Nestled in the cloud forest mountains of Costa Rica, at the end of a gravel road and on the border of two important and large national parks, sits Chakra Private Retreat Centre, a hand-made, off the grid lodge, built on the side of a mountain. Started nearly 10 years ago, simply as a conservation project, it has grown into a family owned and community-supported project that helps sustain the people of the small community of San Jeronimo. Today, it brings people from all around the world to the tiny mountain town to experience some time off the grid and some true mountain adventures. To try and explain the place is difficult, you truly have to experience it for yourself, but let me try and paint you a picture.
Imagine for a moment, holding a hot cup of locally grown and processed coffee, the smell rising up; you breathe it in as the heat from the cup warms your hands. The sounds of the rainforest surround you, birds and crickets chirping, the sound of a flowing river, a calming background noise.
In front of you are rising peaks and ridges, covered in dense and lush flora. You stand contained by a large wooden cabana, with partly complete walls; open to the nature around you so you can take it all in, every sight, sound, and smell. Birds playfully explore the nearby trees, eating their fruits, their colors made more brilliant by the light of the shining sun. This is your Chakra Eco Lodge, there are no distractions here, only you in this exact moment and the beauty of the rainforest.
Over the years, Chakra has grown from a conservation project with a few tent platforms, to a fully functional retreat centre. The team consists of two tropical biologists and their wives, all sharing a passion for the outdoors, adventure and conservation. Together they have built this dream over the years, aligning their passion for conservation, community development, and adventure into the vision. The project now has a strong sense of community by involving the small neighbouring town and empowering them to create their own culture around sustainable tourism. Over the years, countless trails have been built and maintained in the surrounding mountains by the communities own association of eco-tourism and many of the community members work for or with Chakra Lodge.
The retreat centre has now hosted over 30 different groups and has hosted retreats with companies such as Wild Women, Jen Segger’s Run BC, Run Like a Girl and Anna Frost’s Trail Run Adventures, and has more retreats in the works for 2020 with companies such as Choose Mountains.
Being right in the mountains makes it the perfect place for trail running or hiking with beautiful, rugged and technical mountain trails right out the backdoor. With various lengths and difficulty levels, there is often something for everyone, with even a community operated high mountain refuge at 3000m where you can spend the night and climb some of the local peaks for sunrise.
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Trail running or hiking in the cloud forest is unique but slowing the pace down often allows for wildlife viewings such as monkeys, various birds, and other native fauna. The site also has it’s own “adventure playground” that the lodge uses during most retreats because no matter what type of retreat, everyone deserves to feel like a kid again playing in nature! There is a massive and prominent Strangler Fig tree that has grown perfectly for climbing. You climb up 45ft into the canopy of the forest, with incredible views of the surrounding area and lodge.
There are also rock walls to learn how to rappel down before getting comfortable enough to take on the waterfall rappel, straight down a vertical fall into a pool.
But it isn’t just about the adventurous activities you can get up to, it’s also about the tranquility of the place. Our lives are tend to be so busy and loud, constantly bombarded with distractions, notifications, images, lights, and noises. Most of us would probably say our lives are hectic or stressful. But at Chakra, there is no option to connect, turn your phone on airplane mode to save the battery for photos, there is no cell service there. Most of the retreats we have hosted add the element of yoga on our large open yoga deck.
Sunrise flow yoga to start the day is a perfect way to warm up the body for the adventures ahead as the sun rises over the mountains. They often bring the pace down in the evening as the sunsets and the rain forest quiets with restorative candlelit yoga. But some may find that their favorite thing after a day time adventure and a healthy, hardy lunch… is curling up with a hot coffee and a book in a hammock and relaxing for the afternoon. What a treat it is to give yourself a break from it all and truly, completely relax.
The goal with Chakra Private Retreat Centre is for it to be shared with as many people as possible. As biologists and adventure enthusiasts, they have combined both their loves to create the project to what it is today. Conserving the amount of land they have been able to, has been a dream come true for them, and seeing how many people’s lives that have been touched is a real gift.
Chakra provides a safe place where life-changing experiences happen, whether consciously looking for it or not. Hailey says she has seen people’s lives truly change from their experience with them. Whether it is from taking the time to disconnect from it all and reconnect with themselves, or climbing to the top of a mountain, going the farthest and highest they’ve ever been or overcoming their fear of heights on our waterfall or climbing tree. Getting outside your comfort zone is truly a beautiful thing, you never know what might change you, and what changes might occur in your life.
If you want more information on the lodge or opportunities to stay, check out their Instagram: @chakraecolodge or email Hailey at Hailey.email@example.com