You’ll find quetzals among the rich wildlife in the Monteverde cloudforest reserve, but plan to spend several lazy days in the beautiful setting of El Sol. Horse ride to the hot springs for a relaxing bath, or simply gaze at the view while hummingbirds buzz around you and toucans fly by. Swing in one of the many hammocks, take a sauna and swim in the perfectly situated infinity pool. Witness first hand conservation efforts including forest restoration. Allow four days at least. You won’t want to leave.
- Good base for Monteverde and Santa Elena cloudforest reserves, among many other attractions. But El Sol’s landscape is an attraction in itself
- Warm and cosy feel with welcoming interiors: every corner has been lovingly considered to make you feel at home. Susanne is an amazing host, great at connecting people with each other
- Incredibly good value
- The food is fantastic, and the horse riding is often reported to be the highlight of guests’ entire trips
- Fresh water comes from a certified well in the cloud forest so fill up your bottles rather than buy bottled water
- You may want your own vehicle to get to El Sol and to the cloudforest reserves, both 25 minutes away, but most attractions offer free shuttles which El Sol can book for you or arrange cabs to Santa Elena if you prefer not to drive
- No TV, but being immersed in nature is wonderful alternative entertainment
- Paths to the cabins are only dimly lit at night to disturb the wildlife as little as possible; you're advised to close windows and doors at night to prevent insects joining you in the cabins (due to the high altitude mosquitos aren't really around)
- Accommodation is rustic rather than luxurious
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Jungle Lodge
- 4 cabins
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car not necessary
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
Colourful accommodation is in two self-contained cabins for 2-5, a two-bedroom villa for up to 6 and an apartment for 2. Everything has a creative rustic style of warmth and homeliness, with love and consideration in every detail including bathrooms with lots of towels, hot water, biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner.
Delightful little wooden cabin Honey Sun is situated down a short footpath. It has a kingsize bed, a small kitchen area, and a bathroom (shower and tub). There’s a porch with a hammock, a private garden space with superb open views out over the hills, and a wonderfully secluded feel: ideal for couples.
With an even more stunning location, at the end of a longer path is large log cabin Chalet in the Sun. It is ideal for a family with a queensize bed in a separate loft bedroom, and twin single beds in the living area, which can be second double bed if required, and sleeps up to 5. There's a panoramic view over the plains of Guanacaste from the wide balcony with hammock, a big wooden table and bench for dining outside. There's also a well-equipped kitchen and a bathroom with a bathtub, shower and even a view of the hills!
The recently refurbished Sunny Villa (sleeps up to 6) has two separate vibrant queensize bedrooms with private ensuite shower bathrooms. There's a fully equipped kitchen adjacent to a dining room and living area with two extra sofa beds and a third bathroom, an internal courtyard garden, and a large covered terrace with outside dining and hammocks surrounded by a wonderful tropical garden including banana and coffee plants, fruit trees and palms.
The newest addition, Sunny Garden apartment, is sited next door to the Villa but has its own entrance. The two can be taken together for a larger party. Perfect for couples, there's a kingsize bed, a small kitchenette and a shower bathroom. Best of all it comes with a large deck with hammock overlooking flowering shrubs, palm and fruit trees.
Meals are lovingly homemade by a local family, prepared the food to your liking and delivered to your cabin. Breakfast isn't included, but well worth the cost as the big portions are more like brunch and will last you all day. Choose from four different options - two veggie, one vegan, one meat; all come with fresh fruit and natural fruit juice. Traditional includes fried sweet apple plantains (grown on site), homemade local cheese, and gallo pinto with eggs. American and French toast differ only in pancakes or toast and both come with eggs. You'll also find complimentary tea, coffee, powdered full milk, cocoa powder and raw sugar waiting in your cabin or villa. There's also wine, local beer and craft beer available.
Lunch or dinner is served for those who aren't out and about (let Susanne know in advance). This could be beans with hash, meat of your choice with rice and steamed veg, vegetables with green salad and homemade cheese, or Caribbean chicken. If you do not have particular dietary requirements including vegan dishes you can opt for the “SOLprise” and let the cooks whip you up a feast of their choice! Nothing will be too spicy so not to worry, any jalapeños will be served on the side!
