Boca Tapada Costa Rica

Is this paradise? Macquenque Eco Lodge, Costa Rica

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Beaches, rainforests, cloud forests and more wildlife than you can wave a palm leaf at… Costa Rica is one of the most in-demand holiday destinations in the world right now. And, back in November, HA’s Lou and Gabby were lucky enough to spend two weeks there, soaking it all up. 

Where does your mind go when you think of Costa Rica? Trees? Toucans flying overhead? Flowing rivers? Eden-like landscapes? Monkeys swinging through trees? 

Boca Tapada has it all. And so does the hidden rainforest treasure that is, Macquenque Eco Lodge.

Here are 10 reasons why Macquenque Eco Lodge in Boca Tapada makes for the perfect first stop on a two-week Costa Rica holiday.

1. It gets you straight off the beaten track

We might be biased, but we think it’s hard to find a better first stop on your Costa Rica holiday than a few nights at Macquenque Eco Lodge in Boca Tapada. This rainforest region gets you straight off the beaten track and straight into the natural Eden that Costa Rica is so well known (and loved!) for. 

It’s a three-hour, slightly bumpy, drive from San Jose. You’ll pass pineapple fields as far as the eye can see, drive through small villages with locals going about their day-to-day life, kids playing football in the roads and colourful washing drying outside houses.

Soon the road will turn to gravel and things get a little bumpy! But, once you make it there and to the base car park, your adventure really begins.

Everything about the approach to this place is magic – getting there feels like an event in itself. You have to call the reception from a connection station on one side of the river (it has a toilet too, helpful after the long drive!), and they then send a boat transfer across the river to get you. All of your luggage is taken for you and the loveliest welcome awaits you when you get to the other side.


Boca Tapada Costa Rica

This really does feel like real Indiana Jones/Jurassic Park-style adventuring. The river is surrounded by the densest jungle and your senses will be engulfed with the sounds of the rainforest in no time at all.

There’s something very special about staying somewhere you can only reach by boat. This was our very first pinch-ourself, we’re actually here moment! We’d definitely arrived on our Costa Rica holiday now.

2. You can stay in your very own treehouse

Top tip: Stay in a treehouse if you can!

After check-in with the lovely Saul, who handed us a refreshing fresh coconut – very welcome in the humidity! – it was time to head to our home for the next few nights.

We hopped in the back of a little truck with our bags and made our way down the trails as the sun went down and the sky turned a hazy shade of pink. The truck dropped us at the bridge that would lead us to our treehouse. When I say this was remote, I really mean it. The lights on the path ended about 100m before the path to our treehouse began. But, oh it was worth the trek.

Boca tapada treehouse

Teetering high in the trees (two huge flights of stairs up!) was our little slice of treetop luxury. There was no roughing it here though. Macquenque Lodge have done a brilliant job of maintaining all of the rustic charm, nature and experience you’d expect from a treehouse stay – just without the rickety gaps in the wood to let all the creepy crawlies in!

There were huge ceiling fans above the bed, so being hot wasn’t an issue. And I knew that with the backdrop of the live sounds of the rainforest (a soundtrack people pay good money for these days on wellness apps), I’d have no trouble drifting off.

What we really love about the treehouses at Macquenque Eco Lodge is that each one has been built in such a way that causes absolutely no damage to the trees. The environment and nature always come first here. The way it should be!

3. The peace and quiet

It can’t be described as ‘silence’ as such… as the air is filled with a medley of birdsong and monkey calls. But starting your Costa Rica holiday in Boca Tapada will acquaint you wonderfully quickly to the wild peace that makes the country so special.

On our first morning, I woke up in our treehouse to the rising sun glinting through the trees and the flowing, white curtains. Laying there in silence for 15 minutes, listening to the birds’ morning chorus and the howler monkeys making a racket, is a wake-up I’ll never forget. It almost converted me to being a morning person. Almost.

Walking out of the door to head to breakfast, we had the chance to take in our surroundings in daylight for the first time. Our treehouse felt higher up in the daytime! We had a little family of bats snoozing in the eves (so still and peaceful we thought they were hinges at first) and some slightly ominous-looking buzzy creature we chose not to mess with.

4. The naturalist guides are fantastic

The naturalist guides at Maquenque Lodge were just brilliant. Jose (on the left above), took us on the best coffee and chocolate tour – more on that later. And Luis (on the right), was our guide on our boat tour along the river. You can just tell that all of the guides take such joy in their work. They live and breathe what they do, this isn’t just a job for them – it really is a way of life.

They spend years researching all of the different flora, fauna, wildlife. They can tell you all about the medicinal qualities of plants, as well as identifying the bird calls of specific birdlife so you’ll know exactly what is near by at any time.

