Packed with wildlife and adventure and one of the happiest nations in the world with charming people and 100% clean electricity. Costa Rica may be small but it packs a punch and although a magical destination for any traveller it really is a match made in heaven for families.
In ten short days, I experienced Caribbean beaches, rainforests teeming with wildlife, volcanoes spouting plumes of smoke, and zip lines crossing deep, river lined gorges. Dozens of beautiful rivers criss-cross the country – Costa Rica has the second most rivers in the world in relation to its size and Pacuare River is probably one of the most famous. My journey along this river and stay at Pacuare River Lodge has to be a highlight of my recent trip. It is easy to see how Roberto, the owner of the Lodge fell in love with the river some 30 years ago and thank goodness he did. With amazing vision, passion and love for his country, wildlife and people he really has created a special place in a truly stunning location.
Imagine telling your children that they are going to stay in a hotel in the middle of the jungle and to get there you will be white water rafting! That would certainly be an adventure to share back in the classroom. Available to children aged 12 and over a stay here is the perfect opportunity to leave the iPads and phones at home and re-engage with adventure. I didn’t want to leave which is a testament to the unique arrival across grade two and three rapids, the beautiful accommodation, the wonderfully welcoming staff, delicious food and the range of amazing activities on offer. I spent an afternoon abseiling down waterfalls, canyoning and then walking to a stunning hidden waterfall which cascaded 30 metres into an infinity pool below – perfect for a dip. It felt as if I was in my own miniature heaven.
With no electricity at the lodge, it is magically lit by candlelight at night. They use the environment to its best with a hydro generator and solar panels as well as methane gas produced from the excrement of the resident pigs then used for the hot stones massage at the spa. The staff at the hotel are employed exclusively from local villages and I was surprised to see the gentleman who expertly tutored us across the rapids in the morning then serving us lunch before leading us across zip lines in the afternoon. The staff are like one big family and they all work extremely hard to create an atmosphere that is polished yet fun. Next year will see the addition of a swimming pool at the lodge so there will be even less reason to leave.
Falling asleep at Pacuare to the sounds of the jungle and the thundering river then waking to the prehistoric roar of the howler monkeys is something I will never forget. How I would love to return with my children one day.