Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, located on the confluence of the Rio Puerto Viejo and the Río Sarapiqui, was once one of Costa Ricas most important river harbors. Transporting pineapple, coffee and bananas, the boats went up the Sarapiqui River turning into the San Juan River which forms the natural border to Nicaragua and the heads east to the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, the inhabitants of the town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui mainly live from agriculture and tourism. The region is one of the most important exporters of pineapple and heart of palm. There are a few very nice Eco Lodges located between the town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui and La Virgen along the Río Sarapiqui. Activities such as White Water Rafting, Horseback Riding, Canopy Tours, Kayaking, Hiking and River Tours on the Sarapiqui are the main attractions of this region. Chilamate is also famous for its variety of birds and a “must” for enthusiastic bird watchers.
The Sarapiqui / Chilamate region is also one of the most important areas where pineapple is grown. While visiting a plantation you can learn about how pineapple is grown, harvested and prepared for exportation. Interesting details can be learned about different types of pineapple and different tastes which the visitor may often sample himself.
There are several tours offered in the region, one by the worldwide largest fruit exportation company. The tour is professionally organized, yet the environmental problems that the growing of pineapple in large scales causes are mainly ignored.
A nice alternative close to the Quinta de Sarapiquí Country Inn is the plantation of the Corsicana Company. Here pineapple is grown – with a few restrictions – organically. The “Original Pineapple Tour” is located on the road between Puerto Viejo and La Virgen, close to the “La Quinta Sarapiqui Country Inn”.
Boat tour on the Río Sarapiquí River
The Sarapiquí River has its source in the Cordillera Central and in the Northern part of the country flows into the border river that separates Costa Rica from Nicaragua, the Río San Juan. During a 2-hour trip by motorboat, starting and ending in the village of Sarapiquí, many different species of birds, howler monkeys, river turtles, crocodiles and other types of animals can be spotted. The tour can be booked directly in the landing stage of the village; boat guides are always on site. It is important to revise the state of the boats and make sure you receive life vests.
The tour can also be booked via Tierra Verde.
La Selva Biological Research Station
La Selva is one of the most important international biological research stations, owned by the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of approximately 50 universities in the United States and Costa Rica. La Selva works closely with the surrounding community by involving them directly in the research being carried out by using their farms as study sites while at the same time educating them in new conservation techniques, new viable native species for reforestation, etc. La Selva also offers a course to train locals as naturalist guides. In 1978, the Braulio Carrillo National Park was created in the mountains south of La Selva. The Park was subsequently extended 20 kilometers northward to connect with the research station.
The research station is mainly visited by scientists and also offers accommodation.
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SarapiquiS Rainforest Lodge
Ecolodge, rainforest reserve, museum, botanical garden, archaeological park, library and education center
The SarapiquiS Rainforest Lodge works based on a concept combining sustainable tourism, education and scientific research. Next to the Sarapiquis Rainforest Eco Lodge with 36 rooms and restaurant, there are also the archeological park “Alma Ata”, a museum, the Chester’s Field Botanical Garden as well as the about 330 hectare Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve and the “Ulima” research center which can be visited by the interested traveler. The project is run by the “Landscape Foundation Belgium”, a non-profit organization which has been founded in 1992 by Belgian landscape architects.
With an exhibition area of about 1000 m², the museum of the SarapiquiS Rainforest Lodge is one of the biggest of its kind in Central America. The main focuses are within the topic “Men and Nature”, mainly dealing with biodiversity and natural history, ethnology, pre-Columbian cultures and protection of the rain forests. Part of the museum is a projection room where documentaries about the nature and culture of the tropics are show.
Opening hours: Daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- “Chester´s Field” Botanical Garden
The botanical garden forms a link with several topics of the Centro Neotrópico and has been created to reflect the huge biodiversity of the rain forest. It is interesting to note that the Chester’s Field has been created in collaboration with the National Botanical Garden of Belgium.
The garden offers several areas:
- Plants with an historic or economic value, including medical and agricultural plants
- Tropical ornamental plants and plants that are essential for rain forest animals
- Reforestation of agricultural areas which form the transition zones to the Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve
Other areas have been planted with plants attraction butterflies and hummingbirds. In total, about 400 different types of plants have been categorized and signposted.
