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“the sort of place you dream of”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of La Leona Eco Lodge

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La Leona Eco Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Bonsall, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“the sort of place you dream of”
Reviewed March 26, 2013

We travelled around Costa Rica staying in various lodges but this was definitely the highlight of the trip. The accommodation was simple but very comfortable - a lovely outdoor 'coconut ' shower, private toilet, great beds. The view was stunning and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore was a fantastic backdrop to the hot and steamy nights. There was plenty of wildlife to be seen just by staying on the camp but the night walk and hike into the Corcovado National Park were special. As another reviewer says, the staff were brilliant - laid back and unfussy, but helpful and knowledgeable at the same time. The food was absolutely first class - like very very good home cooking without any pretentious fancy bits (and if you are lucky Paulo the chef will sing you song too!), and there was always plenty of it. The fact that meals were eaten family style, meant that here we met and became instant friends with some great folk - something that didn't really happen at any other place. We loved it and would like to be there right now. We even enjoyed the hot walk along the beach (glad the horse and cart took our bags though and that we were given umbrellas to shade us from the sun). We thoroughly recommend this place.

Room Tip: Some tents are higher up the hillside so you need to be up for a climb if you have one of those - ho...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank hilaryandchris
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Rochester, NY
Level Contributor
17 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2013

I just returned from a five night stay at the La Leona Eco Lodge outside of Corcovado National Park, on the Osa peninsula in Costa Rica. All I can say is ‘WOW’! I had read some wonderful reviews of this family-run lodge and I was expecting a lot. My expectations were far exceeded. This place is incredible.

Before I get into the review, let me first say that La Leona might not be ‘for everybody’. It’s a bit of a trip to get there. A one-hour Nature Air flight from San Jose to Puerto Jiminez, followed by a 1 ½ hour bumpy cab ride to ‘the end of the road’. There, you leave your luggage at the La Leona Base Camp (it will be brought to the lodge via a horse cart). You, on the other hand, have to get to La Leona via foot, on the beach. We were told it was about 2 ½ km to the resort. It took us about a half of an hour to reach the lodge. To me, however, his remoteness is one of the most wonderful things about La Leona. As such, there were no kids at the lodge (apologies to parents for my views – I’m sure that there are some children mature enough to handle the lodge). The adult-only atmosphere that I experienced made for wonderful conversation at dinner between guests, and also afforded very quiet walks thru the woods. The remoteness of the lodge also filtered out ‘high maintenance’ guests. Everyone there knew what they were signing up for. There was never a complaining word about the lack of creature comforts. I shared meals with wonderful travelers from England, France, Switzerland, Germany and the States.

Back to the review of La Leona - Once there, and refreshed with a pineapple drink, my traveling companion and I were shown our tents. Simple, permanent tents on strong platforms. The tents in the front row had their own bathroom with toilet, sink and cold water shower (coming out of a coconut shell!). Two chairs with cushions sat outside of the tent, on the covered ‘porch’. Inside the mosquito netting of the tent were two cots with comfortable mattresses and clean sheets/towels.

After freshening up, we went back to the bar area and met Danilo Alvarez, our guide for the next four days. I signed up for every tour that Danilo offered, and was not disappointed in any of the outings. My traveling partner and I took a 9 hour private tour into the Corcovado National Park (just a five minute walk from the lodge) with Danilo. This tour cost $120 total, plus $10 apiece for entrance to the park. We walked about ½ way to the Serena Ranger Station, ate a box lunch, and then returned to the comforts of the lodge. We passed only a handful of other travelers all day. On this tour, we saw two Baird’s tapirs, one sleeping in a bog, and the other out feeding. We saw our first spider monkeys, at a distance, and we were lucky to get a very close encounter with a troop of white-faced capuchin monkeys. Lots of birds, marine life, and reptiles were also seen. Along the way, Danilo pointed out many different types of trees in the primary and secondary forest, explaining their part in the eco system.

