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“Nature Destination with Superb Hospitality”
Review of Rancho Naturalista

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Rancho Naturalista
Ranked #1 of 12 Hotels in Turrialba
Certificate of Excellence
San Antonio, Texas
Level 4 Contributor
49 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Nature Destination with Superb Hospitality”
Reviewed 16 June 2014

We spent a weekend here with the Birding Club of Costa Rica, and we saw many bird varieties. Our hosts were amazing, especially Lisa, who is very kind, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable about the birds and local points of interest. The food was wholesome and delicious, served family style, with the meat being raised right on their farm. There are many trails to hike for wildlife viewing; bring your binoculars for the birds that prefer to keep their distance. They have hummingbird feeders where you can view the "locals" close up. They also have a night light that they leave on to attract moths and bugs so that in the morning you can watch the birds that come in to dine. Our group had two bird guides and they were both excellent. Lisa can hook you up with them. We stayed in cabina #7 which was rustic but adequate and comfortable; I only had a peek at one of the rooms in the Lodge but it seemed more nicely appointed than our cabina. Overall, we had a lovely experience. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because the signs posted to help you find the place are somewhat lacking, making it difficult to find. When you see the first Hydroelectric sign (white) on the right side of the road, Rancho Naturalista's sign is darker colored and right behind it, but almost hidden and hard to see as you whizz by. When you see that white Hydroelectric sign, stop and look up and to the left, where you will see another sign for Rancho Naturalista, about 20 feet up their gravel driveway which begins across from the white Hydroelectric sign. Plan to arrive during daylight, because the place i.s easy to miss. Our phone navigation and GPS led us astray to a location well past the turnoff. We had to double back and ask locals for directions (in Spanish). Best to have 4 wheel drive for the long, steep, gravel driveway up the hillside. When you come to a fork in the driveway and wonder which way to go, LOOK UP to see the sign to direct you to the left and not toward the house on the right; this sign is also easy to miss because it is so high up. This is a nice place and definitely worth going. Be sure to ask Lisa if you have questions or need anything, she is an amazing hostess. They should definitely put up more signs (further from the turnoff) on the main road to help get you there.

Room Tip: Ask for a room in the Lodge. The upper level rooms open onto a large balcony with hummingbird feeder...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Judy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 14 August 2014
Thank you for taking the time to write a review for Rancho Naturalista. All your wonderful compliments are greatly appreciated. Thank you for the advice about the signs. I am thinking of how to make the signs for the lodge more visable so that people can find it easier without them becoming overly conspicious. Since we are isolated we like to keep things low key. We hope to see you back again at Rancho!
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231 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Victoria, Canada
Level 2 Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 10 June 2014

Rancho Naturalista is truly a gem. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to stay at Rancho Naturalista for 3 weeks as volunteers helping out with the goings on of the resort. What an amazing, unforgettable experience we had. We met the sister of the owner (Lisa) earlier during our travels and she put us in contact with the ranch in regards to a work stay opportunity. Lisa was unbelievably accommodating and immediately welcomed us to the ranch and made us feel like family.

First of all, the ranch is located in some of the most beautiful rainforest highlands in the world. The climate is absolutely gorgeous and cool, and we came during the low season. The grounds are beautifully maintained, and there are fantastic hiking trails up into the mountain behind the ranch where you can find an abundance of birds, butterflies, cool insects, snakes, and if you're lucky like us, a Tarantula! The hummingbirds at Rancho are the most special highlight. At all hours of the day, many varieties can be found zipping around the front lawn from feeder to feeder, some coming so close to your head you can feel the whoosh of air as they speed past. Definitely make your way to the natural pools down the hill to catch a glimpse of the elusive Snowcap.

The staff is incredibly hard working and attentive, and give off a wonderful sense of family. The owners Lisa and Mario are wonderful and engaging and work hard to make sure the guests' experience is memorable. The ranch is partly self sufficient and has a working farm behind the scenes. Fresh dairy, chicken, and pork are all raised and used by the ranch. (These were our favourite daily chores.)