After one tour with these guys, you’ll understand exactly why it’s so valuable to experience these trails with a guide. Of course, they’re special even on your own, but we spotted so much with Jose and Luis that we would have definitely missed without them.

Hear directly from the lovely, Luis, why he thinks you need to visit Costa Rica, here.

5. One for the twitchers: The birdwatching is second-to-none

You don’t need to venture far to be treated to top-notch twitching at Macquenque Eco Lodge. Right by the restaurant, there’s a big birdfeeder that is loaded with fresh fruit every morning. This means you’re almost guaranteed to be treated to the most wonderful bird show whilst you munch on your fresh fruit over breakfast.

Costa Rica, without doubt, made a birdwatcher out of me. And Macquenque Eco Lodge was responsible for a great deal of that convincing. The toucans, tannigers, oropendolas and parakeets were all so vibrant and popped up everywhere you looked. Nothing quite like mother nature’s talents fluttering past whilst you munch on your pancakes.

6. You can take a boat trip to the Nicaragua border and visit a local village

two weeks in Costa Rica Boca Tapada

Granted, the weather wasn’t on our side the morning of our boat trip. As soon as we left the dock, the heavens opened. And who forgot their raincoat? Me, of course.

Top Tip: Regardless of what time of year you visit Costa Rica, it’s always a good idea to pop a pack-a-mac in your bag. You never know when you might be treated to the full, soggy, rainforest experience. And it’s always best to come prepared!

7. Enjoy a coffee and chocolate tour

Costa Rica is renowned for two of (arguably) the most delicious things on earth. Coffee and chocolate. And at Macquenque Eco Lodge, you can experience both on their farm tour.

Jose led us through the grounds on a bit of a nature walk, before we started the tour by making a local cocktail. (The way all tours should start if you ask me). The cocktail was made from the freshest sugarcane juice (squeezed by mine and Lou’s own fair hands as you can see from the action shot below, it was quite the workout!), lime juice, and the local spirit, Cacique. It was delicious. So delicious in fact, I may or may not have indulged in a second cup…

Jose then led us through the organic vegetable and herb gardens (both of which supply the restaurant at the lodge) before we took a seat at the coffee station. Jose then taught us all about the coffee production process, from bean to cup before we got to taste the coffee bean and ultimately, the coffee.

The chocolate

And then, the even better bit. Because, who doesn’t love chocolate? We learnt all about the process of creating chocolate, from tree to bar. Firstly though, did you know that there’s a chocolate flower?! You can see it in the photo on the right below.

The process is more involved than you might think. Firstly, the cacao beans are roasted, before being cracked, crushed down and then ground into a fine paste. The paste is then ‘conched’, by being put through a device that mixes and mashes it, before finally heading to the final tempering stage. When the chocolate is being tempered, it’s heated and cooled multiple times until it reaches the desired result and quality.

The tour finished with samples of hot chocolate, solid milk chocolate and a delicious chocolate sauce that we both could have happily swam in for the rest of the afternoon.

8. The food is incredible (and the cocktails aren’t half bad either!)

We were fed seriously well at Macquenque Eco Lodge. A warning for those with smaller appetites – the portion sizes are VERY generous.

There’s a huge mix of options on the menu. From quesadillas and sushi, all the way through to the local breakfast of Gallo Pinto (shown in the photo above!) and the freshest fruit you’ve ever tasted. The majority of food and drink served in the restaurant is all sourced locally (much of it as local as their very own organic farm!)

Every single thing we ate and drank was delicious, and all served with a side of wonderful Costa Rican smile, of course.

Swinging in the rocking chair overlooking the river, watching the birds flutter by, whilst sipping on that fresh mango daiquiri above, really was such a treat.

9. The trails around the lodge are an adventure in themself and there’s even a pool to unwind by

You don’t have to go far to have a wildlife experience at Macquenque Eco Lodge. Even just walking from your bungalow or treehouse to the restaurant, you’re guaranteed to pass a whole host of animals, flora and fauna.

We spotted bats, caterpillars, monkeys, toucans, and nightjars – all just on the stroll from our treehouse to the restaurant for a sundowner.

10. The people here give you the perfect, warm welcome to Costa Rica and the Pura Vida lifestyle

From the boat crossing and the check-in, to the truck drivers, barman, waitresses, owners and guides – everyone here will make you feel like you’re a priority.

So many smiles, so much generosity and all of the warmth. Maquenque Eco Lodge is the perfect introduction to Pura Vida!

Whether you stay in one of the 15 bungalows or the 10 treehouses at Macquenque Eco Lodge, you’ll find yourself immersed in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of normal life and surrounded by more wildlife than you can count. So many of the lovely people we send to Costa Rica tell us that this spot was one of their Costa Rica holiday highlights. And, after spending a few days here, I get that completely.

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