Needless to say, we were quite tired when we returned to the lodge and were very thankful for the cold beers and wine available for purchase (I think the beers were $5 US and don’t remember what the wine cost. My bar bill for five evenings, which included several beers and a glass or two of wine per day was $118. I was able to charge this bar bill to my credit card at the end of the stay). (We were requested to pay for our tours in cash, at the end of our stay).

The food was excellent and plentiful. We had two dinners of chicken, one of pork, one of mahi-mahi and another of tuna steak. Each meal was accompanied with salad, beans and rice and a side of mixed vegetables. There is plenty of free water and juice to drink all day/night. By the way, we were told that the water was safe to drink. It was provided to the lodge by a very nearby underground spring and was filtered before being delivered to the sinks at the lodge. I was not aware of any traveler at the lodge that had any bad experiences because of the water. (While in the Corcovado National Park, we refilled our water bottles from a small spring-fed stream. That water was perfectly fine to drink).

The next day, we took a group tour (although we were the only ones who signed up) that was a combination bird watching (we left camp at 6:00 am) and a demonstration on pan gold mining. We saw many, many different birds – the Macaws being the most beautiful. After checking out the birds, Danilo introduced us to an older couple that lives on the river outside of the park. They make their very difficult living panning for gold. To get to their claim site, we walked up the river (and over many rocks, under/over fallen logs) for about an hour. There, we watched the miners clear rocks from the river bed, exposing fresh soil. This soil was then panned by hand, exposing very small quantities of gold dust. It was very interesting. This tour cost $40 per person.

That evening, we took another group tour at night with a walk up the river that separates La Leona property from the national park. We saw all sorts of toads, crabs, spiders, crustaceans and more. This tour cost $25 per person.

I finished each evening in silence, with a glass of cold white wine on my porch, listening to the constant pounding of the Pacific Ocean on the beach in front of me. It was heaven.

The next day, we joined Danilo on a two hour tour of the La Leona reserve. We saw a couple of toucans and a poisonous blue/green dart frog. We passed over a huge colony of leaf cutting ants, and watched as Danilo ‘summoned’ the army ants from the colony by thumping the ground with his walking stick. Later, we came across a large troop of spider monkeys that shook the trees and beat their chests, in an effort to scare us away from their territory. It was incredible being that close to these primates. This tour cost $30 per person.

On my last full day I joined two British travelers for a 5 hour morning tour back into Corcovado National Park. On this trip we were rewarded with a troop of squirrel monkeys. At the same time that we were taking pictures of these monkeys, Danilo called to us to see an ant eater walking on the limb above our heads. Later we ran into a couple of coatis and an agouti (a rather large and fast brown rodent). This tour cost (I think) $45 per person.

The following day, with a bit of remorse, we left La Leona, and walked back down the beach to our awaiting cab. We had an incredible visit there, splitting time between wonderful nature walks and quiet moments of pensive thought.

I would not hesitate to recommend La Leona to any nature lovers in search of an off-the-grid visit to a great park. Please note that there is no wifi, no cell phone service, and (other than one set of plugs in the office for recharging camera batteries, no electricity). It was pretty hot and humid at night, making sleeping a bit of a challenge, but the rewards far outweighed the slight discomfort.

Just a couple of other notes – I walked the first two days in my Teva’s, as we criss-crossed many small creeks. Later walks were done in a pair of lightweight hiking shoes/socks. The night walk in the river was done in rubber boots, supplied free of charge by La Leona. Walking sticks were always available for use (and very much appreciated). The trails in Corcovado are mostly flat, and run approximately 85% in the shade of the forest and 15% on the beach. (In March) we didn’t encounter a single mosquito. As such, all walks were done in short sleeves and short pants. We did put on sun screen as a protection against both the sun and ticks (apparently ticks don’t like suntan lotion). I didn’t have a single bite from any insect for the five night excursion. Some people might find falling asleep to the loud Pacific waves difficult – I found the waves very soothing and had no problem sleeping. I did appreciate the front-row tents having their own bathroom/shower. The staff was very welcoming, friendly and helpful. Danilo was always available when not giving tours, and spent many hours with me identifying the various frogs, birds and such that I had captured on my camera. He has lived in the Osa Peninsula his entire life and has been guiding tours for over 27 years. He was great.