As far as food goes, oh my goodness. Vinicio, the head chef, is a truly gifted young man. Every meal is absolutely stunning. He cooks up a variety of traditional Costa Rican and international fare, (the farm cheese flan with guava puree was insanely good). The family style dinner is also a great way to meet fellow birders and a lovely way to end the day.

The rooms are beautiful, each offering unique styles and views of the grounds, and the cleaning staff keep everything fresh and taken care of.

Rancho Naturalista will always have a special place in our hearts, we are extremely thankful to Lisa and Mario for allowing us to volunteer there and we hope to come back someday soon to visit.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Haystack22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 16 June 2014
Thank you so much for the really nice review. We enjoyed having you both here at Rancho Naturalista. The staff at Rancho are still talking about how hard you worked. They were amazed that someone from another country would come and take an interest in learning to do the everyday things that they (the Costaricans) do here. It gave them much happiness to have you working alongside them! We wish you luck wherever you go. Someday your travels will bring you back to Rancho Naturalista once again, and when you do, know that you have friends waiting to welcome you back!
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Santiago de Puriscal, Costa Rica
Level 6 Contributor
93 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2014

We spent a weekend at Rancho with a group- the Birding Club of Costa Rica - expats and Costa Ricans that go all over the country on birding trips. The reason to select Rancho was because of its reputation for birding, and it did not disappoint! BUT... if you are not a 'birder' but want to see a really beautiful part of Costa Rica and have a wonderful time - head to Rancho. First, the rooms are wonderful - we stayed in the Lodge and see for yourself in the photos - beautiful room looking out over both the hummingbird feeders and a spectacular view of the valley and the Irazu and Turrialba volcanos. Meals are another huge plus - seriously great food . We are vegetarians and they are well prepared and served some of the better vegetarian dishes we have had in the country. Service is incredible - Lisa the manager and her team are attentive, helpful and cater to your every need. Hiking , horseback riding are available , and you are a day trip away from wonderful sites to see such as the Sloth Sanctuary on the coast and the newly updated National Monument Park at Guyabo - a really interesting pre-columbian site to visit . Oh, and the birding is great too ;-) We saw over 100 different species over the weekend and the guides were wonderful. All in all , a most wonderful stay - highly recommend it to any lover of nature as a base for visiting this part of Costa Rica.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank TomaSchultz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 5 June 2014
We feel that it was an honor for us to have had the Birding Club of Costa Rica as our guests at Rancho Naturalista. We know that you travel all over Costa Rica to the best birdwatching sites and that you have seen most of the best places to stay, so we are super happy that you enjoyed your stay at our little Lodge. Thank you for the kind review and know that you are always welcome back anytime!
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Oxford, Pennsylvania
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 June 2014

Recently traveled here on a birder trip to Costa Rica and have to say this was a fantastic place to stay. I loved the owners Lisa and Mario who made sure we were a happy crew and we were! The experience of having so many varieties and numbers of hummingbirds plus other birds was marvelous. I have to say the food was spectacular and really close to a 5 star restaurant.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank LindaReal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 5 June 2014
We feel honored that you rated our gourmet meals at Rancho Naturalista so highly! We hope that you will return again someday to enjoy some birdwatching and maybe to look for some of the ones that you haven't seen yet. Thank you for taking the time to give us a nice review!
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Monteverde, Costa Rica
Level 2 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 May 2014

