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“Great birding--comfortable lodging”

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Los Tarrales Reserve
Monteverde, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great birding--comfortable lodging”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2013

We stayed two nights in Los Gordon in the Casona. It has 2 twin beds that they pushed together and made up as one bed because I requested that in advance. The room was very clean and spacious although the bathroom is very small. A fan kept us comfortable and the setting was nice and quiet. (Other than when a very excited birder was heading out at 2:30 am to see the horned guan. :-) We enjoyed the garden and feeders right outside the room.
I will add our voice to those praising Josue as a birding guide. He is not only personable and speaks English fluently, he knows all the local birds and their songs and calls. One of the best birding guides we have had anywhere!!
We elected not to try for the horned guan because the hike sounded too physically challenging for us, but there were plenty of other birds to keep us happy on the lower trails. We have birded extensively in Central America but saw half a dozen or so lifers. We went out for 3 separate hikes with Josue. We felt the fees were very reasonable, especially considering the very high quality of guiding.
Judging from other reviews, I guess it is very useful if you can write to make your reservation in Spanish. (If you don't speak Spanish, consider using Google Translate.) We got very rapid and useful answers. I let them know in advance that I don't eat meat and the cook was very accommodating about making things to my desires. Like many people who don't know vegetarians, she tended toward meals that were vegetables. I requested a source of protein such as eggs or beans or cheese and the meals became delicious and satisfying. She definitely aims to please. If you have special diet restrictions keep in mind that there are a few English speakers around, including Josue and I'm sure they would be happy to help translate. The home made bread is wonderful. The packed breakfast you can get for early morning walks is very good and super convenient. All servings are huge.
Other reviews mention biting insects. I didn't bother to use any repellent but I ended up with a half a dozen very itchy bites from a kind of black fly (I believe). I guess I should have used some repellent but there were so few bugs around I didn't.
To get there we took a private lancha (boat) across Lake Atitlan from Panajachel. Then we went by micro bus. On the way back we decided to avoid the lake since it can be very rough in the afternoon. So we took a "chicken bus" to Goldones and changed to a micro bus to get to Pana. This is very inexpensive and definitely a cultural experience and a crowded one at that. The nice thing was that Los Tarrales had an employee drive us to the road and flag down the right bus. Without his help it would have been nearly impossible to do as the buses speed by and there are lots of different destinations. We really appreciated the help; it was a final touch on a very nice stay.

Room Tip: Rooms all have twin beds. If you want a "matrimonial" tell them in advance. Claudia told u...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
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Thank rududucarolina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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31 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (9)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
north carolina
Level Contributor
45 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 26, 2013

We stayed 3 nights with our interest being exclusively birding. Others may be interested in the ornamental plants or coffee finca. There seems to be lots of trails. i assume you can wonder on your own but our down time was spent recuperating from morning walks and preparing for afternoon ones. We were assigned a super guide, josue, who is 4th generation on the Finca and spoke great english. On one day we had Aaron, who was josue's younger brother who found us some elusive Trogans and motmots and a mottled owl underneath a dense canopy. Our 6 birding outings ( 3 morning and 3 afternoon) yielded nearly 100 "well viewed" sightings. The guides were super willing to please and look for your favorites. we love kingfishers and the green kingfisher was extraordinarily elusive after 3 outings to find one. as we are loading our suitcases to leave, aaron showed up to say he had found it and we saw it quite well. There are platforms for bananas in the back yard and all kinds of orioles, tanagers and a blue crowned mot mot show up to take advantage. Cinnamon hummingbird is a constant. The horned guan is a major draw but the commitment seems extraordinary with no viewing guaranteed , of course, as other guests who were there at the same time can attest. We didn't try it. I did end up with lots of bug bites and I was prepared with deep and bug-proof clothing.
We stayed at the more expensive Casona room, which was adequately roomy and airy. It was not luxury but we were quite comfortable. We were able to use a large floor fan which helped move the air. Food was super generous and well prepared. We are vegetarian and we had a lovely variety for every meal. Wine, beer and soft drinks available. We were well taken care of. We did have a time lag in trying to book the room, so by the time they responded we had booked something else. We ended up booking another time slot thru cayaya who was quick and responsive.

Room Tip: For a few dollars more go for the Casona rooms. 2 available
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Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Nancy252
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
57 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 29, 2013

Los Tarrales is not your typical hostel. They don't seem particularly serious about being in the hospitality business, as their primary enterprise is a 7,000 acre coffee and ornamental plant farm. So, they may take a couple of days to respond to an email about a reservation, and may not respond to some emails at all. We actually cancelled our first reservation with them because they never responded to an email inquiring about the total cost of our stay and they didn't answer the phone when I called. We did make a second reservation, and we're glad that we did.

