I had an amazing opportunity to sleep in a semi-exposed treehouse cabin in a Costa Rican rainforest. While the fact that I did this shocked many friends (and maybe even my husband) due to my stifling fear of spiders and critters, my only regret is that I did not stay longer. Let me tell you why La Tigra Rainforest Lodge should be on your travel bucket list:
See stars you did not know existed.
The moment we arrived and parked our rental car, we both had our breath taken away by the amazingly crisp and clear view of millions of stars. Being in complete darkness (more about that later) with a lack of light pollution really allows you to stargaze like never before. The sounds of the rainforest only make this more magical. My tip is to venture out near the parking lot (just a bit before the check-in desk) to stargaze. You can see a lot more here than you can in your room. Be sure to bring a flashlight as you don’t want any territorial confrontations with any critters in your path.
Hear the most incredible, relaxing sounds while you sleep.
If you’re like me, you like to listen to soothing sounds, especially at night. I often have my go-to Alexa night playlists including ocean and rainforest sounds. I cannot stress enough the pure intoxication of hearing real rainforest sounds, with no barriers. The cascade of different sounds in the night beckon the imagination to go truly wild. From tree frogs to birds to cicadas (as well as a number of unknown “mystery” sounds), you will be dreaming more peacefully and vividly than ever before. Some reviews will say you may need earplugs, my advice is to let yourself hear the full richness of noise that will be billowing softly through your treehouse throughout the night.
Eat good. Eat local.
Not only are the staff extremely nice, but they are good cooks too! Breakfast is included in most rates, and very tasty! Our breakfast came with Gallo Pinto, eggs and toast. I also recommend eating dinner there as well. The chicken fajitas were amazing and don’t be afraid to try the local spicy sauces. We also tried a local craft beer brewed with ginger that was very tasty. Note that the kitchen does close at 8 p.m., so prepare to eat earlier rather than later. We arrived a bit late due to traffic, and they actually accommodated us by whipping up some dinner even though the kitchen was closed. It was such personalized service!
Explore the rainforest.
La Tigra Rainforest Lodge offers a night tour, cooking class, and the ability to plant a tree. While we arrived a bit too late to embark on the night tour at 7:30 p.m. (which was super disappointing), we did catch the group at the end of the excursion and got to see a snake. The guide really knows where the animals may be and shares a plethora of knowledge about the wildlife and plants in the area. Since we missed our tour, we were offered the chance to plant a tree, which sadly, we also missed. However, they did say they would plant a tree in our honor. One of the most amazing things about staying in this hotel is the ecotourism aspect. Costa Rica has lost over 80% of it’s rainforest due to deforestation. It feels good to give back in what little way we can. LTRL is doing their part to expand the rainforest in their area by planting more trees that will support more animals and more life. In addition to all this, you can embark on your own journey on the trails surrounding the hotel.
Be one with nature.
There is really something special about sharing your space with nature. One of the most incredible moments for me was laying in my hammock watching leaf cutter ants carry leaf pieces up a tree nearby as a beautiful, bright-bellied bird flew by. There was so much life all around me, and it made me feel complete joy. My biggest tip staying here is taking a moment. Really, take a moment. Put away your phone (after you take amazing photos, of course). Really unplug and just enjoy the amazing peace that comes from respecting the beauty and life all around you.
Some cautionary tales.
If you do choose to stay here, please do keep in mind that there are a few things to be aware of that could affect your trip.
Beware of the road to get there.
The first caution is the bumpy and perilous ride up into the hotel grounds. You may see reviewers telling of harrowing journeys in rental cars up steep and rocky roads. This is an understatement. We arrived after dark and this “gravel road” is more like a small boulder road. It is not wide enough for two cars and has a couple of steep drop-offs. We did not heed the warnings, and we were, in fact, in a sedan. If you have no choice but to rent a sedan, just take it slow. The 3 kilometers took over 37 minutes to navigate as I was using extreme caution. The good thing is that the road did not seem to be busy and we did not have to scale any cliffs to let other cars pass. However, you have been warned! If you can go in an SUV, you will be much happier as the large rocks do tend to hit the undercarriage in a small sedan.
Beware of bugs.
First, let me start by saying I was amazed at how FEW bugs I actually had to share my space with. Remember, the treehouse villa you will be staying in has three tarp walls and an open balcony with only a mosquito net. This means that any critter who wants to snuggle with you in the night has permission to do so. BUT we were pleasantly surprised as the room was so clean and we only had a few “visitors.” Among our house guests (that we saw) were two buzzing bees (one got lost inside in the middle of the night), a giant palmetto bug, and a few moths and flying bugs. I did NOT see any spiders or mosquitoes (hallelujah!). However, they ARE around and can very well be in your space. The good news is that you have a very good mosquito net that completely seals around you when you tuck it near your mattress. So while they may be having their own party in your room, you do not have to cuddle with them.
Some noises may be a bit scary in the dark.
It was very windy the night that we stayed. This lead to what sounded like a jaguar on our tin roof in the middle of the night. I thought for sure we were an early breakfast, but it was just a branch crashing on top of us from the wind. I heard a few more unidentified noises throughout the night that had my imagination running wild. Keep in mind that there are critters around. We saw a few cats, snakes, as well as an opossum outside. However, none of those critters came into our space. Keep in mind that it is pitch black dark in there in the middle of the night. However, whenever I had any doubt, I used my flashlight to check the room and quickly returned to my slumber.
This is more like glamping than a hotel.
I bring up this point just in case someone is expecting modern luxuries here. For one, the shower water is cool or lukewarm as it is an ecoresort with solar heated water. There is one outlet in the bathroom for your phone/hairdryer. There is no television (and if there was, it would be a true shame!). If you come here, come here expecting to enjoy nature!
All-in-all, this experience far exceeded my expectations. If you are planning a visit to Costa Rica, I really think you should include this in your itinerary. The relaxation and exposure to nature is a sure way to appreciate some of the beauty that Costa Rica has to offer.
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