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“Top Notch Birding Lodge”
Review of Rancho Naturalista

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Rancho Naturalista
Ranked #1 of 12 Hotels in Turrialba
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 6, 2013

We spent three days here and it was one of our favorites of the trip. They have a very nice setup with hummingbird and platform feeders which attract a good variety of very nice birds, including some of the more uncommon hummingbirds. We found everything as noted by others, and have a hard time time saying anything bad about the managers, guides and staff -and as noted by others, the food is excellent. Several small items may be important to some visitors, though - like the fact that the trails are steep and can be muddy - of course, that is the price to pay for birding in this setting. The one thing that did bother us was that when we were settling our bill upon departure, we were told that they do not take credit cards. We would have preferred to know that ahead of time when deciding on whether to purchase extra drinks and tours.

Room Tip: Room 1 has it's own balcony and private entrance
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Joel T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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171 - 177 of 237 reviews

Reviewed January 17, 2013

I made an excellent choice in Rancho Naturalista for our first trip to Costa Rica. I'm heavily into birding, but my husband is less so, and is a very fussy traveler. So when he accompanies me, I look for a place that will keep him happy while I indulge my passion for watching the birds. Rancho Naturalista is a warm and comfortable family-run establishment that caters to birders, but the accomodations, food and hospitality are a treat for anyone looking for an authetic travel experience.

I splurged on a private car to pick us up and transport us from the San Jose airport to Rancho, knowing that this would alleviate any anxiety over road travel, and I'm glad I did. Travel by car is slow and bit hair-raising in Costa Rica, so leaving the driving to someone else was key. Rancho is on a fairly well-travleled road, but not foolproof to find, and the drive is quite long, steep and a bit rough in spots. However, on arrival just in time for dinner, we were greeted warmly, settled in, and fed the first of our excellent meals. The food at Rancho is prepared fresh and served family style, with a great selection of fruit, vegetables and juices to go with the meat dish served at every meal. We loved every meal we ate at Rancho, and the service is prompt and friendly at every turn.

Rancho is owned and managed by an American expat family, with a mostly local staff, many with long experience at the facility. English and Spanish are the main languages, but we also met Swiss and German guests, on whom I practiced my very limited German. Because meals are served family style, it's a great place to meet other travlelers, almost all of whom share an interest in birds.

We stayed in Room 2 in the main building. Room 2 opens directly onto the balcony above the feeders (and where 3 of the hummingbird feeders hang), so it's not the quietest spot, but the lodge was not full while we were there, so we found the traffic manageable. I loved being able to just step out the door to the feeders and the fresh coffee placed out at daybreak, but if you aren't sociable first thing in the morning, this may not be the room for you. People are coming and going, and sounds from other rooms and the kitchen are clearly heard. Didn't bother us, but we sleep with a fan going, so that white noise helped.

Many reviews don't mention the spectacular view of the valley and the two volcanoes (Irazu and Turrialba) from the upper balcony, but it is not to be missed. My husband spent many hours on the balcony enjoying the views and the feeders. The weather can be changeable, and it's lovely to watch the clouds and sun move over the terrain, and the smoking volcano is always a fascination.

Of course, the birds were my mission, and Rancho does not disappoint. Our first morning birding the feeders was an embarassment of riches, with hummingbirds, tanagers, warblers, sparrows, robins, and dozens of other birds coming and going in a constant stream. The oropendolas, chacalacas, aracaris and tanagers are showstoppers, but we also saw parrot flocks and Keel-billed Toucans flying by regularly. We were guided by Harry on numerous occasions, but were also able to spend some time with Cali picking out birds from the balcony and at meals. Both are top-notch guides, and a pleasure with which to spend time. Harry stays at the lodge and functions also as sort of an on-site concierge when Lisa and Mario (the managers and part of the founding family) are not there.

We walked some of the trails, visited the pools, and one morning Harry took us to see the spot where moths and insects gather to a lighted screen which attracts birds that eat insects. Each trip yielded more and more birds, way more than I expected to be able to see.

As part of our week-long stay, we were entitled to a day trip, and Lisa created one for us that accommodated our interests and mobility perfectly. We went to Tapanti and then stopped at some hostorical sites and a few other spots to bird and check out the local countryside. It was a fabulous day and again, we saw many more new birds than we could have hoped.

