.
There is a hot spring area at a nearby hotel called the Springs which is only 5km away. $40 gets two day entry and Debbie got us $5 off. It's kind of built up with numerous pools and waterfalls and a nice way for the kids to relax --we did too with some good drinks. We went in the evening once and then early the following moring on our way to Monteverde (Arco Iris--see review). L &L is 2 km up from a nice river that had a great swimming area which is kind of warmed from the nearby hotsprings. This place is not a resort but we came here to be in middle of it all and we felt it. Overall, we loved the place and would come back. Paul was also very friendly-I guess an Innkeeper that was also around and friendly. Regards to all there.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
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Thank J-Boy99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2009

Here is the L&L excerpt from my Costa Rica Travelogue:
San Jose airport is small, well organized and people are very helpful. We are meeting our driver Enrique and the commissionaire finds him via cell phone. A few minutes later we are whizzing off on CR’s version of a super highway and saying to each other “So glad we cancelled our car rental and hired a driver”. We are going to repeat that mantra countless times over the next few hours and days.
This was a pretty last minute trip - the first four days in CR we only booked and planned a couple of days before we left Toronto. Research showed CR is a wealth of natural wonders and we wanted to see what we could while allowing time to relax as well. We decided to base ourselves near the Arenal Volcano for the first few days.
It’s not a hotel, not a B&B, I think we need a new name for it but regardless, we found the perfect base for a few days. The L&L website is full of very helpful information and Deb & Steve (transplanted from Sarasota, Florida) are very responsive to my email requests for more. It was through this correspondence that we came to realize that for not much more than the car rental cost we could save ourselves the hassle of driving in CR as well as our nervousness about possibly having to drive at night due to the time of our arrival. Turns out we would have been driving in pouring rain as well.
L&L is a group of very comfortable cabins, each with a big verandah looking out on the Arenal Volcano. A delicious breakfast is served at the main house each morning. A full restaurant for guests is opening Dec 09 The cabins are very private and quite a hike to the main house – so no guilt about finishing those amazing pancakes!. L&L is formerly a dairy farm and there are still lots of farm animals around, including chickens providing fresh eggs for our breakfast. There are many tours available and the staff at L&L are sure to make sure you get the experience that is right for you. No big bus tours here, everything is personal.
Watching the volcano reminds me of a glacier – at first it seems just a huge inanimate thing but it is mesmerizing, you can watch for hours. It is a living breathing thing with moods and a temper that was under control while we were there. Be careful what you read about seeing the lava flow. It is constantly changing and is not always viewable but it is always interesting.
Our trip from San Jose airport to the Arenal area was quite a wild drive of twists and turns, most of it in pouring rain but we felt safe with Enrique behind the wheel. Once we were in the rural area he stopped at a road side stand and treated us to rambutan –a lychee type fruit fresh off the tree – they look like red sea urchins, you peel back the spiny outside to reveal a lovely fruit – not too sweet and not sticky – perfect car snack.
The rain cleared as we approached the volcano so we took a detour to the other side to try to see the lava at night. It was not to be that night but we will try again. After a quick dinner of casados (traditional plate of black beans, rice, salad, plantain and choice of protein such as chicken, beef etc) we finally got to L&L. Say it again …so glad we have a driver….
We had a faint view of the volcano at night from our bed. When we woke up we were astounded at the view by day – I was on volcano watch from then on, under orders to wake Bob up as the view changed…the beginning of endless volcano shots…
Day two –
Can’t believe we have been in CR for well under 24 hrs, I feel immersed already. A hearty breakfast prepared us for a morning of horse back riding through jungle and forest, crossing a river. A bit of a jungle hike to a waterfall to swim in, all to ourselves. Enrique filled us in on the flora and fauna along the way including beautiful birds, a two-toed sloth as well as the three-toed variety. I’m nervous around horses but these were very well trained and I felt in good hands with Enrique and Chica, our guides. We came back muddy and tired, so were thrilled to find a casados-version of lunch ready for us after we cleaned up.
It was late afternoon by then and we were very tired from a full two days of traveling and touring so we headed back to our cabin after leaving a dinner order with Steve. We took a different trail back to the cabin and saw the monkeys that Steve and Debbie are rehabilitating for release into the wild. Also huge stands of bamboo that look like something out of Jurassic Park.
So glad we retreated to the cabin for the remainder, it wasn’t long until the torrential rain started and went on for hours – we felt so cocooned in our cabin. Later on someone arrived on motorbike with our dinner – the roads are wild at the best of times let alone in the dark and pouring rain so we were really impressed that dinner turned up at all let alone hot and dry…and delicious.
Day three
Woke up to yet another beautiful view of the volcano, she’s definitely in a different mood and Bob takes off to get more shots. We are prepared for a day of hiking after a breakfast of omelettes and delicious biscuits – Steve reveals his secret ingredient, homemade buttermilk he made using his own goat milk.
While on the way to the Hanging Bridges Park we pull over a few times to view monkeys and birds. I’m amazed that while navigating these wild roads Enrique can also spot the wildlife that I can only see through his powerful scope. Hanging Bridges is a private park of very well maintained trails through rain forest – the many bridges, mostly suspension, take you across deep crevasses and allow you to view down into the canopy. We saw many types of beautiful birds, a family of howler monkeys and tons of leaf-cutter ants but the prize sighting of the day was an anteater in a tree feasting on something yummy. We earned our lunch back at the Hanging Bridges restaurant - the black bean soup is excellent, it is traditional to put an egg in the soup. As we ate and took in the spectacular view from the restaurant it started to rain so we debated what to do with the rest of our day – hike the national park at the base of the volcano or take in the hot springs. We were so pleased we chose the hike – the weather changes very quickly in CR and by the time we got to the park it was the clearest it had been in days – perfect conditions for the big surprise of the day. We heard a big boom and were just in time to see the volcano erupt in black smoke with a smaller eruption shortly after. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. As with all nature viewing you have to go in with reasonable expectations so you won’t be disappointed. True, we didn’t get to see lava flowing at night but witnessing the eruption and seeing the volcano so clearly was an unexpected treat. Speaking of treats we had an afternoon snack of termites along the trails – no they don’t taste like chicken, they have no flavour at all really but according to Enrique they have nutritional and bug repellent benefits.
Another full and wonderful day ends with picking up dinner and enjoying on our very private balcony with the priceless volcano view.
We would return to L&L no question and would recommend it to anyone couple, singles or family

