If you’ve followed our story for a while now you know we’re big on conservation and sustainable travel initiatives. So, it was only natural that our first stop in Costa Rica would be an eco-lodge dedicated to preserving a section of Cloud Forest. The lodge, El Silencio, lies in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica just a couple of hours north of San Jose.
Nestled in a small valley of Cloud Forest it’s a wonderful example of an eco-lodge giving back in Costa Rica. It provides all visitors a chance to explore a special cloud forest intimately and reignite their passion for nature and silence. The private reserve is limited to guests of the hotel and makes for a truly unique experience to unwind and get back in tune with nature. For us, it was exactly what we needed and why we chose to travel to Costa Rica in the first place.
Getting to El Silencio
Those traveling from the Americas will find it easy to reach El Silencio given its proximity to San Jose. There are a wide variety of flights that fly into Costa Rica’s capital. After landing in San Jose you can either drive yourself or have a transfer arranged. We’re not going to sugar coat it, but roads in Costa Rica are bad, not African roads bad, but bad, and the path leading to El Silencio is not an exception.
The drive is manageable for any confident driver if you take your time and rent a high clearance vehicle. If you like to relax on your holidays then the lodge will be more than happy to have a shuttle service arranged for you from the airport or your city hotel. The drive took us about two hours with traffic from the city center.
El Silencio Lodge
Nestled in the cloud forest the lodge is comprised of two restaurants, main lodge, spa, yoga deck, gardens, trails, and a series of villas. It’s a wonderful eco-lodge surrounded by 500 acres of cloud forest. We loved their initiatives and activities along with their organic food often cultivated on site. They farm their own river trout and have a large organic garden. Giving perfect ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had every meal at the lodge and for the most part thoroughly enjoyed our fresh food. The service at El Silencio is top notch with great detail being provided by the staff. Just to forewarn food is not included in the price of the stay and eating all meals here can easily break a budget with high resort prices.
The villas are set high on a dense hillside each one has a large deck and private hot tub. Inside the villas are king-sized beds, luxury bath products, and two large sitting areas. The three key elements we enjoyed with the room was the traditional Costa Rican chorreador used to brew coffee. The private hot tub for a soak after a wet hike and listening to the sounds of the forest in the evening. Mornings were best spent sitting on the private balcony watching the birds begin their day.
Relaxation in the Forest
El Silencio is the perfect escape from the noise of everyday life. It’s even a sharp change of pace from the beach towns of Guanacaste or the Pacific that are filled with tourists and motorbikes. El Silencio is a place you can unwind with hardly anyone else around. Wellness and relaxation are a clear focus of the lodge with yoga sessions, massages, hikes, and organic food. We spent our days at the lodge hiking in the cloud forest, enjoying activities, practicing yoga, and searching for wildlife.
Activities at El Silencio
For us, the key activities at the lodge all center around enjoying the wonderful ecosystem. There is an abundance of birds, waterfalls, plants, and animals that will keep you mesmerized for a lifetime here. This is no mystery once you arrive either as we were greeted by a symphony of birds on our private veranda.
While I would never go so far as to call ourselves birders we do love to appreciate them and learn their names. It was a skill we were pretty good at on safari, but in Central America and an overwhelming amount of species, we’re a bit lost. It was the perfect time to increase our knowledge of birds around the world.
The private reserve around El Silencio is a birders haven with a cornucopia of birds, including the famous Resplendent Quetzal. We went looking for the bird, on one of the guided hikes offered by the lodge. Halfway through our hike, our guide stopped in his tracks. “Do you hear that? Come. Come. Come. It’s the resplendent quetzal.” His face could not hide the excitement.
At the end of the hike, are three separate waterfalls with the largest being the Promise Waterfall. They are amazing as access to the waterfalls is limited to the lodge only. Meaning you won’t find these waterfalls with crowds of tourists around them and you can enjoy the waterfall all to yourself for as long as you want. We suggest you hike both the mystery and majestic trail that lead to the waterfall creating a full loop rather than backtracking.
Activities are not limited to only hikes on the property though. There is plenty to do and see if you want to keep active while in Costa Rica. Or you can just sit back relax and enjoy the nature – it’s up to you! We took part in two activities while at El Silencio, horseback riding and ziplining. The adventure park course for zip lining is short, but thrilling. For an hour the staff will take you through the wonderful jungle on a zip ling, which is one of those wonderful Costa Rican excursions that should be tried once. and horse stables on the property.
Another good activity for families is horseback riding. El Silencio has their own stables and will lead you around Bajos del Toro neighborhood and through local farms. The El Silencio lodge encourages visitors to plant a tree and offset their carbon footprint in their spare time or stroll through the Hummingbird Garden. It’s also possible to partake in wine tasting, Costa Rican coffee tasting, and learn about local cooking. El Silencio is also very close to the amazing Catarata Del Toro which you can easily drive to if you have your own car or go on an excursion with the team to see.
If you find yourself in need of a detox in a beautiful setting I can’t recommend a visit to El Silencio enough. While it’s set in a cloud forest like the popular and nearby Monteverde, it is far less trafficked and there is nothing touristy about it, which is hard to come by in Costa Rica. It’s a place to enjoy the earth and experience the true magic of Costa Rica.
Quick Costa Rica Travel Tips
- Currency: Costa Rica Colón
- Visa: Many nationalities can enter Costa Rica for 90 days visa-free
- What to Pack: Good hiking shoes, a bathing suit, rain jacket, and rain boots. See our full Costa Rica packing list here.
- Stay Connected: We recommend Sim Cards from either Kolbi, Movistar, or Claro. Sim cards can be purchased in town centers
What to Pack for Costa Rica
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
Book a Tour
Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the travel planning.
Book Your Guided Tour
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem so it’s best not to contribute to the problem by buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well.
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain about the water supply. Read more about our favorite water bottles for travel in our post.
You may not have the internet to do research in all of Costa Rica. For wireless nights we typically turn to Lonely Planet.
These were great to have! Costa Rica has a plethora of hiking trails and waterfalls so we really appreciated a pair of hiking sandals. They offer underfoot protection but can take an impromptu dip in the ocean or waterfall.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Costa Rica. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. It’s one of our favorite eco-friendly products for everyday use!
Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling to sand or dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.