Anthropology, Adventure, and Authenticity

I’m a fickle traveler. 

But I’ve earned the right to be so. I’ve traveled far and wide in my near-fifty years. For work, for research, and for adventure. During these escapades, I’ve had the good fortune to stumble upon life (not only my own) being lived out in quiet and beautiful simplicity.

Most recently, I ventured to Costa Rica for a personal retreat into the depths of the rainforest-draped mountains. The very primary forests that helped make the country a world destination for ecological tourism. 

I traveled to Costa Rica in search of something remote, unique, and authentic. And I found it at Pacuare Lodge.

The Lodge is named after the Pacuare River—one of the top 10 rivers in the world for its beauty and purity, according to National Geographic. And much of the lodge’s focus and activities revolve around the river’s commanding presence and the pristine natural bounty harbored in the surrounding rainforest. 

What elevates Pacuare Lodge out of the realm of every day “eco-lodgedom,” however, is the integration of the Cabécar Indigenous culture and tradition into the hotel’s social fabric and philosophy. 

What I observed during my four days at the lodge was that the staff themselves are an essential part of the guest’s experience.  Unlike most mainstream tourist destinations where the image and romantic idealism of traditional peoples is borrowed to boost appeal. At Pacuare, the concept of community engagement is taken seriously. 

Cabécar People are the largest and most remote indigenous groups in the country. Their population is divided into eight groups, each independent community lives within Costa Rica’s mountainous wilderness. Lending to their relative geographical isolation, the Cabécar have maintained much of their original customs, culture, and language. 

The lodge sits on the banks of the Pacuare in the Talamanca Corridor of the southeast Caribbean region. Surrounding the lodge is a 340 hectares (840 acres) nature preserve that borders the Nairi Awari Cabécar homeland.  

At least 10 Cabécar staff work permanently at the lodge, primarily as artisans, weaving and sculpting elaborate creations such as beautiful lamps and headboards for the bedrooms, wood or clay sculptures, decorative wall accents, and much more. Others work in the hotel, expansive gardens, or as tour guides and naturalists, introducing visitors to the magic and mystery of the river habitat and dense forests. 

Eight unique experiences are included in the Pacuare lodging package, two of which allow guests to explore the Cabécar culture at a deeper level. Among the choices offered are a  

Cabécar Indian Rancho & Rainforest Hike and the Cabécar Indigenous Hike

The former is a light walk through the forest to observe the prolific wildlife and exotic fauna before breakfasting at a Cabécar tradition dwelling (thatched rancho). Visitors are introduced to Cabécar traditions, beliefs, and local art and craftsmanship. Nearby is a replica of the archaeological ruins of the country’s earliest peoples found at the Guayabo National Monument.

The Cabécar Indigenous Hike is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the trek over an ancient trail carved into the mountains by the Cabécar people generations ago. The hike culminates with a cultural encounter in the village and a mystifying dip in a secluded waterfall.

The Cabécar people are an integral part of the Pacuare Lodge experience. I felt blessed to witness a small piece of their fascinating culture during my retreat into adventure and authenticity in Costa Rica. 

Book a Costa Rican vacation package from Pacuare Lodge and experience the best of Costa Rica.

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