2020 – Year of 7 Favorite Hotels!

I am slowing down a little in 2020 – at least slower for me – but will not totally “act my age” in the year I turn 80! I just finished detail travel plans for this year with about half as many week-long trips as in 2019, 7 instead of 13! More time at home writing, but when out I will follow this unidentified quote:

Get lost in nature and you will find yourself.

My 7 trips are each great nature adventures, as I require, even with 6 being repeat locations! Each trek’s hotel heading is linked to that hotel’s website if interested:

Xandari Nature Resort, Alajuela 

Brilliant Book coverThis is in many ways my favorite hotel and nature retreat, though not my best birding place. And is one of the most expensive! But it has as much nature overall as any of my favorite places, plus 5 of their own waterfalls on property, plus excellent service, rooms, and food plus the best of all hot tubs or jacuzzis! (And more birds than at home!)

It is very relaxing in every way and they treated me royally on my birthday last year, plus this year (next week) they will be installing the only complete library of my Costa Rica Photo Books in their lobby as one of their many art exhibits for the enjoyment of other clients. More about the only Charlie Doggett Photography Library next week!   🙂

 

And for photo galleries of my two previous visits to Xandari:

 

Savegre Hotel & Nature Reserve, San Gerardo de Dota

Near Savegre Mountain Lodge, Costa Rica, 1-30-09I’ve wanted to return there since my first short visit on a birding tour in 2009 while still living in downtown Nashville. I’ve returned to San Gerardo de Dota twice since then as the best place in Costa Rica to see and photograph the Resplendent Quetzal! I’ll include links to those two other lodges visited below in case considering the area for a visit.

This little mountain village is adjacent to the grand Quetzal National Park and is a wonderful place for many different kinds of mountain birds or cloud forest birds. And one of the few places in Costa Rica where it gets cold at night! They even have fireplaces in some of the rooms!  We rushed through Sevegre on the birding tour with just two nights, so I expect to get more birds and an overall better and more relaxing experience on this five-night visit. My photos from previous visits to San Gerardo de Dota:

 

Talari Mountain Lodge, Chirripó  NEW for me

001-IMG_7207-WEBThe Chirripó Mountain is the tallest in Costa Rica and for a certain group of Tico young men, climbing to the top (overnight with one night on the mountain) is a sort of “rite of passage” for the real outdoors young man here, some before high school graduation.    🙂

I visited the area in 2015 on my way to the birding club visit to San Gerardo de Dota for just two nights in the Rio Chirripó Lodge, a sort of yoga retreat and B&B which was very nice. I hiked past the entrance trail to Chirripó top but went on into the private adjacent Cloudbridge Reserve for birds and two beautiful waterfalls and no tall mountain climb for me!

In this same area is Los Cusingos Biological Reserve where the first big birder in Costa Rica, Alexander Skutch, lived and wrote the first birding guides for Costa Rica. Thus I have always wanted to visit it and the nearby Los Quebradas Biological Reserve . So my goals are those two reserves and maybe the popular Fincas Suizos Birding Tour along with many birds on the lodge property along a river. This whole area on the Pacific slope is supposed to have a large variety of birds not found in other places. It is near San Isidro del General, the biggest town in southern Costa Rica, but no flights there, meaning I will have another half-day + bus adventure cross country!

Photos from my brief 2 days in the area at:

 

Maquenque Eco-Lodge & Reserve

Maquenque BookMy second visit to this favorite retreat and #1 birding spot that ranked first place on my birding lodges list the other day as having given me the most bird species (53) photographed at any lodge in Costa Rica over the last five years!

Plus I will get to sleep in a tree house room again for my 80th birthday! (Yeah! A lot of steps up to a tree house, but steps keep an old man young!) It is my kind of place in almost every way with excellent service, great room, and very good food, though maybe not the best. Their guides are excellent and I will expect a lot of bird and other wildlife photos again this time! Photos from my last visit:

 

 

Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo in Caribe Sur

South CaribeAnother favorite hotel that I never tire of even though not the best for birds like Maquenque. It is the location, people, service, attitudes, the great “Howler Suite” room that I must reserve a year in advance and the excellent food.

