This has got to be one of the most expensive hotels in Costa Rica. Is it worth it? Probably, but that will depend on your budget. The high quality rooms are either in the lodge building or in one of 3 duplex bungalows; a pair of rooms joined but set apart in the lodge gardens to provide privacy. We stayed in Room 10 (joined to room 11) which had a forest “view” and good access to trails. Other bungalows seemed to have views of the garden, though we didn’t visit any. If you are looking for quiet, the bungalows are probably the better choice since the lodge is largely taken up by the kitchen and dining areas, and shared areas such as the veranda and living room. Birders tend to go out on the lodge veranda at day break, so noise early in the morning could be a problem for non-birders. Room #1 is directly above the kitchen, but has its own private balcony and hummingbird feeder, so may be quieter. Our bungalow room was large and well lit with one entire wall of glass, high ceilings, and two double beds. The elevation of the lodge made air conditioning unnecessary, and indeed, it is not available. In late March, evenings were pleasantly cool, but not cold.
The lodge is a lovely building with dramatic arches outside, and gorgeous hardwood construction inside. The public veranda sports 5 extremely active hummingbird feeders, and looks down on several fruit tables and a small water feature. Bird activity in and around the lodge garden is high and the variety good. The family that owns the lodge also protect about 125 hectares of jungle and pasture with well groomed, though steep, trails. Birding here was quite good with many nesting birds and mixed flocks encountered. We hired a guide named Harry B. for a morning bird walk around the property and he was able to show us several difficult to find species. The evening hummingbird bathing at the pools is not to be missed and is worth the climb. Do bring binoculars to fully appreciate these belly flopping balls of glitter.
The hosts, Ramon and Lisa were often present and took dinner with the guests, giving the lodge their personal touch. Their generous hospitality extended to allowing guests to visit the gardens at their personal home where one of the trickier bird species visits. It is these personal touches that make the difference and why I say that, yes, the price is worth it.
Food was good and fresh, served family style. Beer and wine were available. Free wifi was available in the lodge building. Access to the lodge is via a 3 km dirt road that was passable in a small two-wheel drive car when dry, but may be quite tricky in the wet season.
The only complaint we had was that the sheets on one of our beds was so rough and “pilly”, that it was like sleeping on sand paper. We had them replaced for our second night. Also, the plumbing workings were a bit off, and if the user didn’t push the flush lever back beyond the up position, it would gurgle, all night long. In fairness, just about every hotel we stayed in had issues with toilet mechanics requiring some adjustments to stop them leaking, running, or gurgling. What is it about toilets in Central America?
Something the lodge could really benefit from would be to place some of their hummingbird feeders in the garden, away from the veranda so photographers could take advantage of the natural light. The feeders now, though at close range, aren’t placed to maximize their photographic potential. Just a thought. Would I stay here again, yes, but due to the expense, probably not often.
- 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