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The Celeste Mountain Lodge: Bijagua, Costa Rica

Perched high upon the verdant slopes of primary rainforest, adjacent to Parque Nacional de Volcan Tenorio (Tenorio Volcano National Park), The Celeste Mountain EcoLodge offers guests a rapt medley of jaw-dropping vistas and exquisite service within the comfort of contemporary and vernacular architecture. Experience the allure of this mountain retreat, a hidden world high above the village of Bijagua de Upala, Costa Rica, and become the first in your circle of friends to go way off track, in style.

Surprisingly, this pristine corner of the Central American isthmus remains in a discovery phase, beyond the tired, beaten tourism loops of Arenal, Monteverde and San Ramon. There is only one way into this untouched corner and that’s by car, 4WD preferred, not because you will have to cross toes and plunge window-deep into crocodile-infested rivers; rather just to ascend the 4km bone-breaking road leading to the lodge. Never fear, however, for I easily summitted in a front-wheel drive sedan during a torrential downpour, family in tow.

Suitably strict in adherence, cheerful proprietor Joel Marchal proudly follows the standards of sustainable tourism within his Celeste Mountain Lodge. Mission statement priorities highlight the desire to protect and reduce ecological impacts through innovation; to conduct oneself without negative social impact; to simply be more responsible, sensible and respectful within a lodging experience of elegant simplicity. This also means bring your book, your journal and power down your smart phone. That’s right – zero signal. For some people, this is a big step into the stretch zone. Sadly, unplugging from today’s highly connected world does manifest some anxiety. I certainly felt that nakedness upon settling into the lodge, however, avoiding that unnecessary suck of the communications world is precisely the reason for visiting such a locale.

The Lodge offers 18 rooms, divided in spartan fashion upon 2 floors. All offer breathtaking views, hot showers and design furnishings. By plan, each room allows guests to bring the outside in, with sliding floor-to-ceiling paneling made of rich indigenous wood. Three fabulous meals are included and await those returning from a myriad of activities, including the well-maintained, adventurous 2km Celeste Trail, hikes into the breathtaking Rio Celeste of Volcan Tenorio National Park, or the horseback-riding, cycling and walking around Bijagua. The lodge will gladly accommodate all your travel and activity reservations; they’ll even place you with local guides upon Class III, IV and V rapids of the Rio Tenorio.

Be sure to nestle up to the bar, admire divine covered gardens and enjoy a glass of wine. Take a dip in their heated splash pool; this product of collected rainwater, warmed by wood stove, serves to comfort those aching muscles. And plan to eat very well. The “Tica-Fusion” cuisine is a foodie’s paradise. In my opinion their menu was the most underpromised, overdelivered value proposition in this heavenly equation. With younger children, however, we found the fixed menu a stretch, yet the staff kindly accommodated our audibles, crafting by-request meals for our children.

It’s a nature hotel, a hamlet upon the highlands of an enchanting volcano. Comfortable yet functional, rustic yet modern, Celeste Mountain Lodge beckons you to enjoy the outdoors, discover a wealth of rainforest offerings and rest comfortably in year-long, spring-like weather. What a masterful plan.

Click here to visit the Celeste Mountain Lodge.

They are also a member in the Adventure Hotels of Costa Rica, a select group of boutique, small hotels located on the beach, in the mountains, near National Parks, and all offering nearby adventure activities.

by: Jason Z. Guest