Costa After 2 nights at Manuel Antonio and my altercation with the Coon we decided to move on. Leg #2 of our Costa Rican road trip: The Rainmaker Conservation Project – a Costa Rica ecotourism experience per se!
Costa Rica ecotourism – An alternative to the state owned parks
For those who don’t know it yet, Costa Rica is a pretty big player in the national parks and nature conservation projects business.
According to the Go Visit Costa Rica website, the country has some 27 national parks, 58 wildlife refuges, 32 protected zones, 15 wetland areas, 11 forest reserves and 8 biological reserves, as well as 12 other conservation regions. Basically, not less than 1/4 of Costa Rica is protected land and ecotourism is one of its key activities. So, if you visit Costa Rica, you’ll become at one point or another a nature exploring, wildlife saving, tree hugging bird of passage… Nah, just kidding! But you’ll learn a lot about the country’s biodiversity and how to care a bit more for poor old mother earth!
Not less than 1/4 of Costa Rica is protected land
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However, after visiting Manuel Antonio, one of the more notorious Costa Rican national parks, with its hordes of sightseers and curious wildlife aficionados, it was a welcome change to go for something a bit smaller in size and homelier. The Rainmaker is a family owned piece of rainforest that was the first of all those Costa Rican parks to build an aerial walkway and a canopy tour.
The Rainmaker Conservation Project
Before getting to the Rainmaker Park itself, I think it might be valuable to know the story behind this luxuriant family project.
The Rainmaker Conservation Project came alive due to a tragic incident. A local farmer formerly owned this mountain of lush rainforest and abundant wildlife. This farmer, though, was in need of money and had to sell his land. Because of its rich biodiversity the farmer’s wish was to sell it to someone with the desire to preserve this unique spot. And that someone was Mauricio Gutierrez.
Unfortunately, two days before signing the purchasing papers, Mauricio drowned in the heart of the mountain, while saving a child who had fallen into one of its waterfalls.
When Mauricio’s family found out about his project of saving the mountain, they did everything to acquire that patch of land and accomplish his dearest wish.
Mauricio’s wife, Ann Gutierrez, renegociated the purchase and so, the Rainmaker Conservation Project finally came to life in memory of Mauricio Gutierrez. Today, the family still owns the land and carries on this fantastic project.
The eco-tours of the Rainmaker Project
There are several tours that you can book over their website and will bring you closer to untouched rainforest and the life within it.
The River walk & Canopy Tour, this tour starts at dawn, so be ready to be properly awake and all fresh at the break of day!
The Amphibians & Reptiles Tour, is an after dusk expedition for those who want to find themselves eyeball to red eyeball with the famous Costa Rican green leaf frog (with its red eyes) amongst others.
The Bird Watching Morning Tour – well, I guess, there’s no need to explain this one, the name says it all.
Create your own Rainmaker experience
You can either book a tour, or just walk around on your own… we opted for the latter. But if you choose a day tour, you will sweat your way across the rainforest holding the map in your clammy little hands. Why sweating? Well, you are visiting the humid rainforest and during daytime temperatures can go through the roof. But that’s okay because the highlights of the walk are the refreshing waterfalls and natural pools you can splash around.
After effort comes (refreshing) comfort … with a local craft beer!
The best part about the Rainmaker eco-experience is that at the end you can treat yourself to a PerroVida, a local craft beer made with the spring water from the Rainmaker mountain or as the producers would say: Craft Beer brewed in Mother Natures back yard.
So, just sit down, relax with the other travellers and exchange your impressions over a chilled beer!
Anyway, we had a fab time hiking around the canopy, enjoying the swims and joyously dodging funny insects and odd flying bugs. Life’s wonderful at Rainmaker and you shouldn’t miss out on that stopover.
How to get there from Manuel Antonio
Take the main highway to San Jose. They say that the colorful sign is visible just after the town of Pocares on the right. Look hard, it’s an astoundingly small dirt road that goes up there, so you might miss it. We missed it twice, but then again, that’s not a reference with me being the world’s most useless co-pilot…
What to bring
- Walking shoes or rather sandals because its a slippery business down there. (I honestly think you’ll be grateful for the sandals in the scorching heat!)
- Suit up for the rainmaker experience with T-shirts & shorts that will survive some wetness
- Insect repellent
- Swimsuit and a small towel
- A camera
- A bottle of water
Watch your steps: the terrain can be slippery and hazardous. - Be cautious of snakes! Yes, there are apparently snakes. We saw the signs, not the snakes!
- Do not touch any wildlife! Animals, insects, amphibians, … whatever should be left alone and untouched! If you are still tempted to poke another breathing being, then remember this: some frogs are poisonous!
- And for crying out loud, do not litter the forest with empty plastic bottles, handkerchiefs or other funny items. Respect the nature, be an authentic eco-tourist!
Read as well:
How to plan your road trip in Costa Rica
Costa Rica road trip leg #1: Manuel Antonio National Park
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