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank leapn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2009

This was our third trip to Leaves & Lizards, but won't be our last. The new back porch on the Heliconia House provided so much fabulous bird watching that we didn't want to leave even to see more of the country. Birds would come on to the back porch and even fly right through it. We cooked most of our meals in the Heliconia kitchen, but did eat a few meals at the main house just because the chef (Mireya) is so good. You can't beat her food. Steve & Deb are ideal hosts, with your comfort, education and pleasure in mind. Loved the horseback riding. Loved the livestock. Loved seeing the kids ride during the Saturday therapeutic horseback riding session. Loved exploring the countryside. Loved watching the new restaurant take shape. Loved the fabulous sunsets. Loved the entire experience!

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank TXbabe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2009

We were in the Monkey cabin, and stayed 4 days in April.

Not a 5 star hotel. Exciting 4 wheel drive road to get there. Nicely kept, cabins with full wall windows overlooking the volcano, jungle, and wildlife. Also had deck just beyond window to get view outside. Room had bunk beds and two other beds (3 doubles and one queen) that were clean and comfy, basic shower, no bath, coffee maker, some utensils, small refrigerator, table and chairs, games, book, binoculars, and a safe.

No egyptian cotton, no AC, but stunning scenery and a cabin built to fully take advantage of the beautiful location. Not completely private - since there are cabins nearby and another was being built that can be seen from the wall window, but far more private than any hotel area.

Meals are served at the main house where owners live and eaten in their kitchen area. It's a very social atmosphere. You are dining with the owners, other guests and staff included in your conversations. The food was quite good with excellent local fruits always on display. Loved the fresh made breakfast juices.

Owners (both American ex pats) were very helpful, almost to a fault if you are more adventurous and want to do more on your own, but they can help guide you to local trips and locations if you want.

You can visit the farm animals, or ride the horses (riding is a for a fee), and there are always friendly animals to lavish with attention. Milk the cow, help collect the eggs, or don't - your choice.

You can also get day passes to some of the local 5 star resorts and use their pools, bars, hot springs and restaurants to get that 5 star treatment - then return to your much more reasonably priced, fantastically placed, cabin.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled with friends
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1  Thank skiingmomUsa
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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