Tirimbina Lodge, Saripiqui

Old Mar 14th, 2010, 06:28 AM
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Posts: 1,340
Tirimbina Lodge, Saripiqui

After three glorious weeks in Costa Rica, I finally have a few minutes to jot down some thoughts. My husband and I also stayed at the Don Carlos in San Jose, Paradisio in Arenal and Bosque del Cabo at the Osa (what more can I possibly add - simply the best!), and would be happy to answer questions.

When we were first looking for somewhere to stay in Sarapiqui, there seemed to be sparse information on Tirimbina. However, what little we learned was all good, and their communication via e-mail was super-efficient, so we decided to give the place a try. First of all, this is a working school and research center, so there is much less of a tourist vibe. This suited us just fine; there is a more tourist-oriented hotel a short walk away (almost hard to distinguish where one begins and one ends) where one can have an Imperial, eat at their restaurant, check out their museum and gardens (at least I think it's theirs) or go for a swim. We didn't choose to eat at their restaurant as it wasn't convenient, so can't attest to the quality of their food, but they have a lovely small pool with plenty of bird-life around to ooh and ahh over.

Tirimbina's cafeteria-style food is only fair, but inexpensive. Always beans and rice. Usually some meat or fish at lunch and dinner. Sometimes they run out. Everything is served with a smile. Do not get their box lunch unless you have a fondness for unidentifiable meat on Wonder bread!

The rooms at Tirimbina surprised us! They're very clean, comfy, reasonably riced, and have air conditioning! Ours was near a small area with hammocks where we relaxed with a book on occasion. Sometimes students studied at a table nearby, but they were polite and quiet.

The staff here is exceptionally nice. We arrived on the San Jose bus earlier than expected, and were given a warm greeting. We wandered around their air-conditioned gift shop and watched numerous hummingbirds outdoors until our room was ready. Some of the staff speak limited English, and we speak very limited Spanish, but we managed.

The trail system is extensive enough to fill a few days. The swimming hole described in their pamphlet unfortunately no longer exists, due the massive shifting of the earth after last year's earthquake. Though we were told it had been rainy, it was dry and very, very hot the entire four days we spent there. We hiked or walked around the grounds right after breakfast - and saw numerous birds,poison-dart frogs, snakes, agouti and basalisk lizards - swam or lay in the hammocks mid-day, and went out on night-hikes three out of four nights. We did their birding, bat, chocolate, frog and night tours, and enjoyed all of them.

The chocolate tour is great fun, interesting, and yummy! If you've ever gone on a Hershey tour, you will appreciate the difference! This is the real thing. Enough said, or I'll spoil the fun!

The morning birding tour was with a soft-spoken guide who was adept at finding various species. We, however, were not adept at either hearing him or finding the birds without a scope. I did, however, on a separate walk, manage to spot a motmot, which I was excited about!

Our three eagerly anticipated night tours were all worth it. The bat tour isn't a tour exactly, more of a talk. Bats caught that or the previous evening can be gently handled, and much fascinating information is presented. Apparently many Tico folks dislike bats because they have the unfortunate and usually unfounded reputation of sucking the blood out of their cattle. With money raised by the talks, Tirimbina takes their presentation to local schools in an attempt to educate the students about bats. We were told that, because it was hot, there wasn't as much wildlife activity. Even so, we saw frogs and toads, huge insects and spiders, including a tarantula, numerous snakes, and a kinkaju (sp?) crossing the bridge.

On our first night, we decided to skip a night-hike and go to bed early. Were we ever sorry! A wildcat was spotted in the trees near the bridge!

We were encouraged frequently to wear closed shoes or rubber boots (which they provide), more for protection from large bullet ants than snakes. These ants can really bite! A guide was bitten one day and her hand swelled right up. She told us that she had been bitten once before, and that bite was much worse; she was in severe pain for 24 hours! So we tended to heed the advice given.

Our favorite guide was Wendy, a personable young lady who thinks nothing of diving into a pond at night after a frog, and delights in sharing her extensive knowledge with visitors. She is trying to earn enough money to not only educate herself further, but to get her younger sisters into private school, which she says, is far better. We entered into a very interesting discussion about politics and the environment.

We learned from her and others that the numerous pineapple (delicious, by the way!) and banana plantations that dot the land are planted on land bought up at low prices from Costa Ricans, and destroyed by these non-indiginous plants. The locals often have no choice but work these plantations at low wages, sometimes on the very land that they used to own! Armed with this knowledge, we skipped the pineapple tour.

It was with sad hearts that we left Tirimbina for Arenal, but comforted by the anticipation of new adventures.
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Old Mar 14th, 2010, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks for your comprehensive report, Cattail! Why do you say it was inconvenient to eat at the neighboring hotel's restaurant? Have you ever stayed at Selva Verde before? If so, I'd be interested to hear a comparison, particularly of the wildlife seen onsite. Thanks!
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Patty, the restaurant was very convenient to Tirimbina, just a short walk away. Bring flashlights at night. What I meant by inconvenient was that we didn't have time for a relaxed meal because we had night tours scheduled.No, I've not stayed at Selva Verde; this was our first trip to the area, Sorry!
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the clarification!
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Old Mar 15th, 2010, 10:57 AM
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No problem! I'll be interested to see where you end up, and what you think of it, as we definitely want to return to the area.
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