I recently returned from my exploratory trip to La Cusinga Lodge in Uvita Costa Rica. After reading so many positive reviews about the place, I wanted to walk the trails with my own feet and inspect the lodge with my own eyes, before inviting 25 of my students & friends to a retreat we have planned in June.
I arrived In San Jose on a Friday morning. The airport was smaller than I expected and immigration was a breeze. I had a driver hired and he met me at the requested time and place.
We rolled out of the bustling city of San Jose and headed towards the coast. It was a long bumpy trip, about three hours, but it gave me time to check out the Pacific Coast along highway 34.
The town of Uvita is tiny and only offers a few restaurants, coffee shops, two grocery markets and several bars. It was very authentic and not in any way touristy, as I had found in other parts of Costa Rica.
A short 10-minute drive further south we came upon the entrance to La Cusinga Lodge. Instantly as we entered the lush tropical grounds, I knew I had arrived somewhere unique and special. After a short trip from the main entrance, through the thick forest and mountainous road, we arrived at the main office.
Christian was the desk manager on duty. He spoke perfect English and was helpful beyond belief. As a good omen, a colorful hummingbird flew into the office just as I was signing the registration paperwork.
Hummingbirds are all over the property. They were fascinating to watch, but nearly impossible to photograph. As soon as I would see one and get my camera out, they would buzz away as quickly as they arrived.
I explained to Christian that I wanted to explore the trails around the property. He brought me a map of the resort and gave me the lay of the land. With the lodge right up against the Marino Ballena National Park, I found that I could have spent a week hiking the trails they have from their property and never leave.
Christian walked me to my adorable room, as we traveled through the main restaurant and bar, with their famous scenic overlook.
Later that afternoon, as I sat in a rocking chair, I watched as a humpback whale lazily swam up the pacific coast. Offshore are several small islands and rock cropping’s that are supposed to have some of the most protected and beautiful coral reefs in Costa Rica. I watched several dive boats working the waters offshore.
The beach point in the distance from the overlook above, is the Whale Tail Beach at the National Park. At low tide a huge sand bar is exposed and forms the shape of a whale’s tail. While I did not go there, I was told you could spend hours exploring the beach until the tide comes in.
Along a path right outside my room, I found the Ajos Trail (1.41km) that has several loops and options.
The Poza loop leads to a natural swimming hole, that guest use to cool off in the heat of the day. I enjoyed the cool fresh water that runs down from the mountains above.
There also is a waterfall, with several beautiful meditation spots. I enjoyed just sitting there, feeling the coolness of the water spray while listening to the powerful water and sounds of parrots in the trees. This picture is the lush tropical stream that runs through the property.
Along another path, I found where the cool fresh water of the mountain stream empties into the warmer salt waters of the Pacific. I sat for a long time at this spot in wonder, just enjoying the animals and sea life at this remote location.
The afternoon gets warm and it took my body time to adjust to all the steep trails, so I went back to lodge, enjoyed a cold local beer at the lookout lodge and relaxed before dinner.
The food and drinks were great. The Lodge was uncrowded, so had time to get to know the waiter/bartender Mike and the cooks. They were delightful. All the food was either sourced right on the property or grown organically locally. The drinks at the bar were a little unsophisticated. Mike had no idea how to make a dirty martini with olives stuffed with blue cheese, my Friday night ritual. They did have a good selection for any rum drinkers.
My first night as it got very dark, fear began to set in and I started to doubt my choice of this location. After traveling to so many places in my lifetime, I had never remembered feeling so remote and isolated. I was concerned that if something happened to one of our attendees, how would we get help? Thankfully Mike reassured me, pointing out on a map several hospitals within 20 minutes of the lodge, such as Cortez. I relaxed a little and felt better. Being by the National Park it just feels more remote than it actually is.
As I retreated to my room, I grew concerned with the heat of the day. While my room had several fans there was no air conditioning. I was pleased to see that each evening a cool breeze would come down from the mountains. Due to the elevation of the lodge, it actually got chilly at night for me; I had to get under my blanket.
I will never forget waking up my first morning. Being on Pacific Time, I woke up early at 5:15AM, but the sun was already starting to show. I woke up to the sounds of howler monkeys and parrots in the trees above the lodge. As I laid in bed, I was just amazed by the sounds of nature all around me.
I made my way to the restaurant, but breakfast was not quite yet ready. I was given a warm cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee. It was suggested that as it was low tide, it would be a great time to venture down to the beach before breakfast. I enjoyed my coffee and then hit the trail.
The 20 minute hike down to the Arco Beach on “The Roots Trail,” is breathtakingly beautiful, but steep at parts. I hiked for two hours that morning. I never saw another human being and had the spectacular beach all to myself. Along the way I witnessed toucans, eagles, a poison arrow frog, tropical yellow breasted birds, a snake and so many other animals. I found this little waterfall with a natural fresh water shower, to use after a swim.
I felt like I was on a deserted island as I explored the beach and caves that morning. Looking up in the hills and cliffs above me, all I could see was unspoiled rain forest, beaming with life and natural fruits such as bananas.
I spent the entire day exploring the property and yoga center. I found simple beauty everywhere. The trails were much more rugged and challenging than I had expected, but the wildlife and forest were well worth it.
If you go, a walking stick, good hiking shoes (no flip flops), and plenty of water are needed. I had expected mosquitoes, but at least for my body chemistry, they were never a problem. A telephoto lens camera and small binoculars are also handy, in order to catch the monkeys and birds in the tree canopy above.
We will be practicing yoga and meditation each day, but you do not have to be an expert or even practice regularly to enjoy this special place. As I practiced I enjoyed listening to the power of the ocean, as waves crashed on rocks below. The sounds of the wildlife and fresh clean air permeated my senses leaving me invigorated and refreshed.
I can’t wait to return again in June; continuing to explore this unspoiled land. I hope you can join me on this adventure of discovery. The retreat is being run by a professional retreat company called True Nature. You can find a link for the retreat on our page: www.energyyoga.com. The rates they are offering include transportation to and from the airport, your room, meals and the retreat itself. We are still trying to get group pricing on airfare. I was able to purchase a round trip ticket on JetBlue for only $212, but I doubt pricing will be that low in the busier summer months.
WHAT TO PACK
A lightweight rain jacket
Good hiking shoes
Lightweight and cool long pants and shirt to keep the bugs away
Hiking stick - You can always find a stick there, but you may want to purchase an aluminum one
Small binoculars for wildlife watching
A cool hat to keep the sun off
Extra undergarments, as you will perspire a lot
Sunscreen and insect repellent
A bandana, preferably dry fit to wet and wear on your head and keep you cool
Take plenty of water with you when hiking
Telephoto lens and good camera
Single Occupancy $2,395 (Private room, limited availability)
Semi-Private $1,895 (Up to 3 people per room)
Dorm Style $1,695 (5+ people per room)
Space is limited. $300 non-refundabe deposit is required to hold your spot.
David Yglesias is an experienced yoga teacher and motivational speaker. In 2005 David founded Energy Yoga LLC, a Yoga Alliance certified teacher training school. David has thousands of hours of practical teaching experience, is a teacher of teachers and is a very popular published author and hosted a radio show.