Costa Rica Travel News – Costa Rica is one of the world’s most popular eco-tourism destinations, with travelers drawn to national parks, reserves and rain forests. We selected 10 of the best eco-lodges in Costa Rica.
At Finca Luna Nueva, guests are encouraged to reconnect with nature by living the simple life. In 1994, Steven Farrell – a self-described health-conscious hippy – opened a small, organic herbal farm near La Fortuna, the gateway to Arenal Volcano national park. Since then, the project has grown into a 207-acre biodynamic farm and an eco lodge built from fallen trees. On the Sacred Seed garden tour, guests can smell and taste the results of the biodynamic process and learn about the healing properties of trees and plants on guided walks in the neighbouring rainforest. Afterwards, wallow in the ozonated pool or solar-heated hot tub, or salute the sun from the yoga platform ensconced in jungle greenery, before some fine organic dining.
• Doubles from £57 including breakfast and farm tour, +506 2468 4006, fincalunanuevalodge.com
Rara Avis Rainforest Lodge and Reserve
It takes effort to reach this legendary lodge, a bumpy, three-hour tractor ride up a steep, muddy hill from Las Horquetas de Sarapiquí, but it’s worth it. One of Costa Rica’s first private reserves is home to untamed primary forest and some of the country’s most beautiful trails. Amos Bien, an authority on sustainable tourism, set up the pioneering project in 1983 to show that conserving the rainforest could be economically viable. His land borders the eastern edge of Braulio Carrillo national park and serves as a wildlife corridor for jaguars, tapirs and more. Accommodation is rustic and there isn’t always electricity but you can swim at the base of a spectacular waterfall and marvel at the unpolluted star-studded sky.
• Doubles from £100, including meals and two guided tours a day. A two-night stay is recommended, +506 2764 1111, rara-avis.com
Close to the Caño Negro river and Lake Arenal, Rancho Margot is part off-the-grid eco lodge, part self-sufficient organic farm, part science laboratory. In 2004, Chilean-born Juan Sostheim bought 400 acres of a former cattle ranch and began to replenish the decimated land with endemic flora and fauna. Still a work in progress, they grow their own crops, produce their own electricity, build their furniture from reforested trees and make biodiesel using leftover cooking oil. Accommodation ranges from spacious bungalows to bunkhouses and horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, waterfall rappelling and yoga are all on offer. Afterwards, you can ease your muscles in rock pools before a farm-to-table feast.
• Bunkhouse doubles from £88 a night, including all meals, a two-hour guided ranch tour and twice-daily yoga classes; two-night minimum stay, +506 8302 7318, ranchomargot.com
Danta Corcovado Lodge
This Costa Rican family-owned lodge is set on the Osa peninsula, one of the country’s wildest and most isolated areas, close to the boundaries of the wildlife-rich Corcovado national park and the indigenous Guaymí people’s Alto Laguna reserve. There’s accommodation to suit all budgets from bunkbeds to a master suite with an indoor-outdoor bathroom. The buildings were constructed from reforested wood that the owner’s father planted – and nothing has gone to waste. Hike the park’s trails, kayak through mangroves, explore the forest by night, go dolphin-spotting in Golfo Dulce or just lounge on a deserted beach. You’ll fall asleep to a tree-frog chorus and wake to the chatter of passing squirrel monkeys.
• Doubles from £68 B&B, + 506 2735 1111, dantacorcovado.net
Dantica Cloud Forest Lodge
Tucked away in a cloud forest clearing in San Gerardo de Dota, this Dutch-Colombian family-run lodge hasn’t sacrificed style for sustainability: mixing contemporary European design with Latin American folk art. No trees were chopped down to build the lodge and floor-to-ceiling windows allow the outside to stream in. The valley is a birder’s paradise with trails through the Savegre Forest reserve and virtually guaranteed sightings of the resplendent quetzal at the nearby Los Quetzals national park. You can also climb the second highest peak in Costa Rica, covered in páramo vegetation with views over the Irazu, Barva and Poas volcanoes. And on cold nights, there are ethanol-fuelled fireplaces to sit round.
