National Geographic Society Unveils its Unique Lodges of the World

Following months of secrecy and a rigorous evaluation process, National Geographic Society revealed today the founding members of its newest foray in world-class travel experiences, National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, with Costa Rica able to boast that it is the home of two of National Geographic’s hand picked lodges.

The founding collection features only 24 properties across six continents. Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge, a member of the Cayuga Collection located in the Osa Peninsula, and Pacuare Lodge, overlooking the Pacuare River on the Turrialba Region, join a list that includes lodges from South Africa, Peru, Canada, Tanzania, Chile, Bhutan, Malaysian Borneo, Morocco, Greece, the USA, and Australia.


Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica
Guest Room at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge located in the rain forest of the Osa Peninsula next to the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica.


“As a pioneer of sustainable, luxury eco-lodges, Lapa Rios will be a proud member of National Geographic Society’s Unique Lodges of the World,” says Cayuga Collection’s president and co-founder Hans Pfister. “Since Karen and John Lewis first opened its doors in 1993, Lapa Rios has set the bar for sustainable tourism best practices and it is only fitting that its name is now joined with National Geographic, a trusted brand name globally.”

Each of the 24 chosen properties underwent a comprehensive vetting process. Sustainable tourism best practices were reviewed along with the quality of guest experiences, to ensure they enabled guests to engage with local people and local customs. The actual properties of the lodges themselves were also reviewed to ensure the design and character is unique and authentic, providing a true sense of place while celebrating the surrounding landscape and cultural heritage.

Lapa Rios Eco Lodge
Main building roof structure and staircase leading to a 360 degree observation deck at Lapa Rios Eco Lodge.

“By creating this carefully curated roup of hotels, lodges and retreats that meet internationally recognized sustainable tourism criteria while providing top-notch guest experiences, National Geographic opens a new chapter in the power of travel to protect our planet,” said Costas Christ, a world-renowned sustainable tourism expert and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who coordinated an international team to inspect each of the lodges. “Travelers can feel confident when they stay in one of these lodges that they are helping to safeguard cultural and natural treasures in some of the world’s most incredible places.”

The announcement of the special collection of lodges further builds National Geographic’s travel portfolio, which includes National Geographic Expeditions, Traveler Magazine, travel books, photography courses and the @NatGeoTravel digital and photography community. Lodge members have each designed exclusive “National Geographic” experiences for guests who book through

Pacuare Lodge
Guest room at Pacuare Lodge. This room is accessed via a hanging bridge.

“Owning and operating an award winning luxury lodge in the middle of a jungle is an immensely rewarding and challenging labour of love,” says Roberto Fernandez , founder  of the  Pacuare Lodge. “We are honoured to be chosen as a founding member of National Geographic Society’s Unique Lodges of the World and we are looking forward to welcoming guests from all over the world who are seeking National Geographic experiences, which we feel we have been offering since we first opened our doors.”

Only guests who book Pacuare Lodge through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World will experience a special meeting of a Cabecar Shaman’s son, who will provide personal insights into the Cabecar culture and daily life. Cabecar Indians are Costa Rica’s largest indigenous group and have retained their traditional customs and beliefs through the centuries. The Zutkia, or shaman, plays a multifaced role in Cabecar culture as priest, magician, metaphysician or healer.

Pacuare River Rafting
Guests arrive at Pacuare Lodge in rafts. The Pacuare River is one of the world’s premier rivers for white water rafting.

At Lapa Rios, guests who book through National Geographic may enjoy two special experiences. A waterfall lunch follows a hike through the pristine primary lowland Pacific rainforest that surrounds Lapa Rios Eco Lodge with one of its locally trained wildlife guides. Guests may search for the Osa endemic poison dart frog and take a refreshing dip in the pools surrounding the natural waterfall. A private table set on a wooden deck overlooks the waterfall and guests will dine on local ingredients, surrounded by Costa Rica’s spectacular flora and fauna while they indulge in wildlife viewing.