If you have a car and do want to make the journey into Santa Elena, there are of course many restaurants vying for your custom. Susanne is always very happy to give her insider recommendations.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Family friendly
- Lunch by arrangement
- Room service
- Vegetarian options
Susanne and her team always invite you to talk through everything you want to do so that they are able to make it a reality for you.
- One of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the neotropics, Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve protects around 60,000 hectares of primary forest, which – at an altitude of 1,400m – is almost constantly draped in cloud. It's open from 7am to 4pm daily
- This is an ideal habitat for over 400 species of birds, among them the Resplendent Quetzal, and more than 500 species of orchid. Just wandering the 13km of paths in the reserve is a magical experience, but go with a guide to see these extraordinary bird species which otherwise you can only hear. Scheduled guided walks leave at 7.30am, 12 noon, and 1.30pm. For a more in-depth experience, ask for a private guide
- Less visited but just as interesting, Santa Elena Cloudforest Reserve has 12km of trails to walk, as well as an observation tower, with guides for tours if you want them
- The Skywalk hanging bridges are well worth a visit. Around 2.5km of trails and suspension bridges at the level of the tree canopy, they allow you to see far more birdlife than from the ground. Our guide was excellent; passionate about finding and explaining interesting species of plants and animals
- For adrenaline-fuelled fun, try the Sky Adventures, and zip along 11 cables suspended above the forest from secure platforms, with stunning views. The best of all such adventures we found in Costa Rica, it's extremely safe and well-run, with well-designed pulleys and proper brakes
- For more entertainment of a natural kind, visit El Ranario ('the frog pond'), or the Monteverde Butterfly Garden
- The local Quaker community makes cheese famous throughout Costa Rica, and you can visit the factory
- Visit a coffee plantation with bilingual and knowledgeable guides. See the whole process, gain an insight into the coffee industry, enjoy a tasting, and you get a free sample to take home
- There are horse rides of 1-3 hours over different trails, through beautiful landscapes & run exclusively for El Sol guests. The horse ride will take you to a beautiful and secluded hot spring nearby. The tour includes a little picnic snack and will take you off the beaten track, past the flow of a cloud forest river to a handmade pool, which is sheltered by native trees and wildlife – a highlight for many!
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Traditional cultures
Children are very welcome – they will love El Sol and won’t want to go home. The cabins themselves are an adventure, tucked away along little paths with tremendous views. They’re perfectly safe for kids. The swimming pool is a delight, and children will love the horse riding.
Family friendly accommodation:
Book the Chalet in the Sun (sleeps up to 5) or the Whole Villa for up to 6 (+ the adjoining Sunny Apartment if you are a larger family party) – each can accommodate additional children if required.
Kids Activities on site:
- Pool with a shallow end and a beach-style entrance
- Swing next to the pool
- Huge gardens to roam around
- Coloured pens, pencils and chalk and paper provided in each cabin
Families Should Know:
Kids love it here for the freedom to run around in a safe environment
- Airport: 3 hours
- Private clinic: 8 minutes
- Shops: 8 minutes
El Sol is 8 minutes' drive from downtown Santa Elena (where the nearest shops and restaurants are), 10 minutes from Monteverde and 20 minutes from both cloudforest reserve entrances. It's about 3 hours from San José International Airport, Liberia airport and La Fortuna/Arenal.
San José Juan Santamaría International (162km away) and Liberia Daniel Oduber International (156km away) are Costa Rica's main international airports. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving them.
From the Airport
The drive from either airport takes around 3 hours. El Sol can arrange a transfer with a friendly bilingual driver, who can also take guests to other destinations in Costa Rica after their stay at El Sol.
You might want the freedom of a hire car, note that 4x4s are recommended. See our car rental recommendations.
There’s no way around it: the road up to Monteverde is challenging in places. The journey from La Fortuna takes 3 hours. El Sol is 8 minutes’ drive beyond Santa Elena. Driving from El Sol to Route 606 takes 20 minutes (11.5km), after which it's 40 minutes to the Panamerican highway. From there, the rest of Costa Rica is easily reached on good tarmacked roads. Beware also that the GPS system in Costa Rica is a little inaccurate, Waze works best, and it's recommended to double-check with El Sol's written directions.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Costa Rica and getting around
- Liberia Daniel Oduber International 156.0 km LIR
- San Jose Juan Santamaría International 162.0 km SJO
- Beach 60.0 km
- Shops 4.6 km
- Restaurant 4.6 km