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Arenal Observatory Lodge

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Price guide


- Close to Arenal Lake & Volcano
- Affordable option for groups & families
- Huge variety of activities
- Phenomenal birdlife

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Arenal Observatory Lodge is located within its own private reserve close to the vast and beautiful Lake Arenal in Costa Rica’s northern reaches. This large hotel is set on a ridge with breath-taking views of the towering Arenal Volcano which is a mere three kilometres away. The property is fully committed to environmental sustainability and holds the distinction of being the only hotel inside the Arenal Volcano National Park, within its own private reserve covering some 870 acres and featuring pristine primary and secondary rainforests, open fields, waterfalls and a number of scenic trails. Its remote location makes for some fabulous scenery and adventure with only the uninterrupted sights and sounds of the rainforest to enjoy, although do be prepared for the rather long and bumpy drive to get there from the nearest town.

The accommodation comprises 48 rooms of several different categories to suit parties of varying sizes. Phil’s Villa and the White Hawk Villa are both two-storey buildings with fully-equipped kitchens situated over half a mile from the reception area. These are aimed at larger groups and families seeking peace and privacy, and who are prepared for a long walk or a drive to the main facilities (shuttle transport can be arranged). Standard Rooms offer plenty of space, while the La Casona building houses five bedrooms and two shared bathrooms; it’s closer to the main facilities than Phil’s Villa and White Hawk Villa and is intended for travellers on a more restricted budget. Rounding off the choices are the Smithsonian Rooms, which are very close to the lodge’s facilities, and the two Junior Suites, which are the largest of the accommodation options, each with their own private terrace.

The hotel is child-friendly with children aged 8 and under staying for free when sharing a room with an adult, and those aged 9 and over paying adult rates. All 48 rooms are set amidst lush garden surroundings and have their own balcony or viewing deck, most of them with excellent views of the volcano. With the lodge situated over 2,000 feet above sea level, there’s no need for air conditioning as the rooms are constantly cooled by the winds from the nearby lake, although ceiling fans are provided.

The lodge boasts a considerable network of trails that together cover some seven miles and can be explored on foot, on horseback or on mountain bike either independently or with a guide. All trails offer spectacular views of the reserve’s natural wonders and plenty of opportunities to spot the abundant wildlife which includes over 500 bird species. Every morning, there’s a complimentary guided walk that lasts for two-and-a-half hours and showcases the reserve’s many natural features. There’s also a well populated, man-made natural frog pond which makes for a fascinating visit with a torch after dark. Over a dozen other activities are available for an additional charge, such as canopy zip lining, caving expeditions, horseback rides to a waterfall, canyoning sessions, chocolate rainforest tours, wallowing in hot springs and even a hike up to see the lava remnants of the volcano’s most recent eruption which dates back to 1968. There’s an eco-zoo with a large collection of reptiles, amphibians and butterflies to discover, and it’s also possible to make the considerable climb up the lodge’s own Observation Tower to enjoy astounding views when you pop out above the tree canopy.

Back at the hotel, there’s a lovely pool, jacuzzi and spa. There’s also the Cerro Chato Bar, and El Jilguero is the main restaurant which serves both local and international cuisine and has floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor deck offering unrivalled volcano views.

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What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 530 reviews


  • Dear Lisa. On behalf of the three generations of the Rowland family. Thank you, so much, for organising our wonderful holiday to Botswana and the Victoria Falls. The trip of a lifetime. The week mobile camping in the bush, with our guide Nandos and his crew was a fantastic adventure. How they manage to cook such wonderful food on an open fire is amazing. The sites were constantly visited by monkeys and once by elephants. We were even lucky enough to see two packs of wild dogs, once with a kill. Waterberry Lodge on the Zambezi River is a wonderfully tranquil place. Ideal to relax after the adventures of our safari and visiting Victoria Falls. Very many thanks once again

    MissingGodfrey R reviewing Private Mobile Family Safari in Botswana on 25 September 2023

  • We had a great time - even with the flight between Governors and the coast being two flights and a car! We also experienced a power cut At Nairobi airport on the way home so 2+ hours late taking off. Governors. Wonderful people and dealt with the flight delay very well - taking us back and letting us know that we could stay there if the flight was delayed overnight. The game drives were excellent and our guide (Erick) obviously very experienced and managed to find all the key animals - no rhino in that part of the Masai Mara but everything else in abundance - never seen so many herbivores (many many elephants as well as all the others) as well as two prides of lions. Could not have asked for more. The ‘tent’ was excellent and comfortable and well serviced. The only ‘complaint’ would be that the food - especially dinner - could be improved (I think we got a bit bored of soup as a starter for every meal bar one) and the main courses were not at the same level as Kinondo Kwetu and while all were explained there was no choice offered. The breakfasts were just what was needed after an early game drive. Kinondo Kwetu. What a great location and the welcome when we arrived at just gone 11.00pm was better than you could have ever thought possible - they we’re disappointed that we did not at that time want the full dinner experience! The rooms we’re comfortable. The food was excellent but again no choice was offered - other than for allergy reasons (which we do not have). May be some choice would be nice. Having said that the food we did have was excellent as were the wines (albeit a short list!) and other drinks. There were (as you know) lots of facilities/sports options - but we spent our time relaxing which was exactly what we needed and there were lots of places to do that. Overall. We would go back to both places - perhaps a few more nights at Kinondo Kwetu next time but 3 nights at Governors was perfect for us. Thank you for organising and recommending both places. That you and your colleague for trying to find out about the plane (flat tyre) but communication by the flight company left a lot to be desired (Governors were furious that they were not told and had taken us to the airstrip). Phil

    MissingPhilip R reviewing Masai Mara Safari & Kenya Beach on 01 September 2023

  • It was certainly a holiday of a lifetime for us and we loved every minute!! The standard and location of each accommodation was excellent, as was the variety of each different accommodation type. Our schedule was perfect and we managed to achieve everything on our to-do task list. Your documents were also really helpful, as were the driving directions. We all thank you for making this such a wonderful holiday. Happy to leave a review publicly if you point me the right way. Best Steve

    MissingStephen H reviewing Classic Garden Route & Eastern Cape Safari on 01 September 2023

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