 A later afternoon option is a hike with one of Lapa Rios expert bird guides along nearby trails and beaches. At the end of the hike, guests will find a table prepared exclusively for them to enjoy a sundowner cocktail and local snacks right on a pristine beach where the rainforest meets the ocean.

Lapa Rios Wild Waterfall
Go for a dip in one of the wild waterfalls in the Lapa Rios Rain Forest Reserve on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.

 About Lapa Rios Rainforest Ecolodge

A member of the Cayuga Collection, Lapa Rios Ecolodge is an award winning 16-bungalow ecolodge protecting over 1,000 acres of rainforest on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica, an area prized for its biodiversity and soon to be named World Heritage Site. The more than 60 staff members are from the local wilderness area, and environmental education is fundamental to the employees and international guests’ experience. Lapa Rios is certified by the country’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program and was the first ecolodge to receive the highest award of ‘five leaves.’ In April 2013 the owners signed a conservation easement that protects over 900 acres of land surrounding Lapa Rios in perpetuity. Lapa Rios is also a member of the Zeitz Foundation’s Long Run Destinations.  For more information, visit

About Pacuare Jungle Lodge

The spectacular Pacuare River forms the northern border of Central America’s most important network of national parks and reserves and offers some of the finest white water in the world. Its waters course through a wilderness of dense vegetation that covers the sides of steep gorges rising above riverbanks. Tucked deep in the heart of Costa Rica’s most pristine rainforest and on the banks of the Pacuare River lies Pacuare Lodge, a privately-owned adventure  lodge set on 846 acres offering 19 guest bungalows surrounded by nature in its most primitive state.  Pacuare Lodge’s first and foremost priority is the preservation of the environment, land and culture in this protected region. For more information please contact

Pacuare Lodge at night
Main building with restaurant of Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica at night.

 About National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World

“The National Geographic brand is universally recognized for its commitment to exploring and protecting the planet, so we are uniquely positioned to unite and promote these exceptional properties and to set a new standard for tourism,” said Lynn Cutter, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Travel. “These lodges share the Society’s vision of preserving the planet for future generations and they demonstrate that sustainability and a world-class guest experience can go hand-in-hand.”

National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World charter members are:

  •  Fogo Island Inn, Canada
  • Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
  • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
  • Kapari Natural Resort, Greece
  • Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
  • Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
  • Lizard Island, Australia
  • Longitude 131°, Australia
  • Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
  • Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
  • Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
  • Rosalie Bay Resort, Dominica
  • Rubundo Island Camp, Tanzania
  • Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
  • Sayari Camp, Tanzania
  • Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
  • Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo
  • The Brando, French Polynesia
  • The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United States
  • Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
  • Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
  • Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
  • Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
  • Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan

For more information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit

National Geographic Eco Lodges
National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World Website featuring Lapa Rios Eco Lodge and Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica.

About National Geographic Travel

National Geographic Travel is the travel arm of the National Geographic Society, one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, founded in 1888. National Geographic Travel creates authentic, meaningful and engaging travel experiences through National Geographic Traveler magazine; National Geographic Expeditions; National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World; travel books; maps; digital travel content; and travel photography programs. National Geographic Traveler (eight issues per year) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and has 17 international editions. National Geographic Expeditions, the travel program of the Society, offers a variety of unique travel experiences led by top experts to more than 60 destinations across all seven continents. Travel opportunities include family and student expeditions, active adventures, private jet trips and voyages on the six expedition ships in the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet, as well as photography workshops, expeditions and seminars. The National Geographic Travel digital group, shares its inspiring and authoritative digital content such as trip ideas, photo galleries, blogs and apps with its @NatGeoTravel community of 6.5 million. National Geographic Travel books bring readers curated travel advice, photography and insider tips. Follow National Geographic Travel @NatGeoTravel on TwitterFacebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.

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