Rancho Naturalista, Costa Rica

rancho naturalista birdwatcher lodge costa rica

A recommendation for travellers, who wish a fully care-free time in the Costa Rican jungle - Rancho Naturalista!

rancho naturalista costa rica

Rancho Naturalista is one of the most famous lodges for birdwatching worldwide! And is one of the finest lodges in Central America! Perfect for nature-lovers and people, who enjoy a quiet and serene green surroundings. The lodge is located deep in the rainforest. Jungle as far, as the eye can see. Here is the location on the map.

All meals are included in Rancho Naturalista. That's three main courses (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) as well as snacks with tea and coffee, which are available all day around.

The food is top-quality, varied and healthy (if you enjoy the splendid desserts moderately). Rancho Naturalista serves lots of fresh vegetables, and natural freshly made juices are part of every meal! We ate vegetarian, but vegan, gluten-free and meat options are also available. As you wish.

rancho naturalista costa rica vegetarian food

All the ingredients are fresh from the region, the vegetables are from the local farmer. Most of the animal-based products are from the animals, that live and are cared for at the Rancho. The meats come from healthy animals, which live outside and get nutritious food, and do NOT get any injections or additives. The milk as well is from the cow, that lives on the Rancho. The cheese, guests get served at the breakfast, is made from that milk. Anna was even allowed to help milk the cow and participate in the process of cheesemaking! That was a new experience!

rancho naturalista costa rica farming
Photo: Anna learned at the Rancho, how to milk a cow and make home-made cheese!
breakfast cheese rancho naturalista
Photo: Gallo Pinto is a traditional dish in Costa Rica (and a few other countries in Central America) and is most commonly served at breakfast. Gallo Pinto consists of rice with beans, scrambled eggs, tortillas, and cheese. The cheese on the picture was made at the Rancho. Anna participated in the production. 
nachtisch rancho naturalista costa rica
Photo: Oh, the desserts! Every day something special!

The area around the Lodge is home to about 500 bird species! Birdwatchers from all around the world come here, to see and photograph rare species! 

There are several trails, leading around the Lodge through the forest, which you can trail by yourself or with a guide.

Professional guides with multiple-years of experience work at the Rancho Naturalista. Tours and hikes are available daily, as well as binoculars.

Here you can observe lots of different species of animals as well as birds. By the end of this article you will find a video, where the owner and manager of the Lodge, Lisa Erb, explains what kind of animals live in the surroundings of the Rancho.  

Did you know?

Sub Heading

Birdwatcher is a recognized profession in Costa Rica!

Photo: Birdwatching directly from the breakfast table 🙂


Is a visa necessary for Costa Rica?

Sub Heading

No, holders of an EU pass (as well as many other) can stay up to 90 days for touristic purposes without a visa. No Test or Vaccination required (July 2022) to enter.

rancho naturalista costa rica birdwatching

Photo: Anna is observing a tucan!

In the Lodge there are 13 beautiful rooms, each one differently designed. The rooms are cleaned daily. Most rooms have a view over the green rainforest. Our room (on the picture below) had a separate entry and a terrace looking directly into the forest! So nice to wake up listening to the birds singing!

rancho naturalista lodge costa rica

Photo: Our room!

rancho naturalista room costa rica

Photo: Another gorgeous room. This one is located in the main building and has access to the balcony, where the birdfeeders are.

Is Costa Rica expensive?

Sub Heading
If we compare Costa Rica with other countries in the region (like Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala), it is more pricey in my opinion. But cheaper than Panama. Actually, it is possible to spend a lot in any country, as well as it is possible to live in nearly any country affordably. It depends on how you manage it. Same in Costa Rica.
Of course you can't compare Costa Rica with Southeast Asia (the most budget friendly travel destination in the world). But if I compare it to the countries in Central America, it looks like this:
In Costa Rica you pay a more for accommodation, but you also get better quality.
Public transport is more expensive than in other Central American countries. Comparable with Mexico (identical to   ADO Bus).
Having all your meals at restaurants can get expensive.
What is noticeably expensive - the entrance fees to the national parks 18-20 USD per person is the average price. If you are traveling as a family, it will be pricey. Fortunately, there are always alternatives. You don't necessarily have to go into the national parks to see beautiful nature and animals.
rancho naturalista costa rica birder lodge

Photo: community rooms for the guests to enjoy books, games as well as a workspace for digital nomads like ourselves.

Further in the jungle there is a giant open-air yoga hall. Rancho Naturalista is simply perfect for organized or self planned yoga retreats! The lodge manager, Lisa, is a professional yoga teacher and gives the guests free classes from time to time! 
rancho natralista yoga hall
rancho natralista yoga

Families with kids of any age are welcomed with open arms. Children up to the age of 11 even get to stay free of charge (and get all meals included as well)! My daughter really enjoyed the time at the Rancho!

rancho naturalista costa rica birding

Photo: On the balcony with dozens of humming birds

Rancho Naturalista is a family business and it is going to celebrate it's 35th anniversary this year! If you are interested to know, how the world-famous birding lodge has been created, check out the video interview with Lisa and her daughter Nikki. It is just down in this article.
rancho naturalista costa rica birdwatcher lodge

Is Costa Rica safe?

Sub Heading

We both felt safe everywhere in Costa Rica. We even travelled partially by hitchhiking. I think, if you travel with common sense, everything will be fine.

The owner and manager Lisa Erb is pure positive energy! As a young woman she moved with her family from the United States to Costa Rica and built the lodge here, in the tropical jungle. Where before there was a coffee and sugar cane plantation, now stands this unique birding lodge, which attracts birders from all around the world!
There is a lot of work behind this project, and for me Lisa is a role model for efficiency and productivity. She is very harmonic, does her work with a lot of positivity and always smiles! Next to running a very popular lodge, Lisa still finds time to practice yoga daily, to draw amazing art, to hike! She loves rafting, knows everything about the local flora and fauna, and still finds plenty of time for every guest!
The daughter Nikki helps with the lodge, when Lisa is travelling. Watch the interview with this remarkable mother-daughter team!
Check out the reviews for Rancho Naturalista! If you click on the pictures, you will get to the appropriate page (Facebook / TripAdvisor / Google).
In our 6-month trip trough South America this week in Rancho Naturalista was the most calm and relaxing time we had! Pure rest, peace, tasty food, and, of course, the breathtaking nature and a lot of birds! We would like to thank Lisa, Nikki, and the team for the unforgettable time we had in Rancho Naturalista!

Rancho Naturalista

Costa Rica

How to get to the lodge


506-8704-3217, 506-8994-8994





We produce documentaries!

We record our life on the road in documentaries, which we produce independently together. At the moment our 2-part travel film "Anna, Asia and Me. 250 days on the road" is finished!

Check our cinema trailer!

"Anna, Asia and Me. 250 days on the road" Part 1 (this film is available as a download with English subtitles)