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HomeArchiveRetreat to Río Chirripó in the Southern Zone

Retreat to Río Chirripó in the Southern Zone

Every corner of Río Chirripó Yoga Retreat is an invitation to relaxation. From the constant background sound of the running river to the beautiful gardens and pure cotton bed sheets, a stay at Río Chirripó is sure to soothe the souls of those looking for a respite from the city. 

The hotel sits in the midst of beautiful mountains swathed in dense green canopy, just a few kilometers from San Gerardo de Rivas, the Southern Zone mountain town where climbers begin their treks to the summit of Mt. Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest peak. 

Although mountain climbing is certainly an option, the focus at Río Chirripó is on calmer pursuits such as yoga, art and simple enjoyment of nature. The retreat seems to sit in a little valley all its own, enveloped by the forest and all its natural splendor. A two-minute walk downhill from the main lobby area takes guests to the clear, tumbling waters of the Chirripó River. 

When owner Frank Faiella first arrived in San Gerardo de Rivas, he instantly fell in love with the area. “Something about this town made me think of the beautiful California landscapes,” he said. 

Faiella bought an unfinished hotel and restaurant and, over the past 13 years, transformed it into a beautiful lodge and yoga retreat. He and his girlfriend, Oriana Alvarado, are hospitable hosts and a big part of the hotel’s charm. 

The rooms, lobby and dining area are tastefully decorated. The lobby, a spacious, hacienda-style, open-air rancho, has thick walls and a beautiful ceiling of caña brava, a native reed similar to bamboo. An attractive sitting area surrounds a magnificent fireplace, and colorful cushions and fresh-cut flowers give life to the room.

Rio Chirripo Yoga Retreat

Lobby, with painting by Helen Eltis on easel.

Karla Arias Alvarado

The hotel has eight beautifully appointed standard rooms with balconies opening onto gardens and tall trees. Some rooms are furnished with a queen bed; others have one queen and one single bed. 

Río Chirripó also offers two unique accommodations: the Casa Café and the River Cabin. Flower gardens lead the way to the entrance of Casa Café, a small house with its own kitchen and balcony. The house is beautifully decorated, with thick walls and caña brava columns for a perfect mix of hacienda and Balinese styles.

But for a full experience, the River Cabin is by far the best place to stay at the hotel. Just a few steps from the riverside, this charming cottage is elevated on stilts and has its own wooden terrace. The wood and tiles inside the cabin give it a rustic yet modern feel. The sound of the rushing river is a never-ending lullaby here.

In addition to beautiful accommodations, Río Chirripó offers a wide variety of activities to fill the day. The private Cloudbridge Nature Reserve gives nature lovers the opportunity to experience the Chirripó mountainside and cloud forest. Also nearby is the Quesos Canaán cheese factory, where owner Wilberth Mata and family make delicious aged cheeses unique in the region. 

But the retreat itself offers an array of on-site options, including, of course, yoga. Classes are given daily by local and visiting yoga teachers on a beautiful deck with a forest view – a truly peaceful space where the sound of the river and the cool mountain breeze enhance practice. And a day at Río Chirripó is not complete without a walk in the gardens, a swim in the pool, a soak in the Jacuzzi, and a delicious meal made with food grown in the hotel’s organic gardens. 

This month, the hotel began offering packages including art lessons by British artist Helen Eltis. Eltis paints in watercolors and acrylics and has exhibited at Galería Valanti at Los Sueños Marina Village in Playa Herradura, on the central Pacific coast.

“I firmly believe that anyone can learn to paint if they follow instructions,” Eltis says. “Painting fits Río Chirripó retreat perfectly as it is also a very relaxing activity.”

Rio Chirripó Yoga Retreat

Guest room. Courtesy of Río Chirripó Yoga Retreat

Going There

Río Chirripó Yoga Retreat is 45 minutes from San Isidro de El General in the Southern Zone. From San José, take the Inter-American Highway south to San Isidro and continue south through the city. After crossing two bridges, you will see a sign on the right to Parque Nacional Chirripó and a Maxibodega supermarket on the left. Take the road on the left that goes parallel to the highway. Continue for approximately 12 km to the town of Rivas. Once you pass the center of town and the church on your right, turn right and go about 9 km on a gravel road to the village of Canaán; 50 meters past the cemetery you will see a paved driveway and a sign for Río Chirripó Retreat. 

The hotel offers a variety of packages. A package including accommodations, art lessons, yoga lessons and three meals a day is available for yoga teachers bringing groups to the hotel, starting at $170 per night, per person. Weekend packages for residents and tourists looking to escape the city for a few days and group bookings are also available. For more information, call 2742-5333, email or visit


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