Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Costa Rica Part 5

Our first view from the balcony at Lapa Rios Lodge made the whole trip entirely worth-while. The lodge is built on the crest of a hill so you have nearly a 360 view of the land below. On two sides are jungle-covered hillsides complete with parrots, howler monkeys, and toucans. On the third side is a breath-taking view of the ocean. All the architecture is designed to blend in with the jungle, and so you feel like you really are a part of your surroundings.

Sometimes you go to a hotel or resort, and find the grounds to be lovely, but your room is then a disappointment. This was not the case at Lapa Rios. We actually had the room used in the promotional pictures. I shouldn't actually say "room" since each bungalow is stand-alone with a balcony over the hillside complete with hammock. The beds are large, white, and draped in yard upon yard of white mosquito canopy. The effect is incredibly romantic. Why am I trying to describe this place in words? Here is the website complete with pictures. Keep in mind that the reality is better than the pictures.

The food was the next pleasant surprise. Many vegetarian options were available at every meal, and the quality of the food was excellent. We tried all sorts of new things. My favorite recipe was something called Volcano salad which involved native greens (a bit like spinach only tougher and more flavorful), red cabbage, peanuts, and tofu tossed in sesame lime dressing. I still dream about it at unexpected moments. M was very happy with the seafood offerings as well. Probably being close enough to see the ocean help quite a bit in this department.

As for entertainment, Lapa Rios is well-prepared for those travelers who are willing to be at least a little energetic. Many different hiking opportunities, both guided and un, are available. M and I did some of both, and we were amazed by the number of animals were got to see on the one mile self-guided tour near the lodge. Monkeys (that one above is an actual pic I took near the lodge), Poison Dart Frogs, Agouti, and Toucans just to name a few. The guides at Lapa Rios are also quite incredible in just how much they know about the ecosystem of the area. We went on night hikes, coast hikes, and hikes along the Osa Trail. It was the kind of experience where you stop yourself part way through and think "Wow, I'm really here doing this!"

If you ever have the chance to visit Lapa Rios, TAKE IT! This was, by far, the best accommodation on our trip. The only people for whom I would not recommend Lapa Rios are those who want to shop and see city life, or those who cannot handle a lot of walking. We loved the lodge, we loved the staff, we loved the jungle, we loved the animals, and we didn't want to leave.

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