Most things worth seeing in Costa Rica are nestled at the top of a winding mountain road. Natural wonders and relaxing escapes are always calling you to pack up the car and make the slow and steady climb into one of the many green mountains of Costa Rica. Your reward for your efforts? Replacing the sounds of scooters and trucks for the chirping of birds, swaying of trees, rumbling of a river, and hypnotic rhythm of the afternoon rains in dense jungles.
Rio Chirripó Lodge is a secluded retreat tucked away in the rich forests of Chirripó National Park. The beauty of the Lodge is endless, and I was lucky enough to spend 4-days enjoying the incredible amenities and the amazing food.
"Oh Hey" Anxiety, My Old Friend
In typical Hesitant Adventurer style, as soon as the date approached for the retreat, my mind flooded with every potential terrible scenario and outcome imaginable.
Anxiety bubbled up to the surface about all of the minutia and also big, scary, natural disaster kinds of things. To make things easier for you, let's break these anxious ramblings into categories, shall we?
General Recurring Costa Rica Anxiety
Snake bites, poisonous spider attacks, fire ants, landslides, earthquake causing Costa Rica itself to slide into the ocean. Wildfires. A car crash on the insanely windy roads of Costa Rica, where driving has been aptly described to us as like playing a video game, where the stakes are life and death. Scorpions. Eating spiders in my sleep. Large tarantulas. Baby tarantulas. All tarantulas really.
Yoga Retreat Specific Anxiety
What if I am actually terrible at yoga? What if I fall over, fart, or otherwise embarrass myself in class? What if my roommate is cooler than me and we don't get along? What if she snores? Worse, what if I SNORE. ALL of the bathroom sharing anxiety (I'll let you fill in the blanks here). Food poisoning. More falling over in yoga or not being flexible enough. Not being good enough at it. Not being good enough...period.
Arriving at Rio Chirripó Lodge is like being greeted by a long lost friend. It's the first thing I noticed upon arrival at Rio Chirripó. The warm welcome from amazing owners Oriana and Frank, and their staff, provided us with the peaceful energy we needed after running into unexpected delays, causing our journey to be longer than anticipated.
Their warm welcome was only the beginning of an incredibly hospitable visit.
When it comes to the rooms at Rio Chirripó Lodge, there is no bad one. My room was Casa Cafe, a double queen bedroom, with a bathroom, walk-in closet, kitchen, and balcony with a great view of the dense green jungle below. It was just outside the main building, which houses the dining room, kitchen, bar, and lounge.
Some rooms, like the Rio Vista River Cottage, are a bit more secluded as they are farther away from the main buildings. If you’re traveling alone, with friends, or are there with your partner, there is really something for everyone.
Each room has its own unique style and characteristics, but they all have the same relaxing, soothing vibe. Our rooms were cleaned daily and when we arrived we were greeted with fresh flowers from the Lodge’s gardens and local organic chocolate. Those little touches make the experience extra special, and really show the care and consideration that Oriana and Frank put into ensuring everyone has a relaxing stay.
Yoga at the Lodge
I was invited to attend a yoga retreat at the Lodge by my incredible yoga instructor Leah Maclauchlan, and while being hesitant at first, having never been on a yoga retreat before, decided that Costa Rica was the perfect place to try it out.
We had six yoga classes and three meditation sessions over the course of the 4-day retreat. The Lodge provided all of the mats, props, straps, blankets, and bolsters needed for our classes, which was amazing. As a digital nomad, I don’t travel with all of the yoga accessories you might find in a typical studio. Things like blocks and bolsters are out of the question when you live out of a backpack, so it was nice to have access to all of the accessories I’m not able to travel with.
The yoga studio is a detached building just slightly removed from the rest of the main building. This open air space has a high peaked roof and windows that frame the surrounding green mountains like a postcard. Openness and high ceilings act as a playground for chirping birds and, as we discovered at a sunset session, bats! In typical Costa Rican fashion, nature blends and overlaps with life, rather than being separate from it.
A crackling wood fire, carefully started before each session, filled the studio with the comforting scent of a wood stove. It brought me right back to being at home in Canada, reading a book in front of the fire on our cottage’s lake. With this, brought more intention to my practice; a groundedness I didn’t know was there and didn’t know I needed.
Candles were lit in the centre of the room for evening sessions and the smell of the wood fire and rain, mixed with lavender and peppermint essential oils, incorporated naturally into the practice. If I close my eyes, I can smell it now. So soothing!
The combination of our amazing instructor, Leah, the lovely group practicing, the studio itself, the location of the retreat, made these the most powerful yoga sessions I have ever experienced.
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The food at Rio Chirripó Lodge is absolutely incredible. You can feel the love and care that went into each meal we ate.
The chefs and team preparing the food used ingredients grown on the grounds, as well as dairy sourced from a nearby family farm, owned by the mother of one of the staff members. The Lodge team centers around family and it's easy to feel the love.
Most of the meals were plant-based, though we had a little bit of fish and chicken in two meals. The staff were so accommodating and even those who were vegan and had gluten intolerances were provided with tasty options to suit their unique needs.
Honestly, the food was a huge highlight. I had been intermittent fasting but opted to eat every day while we stayed at the Lodge. Boy, am I glad I did! My favourite dish was the roasted vegetable ratatouille served at breakfast. It was rich, full of fresh tomatoes, and warm. I have never had ratatouille at breakfast before, but I will absolutely be trying it at home.
Each meal at the Lodge was better than the last!
Things to Do
There are lots of activities at Rio Chirripó Lodge to suit everyone: from the ultra-adventurous to the chilled out among us (aka me!). Some of the yoga retreat group ventured on a hike on Chirripó Mountain and said the views were incredible, well worth the hike.
I, being The Hesitant Adventurer, opted for river-side meditation, hammock lounging, reading novels, sipping cappuccinos, and soaking in the hot tub instead. It was DIVINE.
There is also a spa at the lodge which I didn't use, but they offer body scrubs and massages that I will have to try next time I visit.
To find out more about all of the activities available at the Lodge.
I Can’t Wait to Go Back
My visit to Rio Chirripó Lodge was such a powerful and restorative experience.
Whether taking an afternoon nap in my comfortable bed, reading in a hammock, stargazing in the hot tub, floating in the beautiful pool watching the clouds roll by, or meditating by the rumbling river, the entire 4-day visit to the Lodge was incredible.
I only wish I had been able to stay longer and sink even deeper into the experience.
Rio Chirripó Lodge is a must-visit on your trip to Costa Rica. Find out more about the lodge here!