Equipment notes: I brought my Canon 60D, 100-400mm IS L lens, 24-105mm IS lens, a +1 and +2 Hoya close-up filter for the 100-400, and a lightweight tripod/ballhead setup. I used the 100-400 almost 95% of the time. The 24-105 was just used around the lodge, taking pictures of the tent, bar area and other guests. If weight was an issue, I’d probably not bring the 24-105. I used the close-up filters just a couple of times, but was glad that I had them with me (I forgot to bring them the time that we ran into a blue/green poison dart frog!). I didn’t use the tripod once – it was a total waste of weight and luggage space. Shooting in raw/jpg combinations, I almost filled a 32gig card, and had one extra that was unused. I brought my laptop to San Jose but decided to leave it at the hotel instead of bringing it into the jungle with me. (good move – would not have been useful at the lodge). Prior to going, I purchased two 10 gram silica gel canisters on eBay. I put them into zip lock bags and stored my camera gear overnite, to help prevent moisture problems with the equipment. I kept up with ‘laundry’ using the sink in the tent and biodegradable camp soap. My nylon-ish camping clothes dried overnight on the little rubber clothesline that I strung between two of the supports of my porch.

In all, I’d rate my experiences at La Leona an easy 10 out of 10. If you can do without electricity and wifi for a few days, then you’ll love it too.

Email me if you have any questions.

joearena

Room Tip: Go for the front row tents, with the private baths and the wonderful views of the Pacific.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
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8 Thank joearena
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
Level Contributor
26 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 14, 2013

Well, La Leona Tent Camp has everything to offer. They have the Corcovado National Park just next to their property and the ocean at their doorstep! For those who are not eager 'campers' La Leona is a terrific way to introduce them to nature and camping. It is what I consider Luxury Camping. The tents are heavy duty and on platforms above the ground and the beds are on frames. No electricity in the tents but where else can you camp and have all your meals prepared for you! Real camping (and I like real camping by the way) means you have to pack all your personal necessities and also cooking needs and food and ice and tents and bedding and etc. etc. etc. So for a true camper this is luxury. The showers are open air and private. Quite nice to take a shower 'outside'.

The Staff was terrific, all with very friendly smiles and a willingness to help with anything. And if I can give extra attention to Chef Paul and his kitchen crew...his meals were fantastic! We stayed at another place after LaLeona (more upscale), But Paul's meals were by far the absolute best! A nice added touch was that Paul and Daniella played guitar after dinner.

If I could add anything to the camp, it would be a cool swimming pool after a day of hiking!

Thanks to everyone at La Leona.

Room Tip: Tents on the beach were nice and close to the lodge. You have to hike up the hillside to get to the...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank CarmenFlorida
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gatineau
Level Contributor
23 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed March 9, 2013

La Leona is a wonderful lodge in a breath-taking setting. We had an incredible vacation in January 2013. The staff was gracious and welcoming and the chef & sous-chef tantalized our taste buds with impressive meals. They met my dietary requirements with inspiration and creativity. We drank the water without hesitation and had absolutely no issues. We were saluted in our stunning coconut shower by howler monkeys and scarlet macaws overhead. Our beautiful jungle bathroom lent us the odd reptile and unexpected wildlife guest. The “collectivo” truck ride from Puerto Jimenez to Carate is rugged and dusty, but once you arrive and start the invigorating beach walk towards the Lodge you will cherish the journey that brought you to a piece of heaven. The remoteness of the lodge was significant enough to make us feel like we were on the edge of the earth yet close enough to not be too intimidating. The tent was immaculate with its white linens & drapes and enveloping hibiscus arch hedge.
The highlight of our trip was an incredible trek to Sirena Station with Danilo Alvorez, he truly is an exceptional guide. Be prepared for the incredible heat and humity as the hike to Sirena is intense and demanding, it is actually 22 km each way, not the 16 km as the toucan flies like some reports made it sound, it took us 9 hrs. Bring lots of water for the hike and travel as light as you possibly can. We highly recommend a knowledgeable guide to keep you safe and enhance your experience. Be willing to rough it at Sirena Station, although the rangers and volunteers prepared great traditional meals, the station itself is in need of repair. The washrooms are a bit derelict. The vinyl mattresses are hot and noisy and the travellers before you may not have left the room as tidy as they should have. Going there with the right mind set, you are in the jungle after all, will definitely help you appreciate its remoteness. Being there brought us right into the richness of the jungle and we were grateful for the opportunity to benefit from its existence as we were told the Costa Rica government may not support lodging at the station in the future.
Overall, the endless beaches, spectacular coastline, lush rainforest and wildlife all around truly made our vacation at La Leona a trip of a lifetime. One word sums it up completely, “Paradise”. Sharon Ivall & Jim McEachern, Quebec, Canada.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Sharon_IGatineau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rotterdam
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed February 16, 2013

