Tirimbina Rain Forest Lodge
Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
Tirimbina Rainforest Lodge offers an immersive ecotourism experience in one of Costa Rica's oldest and most vital research centers, the 850-acre Tirimbina Biological Reserve, which is a registered National Private Wildlife Refuge. Stay deep within the tropical rain forest while helping to conserve its biodiversity, as proceeds from the lodge directly support conservation research and education efforts on site. Scientists have conducted studies here since the 1960s, and current projects include comprehensive monitoring of the tropical rain forest biome, bat monitoring with the use of mist nets to trap them, and studies on butterflies (1400 species are found on the reserve!) and the reproductive biology of tropical birds.
Accommodations here are simple but comfortable, with individual terraces that front the lush tropical gardens around the lodge. The real luxury is the proximity guests have to the pristine rain forest environment and the chance to learn from biologists and naturalist guides on a whole host of nature-focused activities. More than 5 miles of trails lace the reserve, offering visitors a look at varied habitats from gardens, wetlands and riverbanks to both primary and secondary rain forest. Two suspension bridges provide exciting access to forest reaches not accessible from the ground. The first bridge across the Sarapiqui River is one of the longest in Costa Rica at 860 feet. The second bridge is 360 feet long and rises 115 feet above the ground into one of the least-explored parts of the rain forest for most visitors, the canopy.
Guided activities include natural history walks; birding with a local guide (365 species live on the the reserve; emblematic species include snowy cotinga, sunbittern, white-fronted nunbird and black-crested coquette); night walks when rain forest animals are most active (look for sloths, the famous red-eyed tree frog, porcupine, kinkajou and more); a chocolate tour on a traditional cacao plantation where you will have the opportunity to taste the cacao bean at its different stages in the process of making chocolate.
Before and after each day's fascinating activities, refuel with classic Tico and international dishes at El Ciebo restaurant, which also specializesin organic wines and different varieties of top-quality Costa Rican coffee.