• Doubles from £62 B&B, +506 2740 1067, dantica.com
On a clear day, you can see over the cloud forest all the way to the Pacific Ocean from this Swiss-chalet-style hotel. Family run, it opened in 1985 and has been committed to environmental and social responsibility from the start. Now it has a dedicated sustainability department to implement its programmes, from reforestation to a biodigester that cleans waste water, and it does not recommend four-wheel drive tours. The nearby cattle ranch-turned private reserve, Curi Cancha, which has fewer visitors than the Monteverde Cloud Forest biological reserve, is made for walking. Guests can also take the trail behind the hotel up Cerro Amigos, the highest point of Monteverde, before a dip in the alfresco hot tub and a dinner of gourmet local produce.
• Doubles from £75 B&B, +506 2645 5201, hotelbelmar.net
Posada Rural Cerro Escondido
In the heart of the Karen Mogensen wildlife refuge on the remote Nicoya peninsula, Cerro Escondido is owned by not-for-profit Asepaleco, a grassroots conservation and environmental organisation that helps to generate income for the communities around the reserve. Reached by an hour-long hike – or by horseback – the original farmhouse remains, along with four simple, solar-powered wooden cabins that hold up to four people. There is also a vegetarian-friendly alfresco dining room with views over the tropical forest, where howler monkeys provide the wake-up call. There are hiking trails to suit all levels, along with guided birdwatching tours and trips to the spectacular Velo de Novia, which cascades for 18 metres down a cliffside.
• Doubles from £87, including all meals, +506 2650 0607, asepaleco.com
Set in over 2,000 acres of forest in the Talamanca Mountains near Limón, Selva Bananito is flanked by the Bananito river on one side and La Amistad biosphere reserve on Costa Rica’s east coast on the other. The enthusiastic owner, Jürgen Stein and his sisters decided to conserve and reforest part of their family farm and turn it into a biological reserve, and they constructed wooden cabins – built Caribbean-style on stilts – using discarded and salvaged wood with no electricity, only solar power. Try your hand at tree-climbing, waterfall rappelling and horse-riding. It’s location means that you can combine rafting on the Pacuare river with a visit to Tortuguero national park on the Caribbean coast.
• Doubles from £62 B&B, +506 2253 8118, selvabananito.com
La Leona Eco Lodge
This locally owned glampsite is set in a 75-acre private reserve of primary rainforest, at the edge of the wild and wonderful Corcovado national park. A cluster of 13 simply furnished tents are set on wooden platforms, each with comfortable mattresses, mosquito nets and private terraces. By day there are panoramic views over a black-sand beach swept by Pacific rollers, after dark solar-powered lights and candles light the way to the alfresco restaurant. Hike the trails by day and night – the park is home to the four native species of monkey and magnificent macaws. Or just swing in a hammock and wait for the wildlife to come to you.
• Doubles from around £112, including breakfast and dinner, +506 2735 5705, laleonaecolodge.com
Hotel Villas Gaia
Fourteen cosy casitas are esconced in jungle on the south-west coast, with a private trail straight to Tortuga Beach. It’s close to several national parks, including the Marino Ballena, where humpback whales migrate each year from December to April; diminutive Manuel Antonio, where one of the last vestiges of coastal rainforest is flanked by picture-perfect beaches, and the Térraba-Sierpe national wetland, Costa Rica’s largest mangrove swamp. Take to the water and try your hand at surfing and paddleboarding. Or you can take part in the hotel’s environmental education programmes on mangroves and sea turtles. It also works with a women’s group from the village of Ojochal on cultural and social issues.
• Doubles from £47 B&B, +506 2786 5044, villasgaia.com
Sarah Gilbert, The Guardian