Combining Adventure and Ecotourism at the Pacuare Lodge

By Roberto Fernández, Pacuare Lodge owner

Over the years, we have worked to build a tourism enterprise that allows guests to experience unforgettable outdoor adventures while contributing to the conservation of nature and the development of local communities.

The Pacuare Lodge’s idyllic location – at the edge of a vast rainforest overlooking the spectacular Pacuare River – helps to make every stay a unique and exciting experience. The surrounding rainforest holds a wealth of tropical nature and indigenous communities, but what makes the Pacuare Lodge a truly special place is the friendliness and dedication of its staff, who do everything they can to ensure that each guest has an enjoyable, educational and relaxing stay.

The natural beauty of the Pacuare River is what convinced us to build the Pacuare Lodge, and guests experience the full grandeur of that whitewater river – National Geographic listed it as one of the world’s 10 most scenic rivers – on the rafting trips that take them to and from the lodge. We have always prioritized limiting the negative impacts of tourism on the river and rainforest, and have striven to benefit local people and conservation. All Pacuare Lodge staff come from the communities near the river, and we own and protect a 340-hectare (840-acre) private reserve, 90% of whichis covered with pristine rainforest.

Our property borders the Nairi Awari IndianReservation, a vast, forested area that is home to members of Costa Rica’s largest indigenous group: the Cabécar. Having Cabécar neighbors has been a blessing because it has allowed us to interact with the people who have lived in the area since time immemorial. Establishing a relationship with them has been a slow process, but from the beginning we strove to cultivate a relationship of trust and sincere friendship, which has been beneficial for the lodge and for Cabécar families. We‘ve worked together on development projects for the Cabécar community and on a process to rescue their traditions and culture.

So now, in addition to the thrill of arriving and departing on a rafting trip, and adventures such as gliding through the treetops on our canopy tour, rappelling down rock walls in a jungle canyon, or dining by candlelight on a platform high in the branches of a Ceiba tree, guests can learn about Cabécar traditions at a ‘rancho’ (traditional indigenous home) near the lodge, or hike deep into the rainforest to visit a Cabécar farm. Local guides who have practically grown up at the Pacuare Lodge take guests through rainforest for morning bird watching or nature walks, or tell them about the jaguar research and monitoring that we support in our area.

In this way, guests at the Pacuare Lodge enjoy both ecotourism and outdoor adventures, to the degree that suites their interests. They also interact with local people who will happily explain how the lodge has benefited the area’s inhabitants by providing good jobs and other income opportunities, environmental education, and initiatives to protect the Pacuare River and the flora and fauna of the rainforest.

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