One of the most relaxing places I go and I’m becoming a regular there! Plus great for photos of many things beyond birds in nature and wonderful sunrises! See my photo galleries of past visits for some of my favorite photos:

 

 

Rancho Humo, Palo Verde NP

Rancho-HumoAnother favorite hotel that has almost everything! Luxury room, gourmet food, and lots of birds and other nature to photograph! It could become another regular that I just discovered last year. It is on the Rio Tempisque river across from the Palo Verde National Park and possibly the only place in Costa Rica you can photograph a Jabiru Stork along with lots of other birds.

It is different from almost any of my other favorites here with more of a ranch or cowboy atmosphere which is part of a real working ranch with around 800 head of cattle along with all the nature. I look forward to returning and here’s my photos from last year’s visit:

 

Arenal Observatory, Arenal Volcano National Park

ArenalObservatoryAnother favorite hotel of mine in almost every category from birds to food and service! And it is very popular for both tourists and Ticos. This will be my third time here and the photos below will show why I like it so much.

It is the only hotel around Arenal that is inside the national park (long story) and in the most natural surroundings of any and the closest to the volcano that you look not out at, but up to! Plus it is on the lake for gorgeous sunset photos, also from my room (I have a favorite room here too! #29).

There’s a birding tower that I love, plus lots of trails, a huge waterfall, a farm, and horseback riding for those that wish – not my interest- and other things off the lodge property like the largest butterfly research place in Costa Rica and more birding trails!

 

And with this many repeats, am I in danger of “getting in a rut?”   Well, right now I already have one or two new places in mind for 2021 but I am appreciating knowing what I am getting into and a few of these place I really like, PLUS there are some others I want to repeat but haven’t, like Esquinas Lodge, Cristal Ballena, Danta Corcovado and Aguila de Osa – Wow! But money and energy are going to keep me down to a trip every other month for now and just deal with the fact that there are too many choices in Costa Rica!   🙂

 

All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Explored by horseback, foot or kayak, Costa Rica is a tropical choose-your-own-adventure land.     ~Lonely Planet

¡Pura Vida!

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2 Replies to “2020 – Year of 7 Favorite Hotels!”

  1. Charlie,
    Just a note to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I am 78 yrs old and living my life vicariously through you. Your photography is great and I really enjoy all your trips and adventures about living in CR. My younger wife is a couple of years from retirement and our “plan” is to live mid Sept thru Mid May as snowbirds in Gulf Shores, AL and the summer in a cooler climate such as Atenas. We have visited CR four times and Atenas twice (the last time ten years ago). We are considering a week vacation this year to check out Atenas especially looking at potential monthly rentals. I have seen one airbnb at 420 Rocha Verde up the hill from you. For a monthly rental we would want something about $1000 per month during the summer. Do you know anything about this place? What does a taxi cost from your home to downtown Atenas? We would not be renting a car. Also, do you know of an agency that has casitas in downtown Atenas? Also, is it possible for us to volunteer at the orphanage in Atenas during the summer? Last time we were there, they said we have to speak good Spanish (which we do not). Also, one last question, while we are there we would want to take some of the 4-5 day trips that you have taken. What is the approximate cost to you to take those trips (or a range of price.)

    Thanks and I look forward to your posts for 2020.

    Wayne Winkelman

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  2. Wayne, thanks for your kind words. Glad you are looking at Atenas. I love this quiet little place to stay when not traveling. I’m on a trip right now at Xandari Alajuela. So a quick reply.

    I do not know #420 but will walk by it after I return. It should be up the hill from me. I walk to town regularly but when I take a taxi is is Colones 1,100 or 1,200 and I usually give them 1,500 which is about $3 or actually a little less right now.

    Andrew at ReMax Realty found me my rent house 4.5 years ago and I love it. He also has house downtown which I looked at. Realtors are kind of a subjective opinion and there are several here.

    The cost of trips like mine depend on where, transportation, hotel-lodge, food, guides, etc. I often spend more than a thousand dollars for a near-week stay like where I am now which is the most expensive hotel I use, but I love it and think it worth the cost. I’m trying to spend my son’s inheritance! 🙂 But I am slowing down a little this year.

    Contact me when you get to Atenas and we will talk.

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