The first time I ever went white water rafting was a complete thrill. I started out nervous, like a lot of first time rafters, but that fear quickly turned into delight as soon as I survived my first rapid.
And since I was rafting the Pacuare River on my way to the Pacuare Lodge, my delight quickly turned to dumbfounded awe.
Let me remind you, I hadn’t done any research for this trip. I didn’t plan it…I was just going along for the ride with my friend. Why was I this cocky about not needing to research? Well I’ve been to a lot of hotels. I’ve been on a lot of trips. I figured I knew what to expect.
Pacuare Lodge exceeded every single expectation I had.
Based on the name, I was expecting a lodge like we can find all over Costa Rica: small, quaint, rustic, cute. As I climbed out of the raft in front of the hotel and go my first glimpse of the lodge, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful it was as it sat there, blending into the jungle. I could imagine eating lunch on their open deck, the river rushing by just meters away.
Since we were sopping wet, they ushered us to our bungalows soon after giving us a much appreciated welcome drink and cool towel.
At my bungalow, all you could see was a dense wall of tropical foliage. I walked up the path into the mini jungle and there the bungalow was, hidden away from sight of the path. There was a pristine white hammock swaying in the breeze, awaiting me on the bungalow’s porch and a pair of giant sliding doors that opened up into a scene from my dreams.
A giant bed sat in the middle of the room with a headboard of macramé art, made my local artists, they told me. The entire room, including the bed was swathed in filmy white gauze, making me feel like I was literally stepping into heaven.
The second porch overlooking a tropical garden, with views of the river beyond only added to the wonder. The spacious bathroom with a shower that made you feel like you were in the middle of the jungle itself looked divine, especially after rafting for several hours.
I literally just stood in the middle of the bungalow, turning slowly, taking it all in for several minutes. I don’t think I have seen any place so breathtaking before.
After a deliciously hot shower and a fresh outfit, I ventured back to main lodge for lunch. Our guides, who had changed their life jackets for aprons, served us a well-earned three-course lunch. Warm, hearty pozol (cracked corn and pork soup), melt-in-your-mouth chicken skewers and couscous, and silky smooth mango sorbet left me feeling full and sleepy, in the best way.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I went straight to my bungalow after that to enjoy some time alone, swinging on my hammock with the sound of the rainforest in my ears. I could have stayed in that hammock forever, freezing that moment for all eternity.
The next day dawned bright and sunny, perfect for zip lining. Our adrenaline mounted as we trekked up the hill in our gear and arrived to the first platform. Before I knew it, I was flying through the trees, the wind rushing past my face. Zip lining is the ultimate soft-core adventure sport, in my opinion. You get a healthy dose of stomach-dropping adrenaline in a controlled, extremely safe environment. That is my kind of adventure.
I love zip lining in Costa Rica, because it is such a unique view of the rainforest. There is nothing quite like those few seconds when you are completely alone in the middle of a flurry of green leaves and chirping birds. Rain, sun, fog…it’s always a fun activity.
After zip lining, there was nothing else to do but take a dip in the pool. The infinity edge of the pool made it seem like it disappeared into the trees, with the river just on the other side. Floating there in the slightly warm water made me wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else in the world? What’s so great about big cities anyways? I would take an unconnected life, surrounded by nature and my own quiet thoughts any day.
That’s just the thing this place gives you. It gives you peace of mind, real relaxation, and the loving treatment of Mother Nature. I would have loved any experience along the Pacuare River, but this particular one just blew me away.
I dream of the day I can return to this blissful, tropical paradise.