It's time to get out the thesaurus and find lots of superlatives. My husband and I and two companions recently spent 2 nights at Rancho Naturalista. It was an extremely positive experience. Lisa, the manager, was helpful, efficient, upbeat, and did everything to make our stay just perfect including giving us advice of a place to stay the night before we got there and other travel tips. The staff are extremely well trained. We loved our rooms (in the main building). They were extremely spacious and comfortable with lovely views. Everything was tiptop from the comfort of the bed to the fluffiness of the towels.
We all really enjoyed the food—even though I'm a bit of fusspot about food and don't eat meat. I would imagine it's important to tell them ahead of time of dietary restrictions because all food is ordered and prepared for whoever is there. I found the vegetarian plates they made for me some of the very best I've been offered as a non-meat eater in Costa Rica.
Two of us are avid birders but all four of us enjoyed the well maintained trails. The moth attracting light was really cool. First thing in the morning we could go and see some very interesting birds at the breakfast buffet of insects. Some birds, like the white-belled wood wrens and red-throated ant tanagers that are usually hard to get a glimpse of were right there in the open, super easy to see. A unique attraction is a series of natural pools in the forest where hummingbirds come to bathe. There is an observation deck above the ponds and it's great fun to sit there in the afternoon watching as various hummingbirds come for a bath. Of course, for wonderful close up views of many species in really good light, the hummingbird feeders by the main building are excellent. We also liked the idea of the hummingbird feeders in the woods where slightly different species come and the setting is more natural.
One morning we hired Cali, one of Rancho's local guides. He was excellent and we saw many birds with him, including nesting sun bitterns at a nearby location. With his help we saw 3 lifers before breakfast (and our Costa Rica list is over 500 so it's getting hard to add new ones.)
Really the only thing wrong with our stay at Rancho Naturalista was that it was much too short. We hope to be back soon and spend more time in paradise.

Room Tip: Casitas might be quieter if you are staying when a big group is there, especially if some of them ar...
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank rududucarolina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 29 May 2014
It is so nice to have our guests feel happy and satisfied with the Rancho Naturalista experience. We thank you for the wonderful review! We really enjoyed having you as our guests and we hope to see you back again soon. Good luck with building up your impressive Costa Rica bird list!
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A TripAdvisor Member
Reviewed 4 May 2014 via mobile

The most wonderful birding experience in Costa Rica. The host and hostess, Mario and Lisa, and their staff were gracious and very knowledgable of the birds, flora and history. Saw many endangered species if birds. The food was delicious and authentic. I highly recommend this mountain resort. We were a party of ten and we all agree this was the highlight of our Costa Rican birding trip. :)

Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 5 May 2014
We loved hosting your group and having the chance to meet them! We are sure with a lively group such as yours, every day is an adventure and we hope your vacation continues to be exciting as you travel to new locations in Costa Rica. The morning spent at the farmers market in Turrialba "La Feria" was a lot of fun! Thank you for the nice review!
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Leicester, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 April 2014

We stayed here as part of a group birding tour ( Ornitholidays for ref). However I must stress that from observation, individual travellers received the same fantastic service and support as a group. Our room was in a separate block, two huge beds so happy nights in one each! Rooms clean and airy. Wow if you get chance have laundry done good price and returned that day ironed and neatly folded! Food most enjoyable and plentiful the open terrace stunning for birds as you ate. The service professional. Environs superb for birds ,( and tarantula) with on site guides so helpful. One reason we chose our bird tour was because they stayed here - exceeded expectations! Visit them!

Room Tip: Rooms off main building better
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Puffinmaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TexasTicaCR, Manager at Rancho Naturalista, responded to this review, 5 May 2014
Wow!, all I can say is "What a nice review" and "thank you!" We are truly satisfied to have our guests leave as happy about their stay at Rancho Naturalista as you did. You would be amazed at how many people appreciate the little things like the laundry, and the details of the rooms. Most people have high expectations of all the birds they want to see but when they arrive at Rancho Naturalista, they are nicely suprised!
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Additional Information about Rancho Naturalista

Property: Rancho Naturalista
Address: 1 Km este de Tuis de Turrialba | Tayutic, Turrialba 7150, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Cartago > Turrialba
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 12 Hotels in Turrialba
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The premier birding lodge in Costa Rica, Rancho Naturalista is among the finest in Central America. There are plentiful hummingbirds on the large, open upstairs balcony where you can view the distant smoking volcano. Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the area. You can hike and bird the trails on your own, and excellent guides are available as well. At Rancho Naturalista the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, and the staff are friendly and welcoming. This comfortable lodge is famous for its excellent food, well prepared, and made with the best fresh local ingredients. (All meals are included.) The weather is almost perfect, not too hot and not too cold. Rancho Naturalista is a wonderful getaway for bird watchers, hikers, and nature lovers! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Rancho Naturalista Turrialba
Rancho Naturalista Hotel Turrialba
Rancho Naturalista Costa Rica/Turrialba

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