Story by Babbie De Derian, Photos by Lawrence Davis
Rio Perdido, Costa Rica
The Lost River where Paradise is Found
Jet Blue’s non stop flight from JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica takes less than 5 hours. As always, Jet Blue’s high level of comfort in soft leather seats, ample leg room, and the genuine friendliness of flight attendants, who truly love working for the airline, makes the trip a relaxing pleasure. I pay for extra leg room seats and luck out with three to myself in both directions... well worth the premium.
I invite Splash Magazines Publisher Lawrence Davis to join me; he flies in from LA. and I from New York. We have not seen each other in two years; it is a happy reunion, and thanks to Bismarck Campos from Terra Nova Tours, who has organized our visit, a Jacamar Transportation shuttle is waiting to drive us to our first adventure... a two night stay at Rio Perdido.
Once off the highway, the private road to Rio Perdido winds through the forest. This amazing eco - friendly hideaway sits on 300 acres, surrounded by three thermal rivers, lush vegetation and views of three volcanoes. We are greeted by the sight and mating calls of rare birds and other small animals that live and swing from tree to tree.
Our accommodations are in well appointed secluded free standing bungalows, constructed with recycled local wood from fallen cocobolo trees (there are 20 rooms, each with a private porch decorated with colorful hammocks). I discover this is a great place early in the morning when exotic birds brazenly flit onto the railings. The property is only one year old, and the monkeys, not yet used to people, remain hidden high in the trees.
Rio Perdido was planned and built by father and son Efraim and Gabriel Saragovia, and to our delight, architect Efraiim is on property. Lawrence encourages him to document his amazing life, growing up in Colombia, moving to Miami and then developing properties in Costa Rica. Over dinner Efraim shares the ongoing challenges of maintaining Rio Perdido and the continued expansion of this long term project; Gabriel bought this property 5 years ago, and as a bike lover, cutting bike trails through the thick brush was his first challenge. “We are committed to supporting the nearby villagers and to developing our land to grow more organic fruits, vegetables and herbs to serve our guests the purest most natural foods. We are planning to add 20 to 30 more rooms; they will be larger, some suites, and offer amazing views of the rivers. The spa will be moved and expanded to offer guests treatments on the banks of the thermal rivers and on floating platforms”.
The restaurant overlooks the resort’s thermal pools and pool bar... a great place for an afternoon cocktail or a glass of wine. With the exception of its vaulted thatched roof, the restaurant is open to afternoon and evening breezes.
In the mornings we watch huge black birds soar and circle across the sky. The music of the river and the wind rustling the leaves is a symphony of nature that moves us deeply.
General Manager, Ignacio Gomez brings a wealth of International hotel professionalism and charm to the property, and the staff is genuinely elated to have us as guests, especially assistant manager Heidi Chaves
The next day, Edgar Rodriquez, Sales Planner, takes us on a bumpy drive up the mountain in an open 4 wheeler to get a closer view of volcanoes Miravalles, Tenorio and Rincon de la Viejo.Â
It is exciting and exhilarating as we wind our way to the top, crossing streams, avoiding fallen trees and discovering hidden caves. At the summit, we reach a helicopter landing, and get out to marvel at the incredible world we have discovered here at the “lost river” they call Rio Perdido.
There are more than 30 spots on the thermal rivers where one can swim or just float. Thermal waters are great for circulation, and on the way back to the hotel, we stop to take a dip.Â We paint our bodies with volcanic lava mud; and when it dries, wade into the water to wash off the residue. It is a warm and reassuring ritual that purifies the skin and tightens the pores. Lawrence wanders downstream to explore this breathtakingly beautiful paradise.
Rio Perdido offers Wellness, Adventure and Bird Watching in harmony with the environment. Here one can be as active or complacent as you wish Rooms are quite reasonable and include breakfast. All hotel guests have unlimited access to the amazing thermal canyon with dozens of warm river pools, many miles of hiking and biking trails, spectacular panoramic lookouts, chemical free mineral pools and floating docks. For more thrills, fly over the river on a zip line or visit their farm to try your hand at milking cows... and to learn about the herbs used in Costa Rican cooking.
Rio Perdido is a spiritual sanctuary where tranquility and peace of mind reign. It is a soothing place to relax, recharge and reflect. Leave your world behind; come and meditate, contemplate or just vegetate. The “lost river” is the place to “find the inner you” and you will feel comfortable being here alone.
In Costa Rica, people greet each other with the expression “Pura Vida” It is all about enjoying the moment and appreciating who and where you are.
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