They have very few English-speaking staff, so an email in English may well get a response in Spanish. Be aware that the restaurant doesn't have a menu, you get whatever the cook prepares. Having said that, if you let them know in advance what you need or want, they will try to accommodate. We only stayed one night and didn't provide any food preference, so we ate their interpretation of what westerners usually like to eat. After chatting with the cook a bit, it was clear that, had we told her that we'd prefer 'comida typica' she would have been happy to prepare it. The meals were a little expensive for what was served, however the portions are large and you are certainly free to bring your own food, although there is no place to cook it.

So, having said that, we enjoyed our stay. We were in Las Chachas. The room had two single beds, which we pushed together to make our cama matramonial. The rooms are roughly appointed and if you have food with you be sure that it's in sealed containers, as ants and other insects will seek it out for a meal. The bathroom was quite small, but the hot water in the shower was adequate. The setting is definitely on the rustic side. I think that every vehicle that the farm has ever owned is still on the property, and a small display in the former administration building offers some items from farm's history. Approximately 35 families live on the farm in pretty traditional Guatemalan campesino housing. There are a couple of churches and a primary school on the grounds.

The real reason to come here is for the birding. We are not avid birdwatchers, but we like to go when the opportunity presents itself. Our three hour walk started at sunrise. We saw about 35 species, basically all on a very easy path that starts about 100 yards from the door to our room. At this time there is only one english-speaking guide. His name is Josue and he was excellent. He knew the birds extremely well and was a pleasant companion for the three hour walk. He is the fourth generation of his family to work on the farm and has an interesting life story thus far.

We only spent one night, so we didn't do any of the more extensive tours that are available, and we didn't go up into the higher elevations that offer different species. The place is, quite simply, alive with birds. As an added benefit, the view of Fuego is superb. At this time, the volcano regularly burbs smoke and ash, and, occasionally, lava as well. One thing to note, the biting insects can be intense. You will need long sleeves and a high-quality bug repellant to be comfortable walking in the woods. Deep woods off won't cut it. Things are pretty much on the honor system, as we had to tell them what we had done (walking tour for two), how many meals we had eaten, how many drinks we had taken, etc. Without our input, they would not have been able to prepare a proper bill. If you don't speak any Spanish, bring a phrase book and make an attempt. The staff will really appreciate it and I think you may get better service.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank michaelszippy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
130 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 20, 2013

I would agree with the other reviews re the birding and Josue Guia Tarrales, the bird guide. That said, the accommodations are basic. Clean. Functional. It is a beautiful place and definitely a community.

Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank Edna A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Atitlan
Level Contributor
224 reviews
48 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 165 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 16, 2011

I visited Los Tarreles after hearing about the finca for many years. It has long been a bit of a "travelers secret". It is widely known within the birding community, but mostly missed by the casual traveler. The finca itself is several 1000 acres of protected nature reserve. It is a working coffee finca, an exotic plant nursery, and a great place for birding.
Josua has been the main birding guide for 8 years, and is very knowledgeable. He gave us the choice of starting VERY early in the morning to see a few of the most exotic and unusual birds, or starting at sunrise to see many more varieties of birds. Over the 4 hours of our tour, we listed over 40 varieties.
The bonus suprise was running into photographer Thor Janson. He was on the reserve photographing birds, and we had a nice visit. His books are famous in Guatemala and around the world and it was a pleasure to met Thor in person.
The accommodations at Los Tarrales are basic but clean, the food is very good, and the birding and overall experience was excellent. I can recommend Los Tarrales.

Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank kayak-atitlan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South & Central America
Level Contributor
73 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 4, 2011

We have been sharing this jewel with the travelers of Explore Guatemala since before Tarrales even had a lodge. Since Monica and Andy built the lodge, we have been staying over night with our travelers and enjoying the home cooked meals in the main house, the quaint (out of Africa) rooms in the lodge, and the venues of this wonderful authentic finca. The birding is some of the best in Central America, they have an old fashioned coffee operation, raise tropical flowers and plants for export and for the markets in Guatemala. over 250 Maya live on this finca - the finch provides medical services, three Churches, a school (and even retirement) for the families who work and live here. This place is a "must see" if you are in Guatemala. Only an hour from Panajachel and on the backside of Volcano Atitlan.

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank GrahamBlaikie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
93 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 24, 2011

If you are looking for a great place to see some of the most beautiful and colorful birds in the world then look no further. The accommodations range from good to excellent and come with meals included. All the working staff make you feel at home with their friendliness and service. Our birding guide, Josua, was exceptional. He's a trained guide born and raised in the area and knows everything there is to know about the reserve and the wildlife. Part of the reserve is also a working community that grows coffee and various plants and flowers, all of which are exported throughout the world. They are very ecologically minded which is evident throughout the reserve. This is one of my favorite places in Guatemala.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank joetrekker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Los Tarrales Reserve

Property: Los Tarrales Reserve
Address: Km 164.2 Ruta Nacional 11 | near San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala
Location: Guatemala > Western Highlands
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 69 Specialty Lodging in Western Highlands
Number of rooms: 3
Also Known As:
Los Tarrales Reserve Guatemala/Western Highlands

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