We spend three days at the end of januari 2013 at La Leona ecolodge .
From the first minute we arrived at the lodge we decided we would ever return back to this
incredible location.

The staff is very friendly, especially Adrian and the big chef (remember me, the NONI man).
This lodge is about 500 meters from the Corcovado Nat. Park.

The tents are simple, but is has got everything you need.
The beds are great.

We will return back to this perfect accomodation.

Room Tip: Heaven on earth
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank Frans T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fremont, Michigan
Level Contributor
15 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 27, 2013

This place is amazing! Though hard to get to (a 1 - 2 hour taxi or collective bus ride along a bumpy road followed by a half hour walk or horse and cart ride down the beach), it is well worth the effort! We spent two nights and most of three days at this place and thoroughly enjoyed it! Our "tent" provided a great view of the Pacific and was an adventure, with its candlelight in the evening and cold water in the bathroom. We never experienced any biting insects but did enjoy watching the leaf cutting ants. The pleasant staff is ever ready to help guests. The food, served in the main lodge, was plentiful and delicious. The pace is whatever you want it to be, as you can spend your time in a hammock or chair by the ocean, or you can explore the area. We took a 6 hour hike, making use of one of the lodge guides to show us the flora and fauna of the nearby national park. We would not have seen nearly as much if it hadn't been for our very alert and knowledgeable guide! We highly recommend that you go to this out of the way place! Don't expect fancy but instead down home comfort coupled with off the beaten path opportunities. You will have the experience of a lifetime. We hope to go back!

Room Tip: Some tents include a bathroom, others have a bathroom next door. Most have great views of the ocean...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank becky t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed January 24, 2013

I love this place. Sure, I saw more wildlife staying there than anywhere else in Costa Rica, I woke up in a beautiful tent staring at the ocean, and had three meals included daily, but the important thing is the people; the bartenders, the cooks, the staff, and the owner. It is refreshing to talk with a family that has been in the area for almost a hundred years now. The drinks are poured generously, along with everything else.
That being said, it is a little tough to get out here. The collectivo can be rough sometimes, but the road is not that bad. Also, there is not much to do except hike. The surfing ok, but the not the best (you can ignore the rip current warnings). I think this is a good thing as it keeps the up tight gringos at bay.
The tents are not for modest people. They don't really shut that well, but we were up front so there was a good breeze and surprisingly very little bugs.
The prices keep going up, but a great stay nonetheless.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Otis3000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Leona Eco Lodge

Property: La Leona Eco Lodge
Address: Playa Carate, Carate, Corcovado National Park 2388, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Osa Peninsula > Corcovado National Park > Carate
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Carate
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — La Leona Eco Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are located at the entrance of Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, nestled in the most beautiful, primary rainforest and surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Come and see for yourself what paradise looks like, and enjoy all the attention and accommodations of a lavish stay in the wild! Prepare yourself to embark on the journey of a lifetime! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Leona Eco Hotel Corcovado National Park
La Leona Eco Lodge Costa Rica/Carate

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