Opening hours: Daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- “Alma Ata“- Archaeological Park
The excavation site is situated on an orange grove, on which an extensive pre-Columbian tomb field has been discovered in 1999. The following excavation works and the development of the park have been realized in close collaboration with the National Museum of Costa Rica.
Four major themes are exhibited in the park:
- 15th century Costa Rica with a re-built village
- Reconstruction of housing and village plan of the indigenous village
- Pre-Columbian Burial Field
- Petroglyphs: Reproduction of a stone field with petroglyphs
Illustrated information is provided along the trails in the park informing visitors about the scientific and archeologic backgrounds of the different areas.
Opening hours: Daily from 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m.
Tirimbina Rainforest Center
The Tirimbina Rainforest Center protects a large area of premontane rainforest and is home to a large variety of tropical flora and fauna. Next to many other species, howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys and spider monkeys can be observed. About 7 km of well maintained walkways invite the visitor to discover the reserve. At the entrance of the reserve, one of the longest hanging bridges in Costa Rica crosses the Sarapiquí River. Guided tours with different themes are offered, for example a night hike to watch bats or a “Chocolate Tour”.
Opening hours: Daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Cacao Tour / “Chocolate Tour“
The cacao tree originated in Mesoamerica and has a rich and extraordinary history, being one of the most important products for Mayan and Aztec civilizations, as well as other Central American cultures. The discovery of the Americas led European explorers to introduce chocolate to Europe, which transformed it into the delicious product known today.
The Chocolate Tour begins by taking you across the hanging bridge to the Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve, crossing the Sarapiquí River and to a former cacao-tree (Theobroma cacao) plantation. During the walk, you will learn about the natural and cultural history of the cacao tree. and, upon reaching the plantation, a TRC guide will reveal the secrets of transforming cacao fruit into chocolate. You’ll see the chocolate-making process first-hand and even have the opportunity to treat your taste buds to organic rainforest chocolate! After the tour, you can visit the TRC gift shop to purchase some organic cacao chocolate bars made by the Asociación de Mujeres Amazilia del Caribe, a group of local women from Pueblo Nuevo de Guácimo.
Chocolate Tours are offered from 09:00 a.m. –12:00 m.d. and 02:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Reservations are required.
Hacienda Pozo Azul
The Hacienda Pozo Azul is a dairy farm of about 800 hectares, close to the village of La Virgen de Sarapiquí, bordering the Braulio Carrillo national park and located on the riverbank of the Río Sarapiquí. Next to the ecological dairy products and biogas production, the farm started to additionally focus on tourism and now successfully offers adventure and ecological tours with different focuses in the nearby area. The location on the border of the intact rainforest of the Braulio Carrillo national park is perfect for this undertaking. All tour guides are very experienced and enjoyed an in-depth training. The used equipment complies with international security standards.
Lately also accommodation is offered on the property of the farm: The Cuculmeca Tent Camp consists of 25 tents of platforms, equipped with comfortable mattresses and lighting. The Magsasay Lodge is a historic wooden house on the border of the forest and close to the farm, which now offers 10 guest rooms and a restaurant.
The Sarapiquí River is known as the scenic river of Costa Rica's tropical rain forest, has its origin on the Deception Depression between the Poás and Barba volcanoes and runs for 85 km (53 Miles) to the San Juan River, the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
While climbing is going up the wall, Rappelling is going down. An absolutely safe confidence builder. You will be hooked to a harness and a rappelling rope and will be able to lean back over the edge and walk down the wall. At all times a "belayer" will support you. After the first step, it's all downhill!
For years the owners and operators of Hacienda Pozo Azul, the Quintana family, have been horse lovers and active participants of horse rides throughout the country.What they offer you is their knowledge, experienceand their high quality horses to assure you an unforgettable experience.
The exhilarating Costa Rican Invention of zipping through the tree top canopy in a beautiful jungle setting, with experienced guides and safety features.
The 2000 acres of tropical rain forest of Hacienda Pozo Azul offer many hiking routes. It has submitted all its 400 acres of forested areas to the Costa Rican government program for natural resource protection and conservation, therefore great part of the trails are located within these forests. A naturalist guide is requested on some of the trails to help take full advantage of the fascinating and rich Neotropical biodiversity during your hike.