I would recommend Racho to anyone traveling to Costa Rica who has an interest in a warm, comfortable lodge with excellent food and service. The birding is absolutely phenomenal, but it's such a treat to have it all in one package. We were treated like family members, and can't wait to go back.

Room Tip: If noise really bothers you, one of the rooms outside the main lodge might be your best choice. I...
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank SusanCPA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2012

We were privileged to stay at Rancho Naturalista for two weeks in October 2012.

The birdwatching opportunities are brilliant with well maintained feeding stations, an excellent network of forest trails and remarkable natural pools where hummingbirds bathe. It was also easy to arrange birding half or full day trips to different habitats.

The birding experience was further enhanced by our local bird guide, Cali, who is extremely helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He is also very patient!

Our upstairs room was large, comfortable and stylish with patio doors opening out onto the balcony with its superb views. The owners are very friendly, helpful and accessible; going out of their way to ensure that we were happy and had everything we needed. This welcoming attitude was also true of all the staff who worked at the Lodge who provided excellent personal service. Meals were served family style and home-cooked by the chef, Vinicio. They were professionally presented and tasted delicious.

Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful Lodge and we certainly hope to make a return visit.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank NorfolkBirder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 15, 2012

My second visit here everywhere birds and with mountains surroundings great time 2013 I will visit again..no doubt.... And also the hiking was good for me not too hard so I really hope more travelers will find this almost secret spot and the service was excellent too bad no swimming pool. But who needs one. When they have super qhot showers for after a long walk..

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank Jerry L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2012

Brought a group of 12 from New York here. The owners, staff and guides could not have been nicer. The feeders were visited by hordes of hummingbirds, the trails were (considering the mountainous location) easy and well maintained, and the meals were excellent. This place has the easiest, best birds of anywhere in Costa Rica. If you want to chase after rare birds, like the Thicket Ant-pitta that our remarkable guides got almost everyone to see, this is the place. If you just want to take a casual stroll in the rainforest, and be astounded by beautiful birds from the patio, this is also the place...

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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5  Thank BklynGuy68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2012

Only had 2 nights, wish it had been a bit longer. Really relaxed, excellent fresh food, great birding with hummingbird feeders on the balconies buzzing with birds. More great birding on the forest trails, the birds will wake you up -no need for alarms! Allow yourselves at least 3 nights.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank bikingbirder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2012

We were told this would be basic but as birders we wanted to experience it. We were so glad that we did. Our room was amazing, clean, comfortable and with wonderful views. The food was amazing, and the company was excellent.
Lisa, her husband and the guides were very friendly and welcoming and made us very much at home. All the staff were helpful and friendly. Lisa was more than happy for us to sit in her garden (she lives down the road from Rancho) so we could watch the snowcaps.
Harry guided us and he was fantastic. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of birds and other things and was enthusiatic about sharing his knowledge. Cali was also knowledgeable and pointed lots out to us.
We learnt lots, spotted lots of birds, and also managed to relax and just enjoy where we were.
If you want swimming pools and spas and restaurants then this is not for you, but if you love nature, just want to soak in the countryside, and like to chat with like minded people this is definately a must for your visit.

Room Tip: Room 1 gives good access to humming bird feeders and garden feeders
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  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank filligirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Rancho Naturalista

Address: 1 Km este de Tuis de Turrialba | Tayutic, Turrialba 7150, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Cartago > Turrialba
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Hotels in Turrialba
Price Range: $125 - $153 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The premier birding lodge in Costa Rica, Rancho Naturalista is among the finest in Central America. There are plentiful hummingbirds on the large, open upstairs balcony where you can view the distant smoking volcano. Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the area. You can hike and bird the trails on your own, and excellent guides are available as well. At Rancho Naturalista the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, and the staff are friendly and welcoming. This comfortable lodge is famous for its excellent food, well prepared, and made with the best fresh local ingredients. (All meals are included.) The weather is almost perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful getaway for bird watchers, hikers, and nature lovers! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rancho Naturalista Turrialba
Rancho Naturalista Hotel Turrialba
Rancho Naturalista Costa Rica/Turrialba

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