The Perfect Place To Stay In The Costa Rican Jungle – Rio Perdido
Written by Jaillan Yehia
Rio Perdido – literally meaning lost river – is one of those paradise hotels that you can’t quite believe exists this far off the beaten path; you wonder how anyone first discovers it while being simultaneously glad you did – and hopeful that not too many other people have been let in on the secret…
In fact the last thing I expect when I’m an hour’s drive from tiny Liberia airport, itself a 75-minute flight from the Costa Rican Capital of San Jose is to arrive at a chic set of cute and contemporary multi-coloured jungle bungalows, which will be my base for the next few days.
I’m here to take on the hotel’s own set of tropical trials; I’ll tackle the area’s natural assault course; a combination of zip lining and rope swings and bridges over the canyons rounded off with a stint at tubing in the thermal river below.
But the good news here is that being at one with nature and embracing an adventure holiday is going to be combined with style and sophistication. Little design touches that get a hotel geek like me squealing with excitement are evident in abundance here, from the cutest throw cushions I’ve seen in a long time to a running theme of colour pop accents everywhere.
What’s unique about Rio Perdido is that all the activities on offer are actually within the hotel grounds. And not in a Disneyland kind of a way; the hotel has been carefully crafted and created to give guests the best out of what the world famous Costa Rican nature has to offer without imposing on it.
I’ve come to try all the options the thermal river can throw at me – from navigating the canyon adventure, a sort of extreme zip-lining circuit involving skinny suspension bridges and rope swings to discovering white canyon tubing, as well as enjoying the more sedate pastimes of bathing in natural volcanic mud and swimming in the hotel’s own blissful thermo-mineral pools.
I’ve been zip-lining before, so luckily I know that while I will be scared, I will enjoy it. This time the addition of a Tarzan-style swing means I absolutely love it, even the bit where Jane (that’s me) gets pushed back and forth on the swing over a giant precipice, instead of being caught by my guide as promised, which is hilarious only in retrospect – and of course to the people watching from the overhead platform.
River tubing is by turns an adrenaline-fuelled rapids challenge interspersed with periods of lazy-river style floating so sedentary I have time to pluck flowers from the banks without leaving the comfort of my tube and place them in my friend’s hair.
It’s all topped off with a wicked workout, as I carry my giant tube uphill to the waiting jeep and trade it for a dry towel and a ride back to the restaurant, where I’ll be rewarding myself with another tasty but healthy meal and a cocktail, because my shift in holiday style isn’t that seismic.
In fact the nightly cocktails along with the Costa Rican suppers are one of the thing I look forward to most at the hotel’s architecturally-impressive, circular-ceilinged restaurant. Oh and the fresh fruit and Gallo pinto at breakfast too.
The only slight spanner in the works is that it’s actually really hard to concentrate on your food when you have friends, well monkeying around, in the treetops that surround the open air restaurant, so most days I take a break halfway through eating to watch jump dexterously from tree to tree and they watch me back.
This may be a great place to do some wildlife viewing, but it isn’t the place for animals of the party variety – so most evenings after a full schedule of outdoor activities I’m happy to retire to my hammocks for a beer and get an early night.
What I really like about Rio Perdido is that you can go all Conde Nast Traveller one day – donning your best designer bikini to luxuriate in the hot springs in the stylish man made pools, before popping up to get a massage at the spa.
Then another day you can channel National Geographic, hiking along the thermal river to enjoy the healing properties of the very same thermal waters in their natural river setting, and even get a natural, and I mean natural, mud bath into the bargain – this time very grateful that not too many other people have been let into the secret at Rio Perdido.
Rio Perdido is a straightforward 60 km drive from Liberia airport, close to the tourist-friendly area of Arenal.
Liberia is easily accessible with Costa Rican airline Nature Air (though you can also fly with Sansa) but watch out for the very small baggage allowances to go with the very small planes – these are strictly enforced too.
The hotel itself is secluded and there are no other facilities within walking distance so it’s a good idea to bring whatever you think you might need for your stay.
More information can be found on the Rio Perdido website.
SavoirThere was a guest of Rio Perdido
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