Pacuare Lodge is tucked deep within 25,000 acres of pristine, protected Costa Rican rain forest on the banks of the Pacuare River, just north of the Talamanca Mountains. Dense vegetation frames the river and provides shelter for a slew of wildlife including jaguars, monkeys, sloths, and a variety of birds. At a glance, Pacuare Lodge does not stand out from its natural surroundings. Elevated, thatched-roof bungalows blend harmoniously with the lush canopy, while luxury and comfort prevail inside.
Outside, adventure rules this region and it begins even before you arrive at the lodge. The Pacuare River is a premiere white-water rafting destination, and guests get a taste of the fun on the way to the lodge, approaching on a guided raft. Once at the lodge, the excitement is far from over: jungle hikes, canopy tours and canyoneering await. After a long day of exploration, enjoy delightful regional fare around a candlelit table—either by the riverbank or perched 60 feet up in the rain forest’s robust canopy.
Pacuare Lodge was built with minimal environmental impact and maximum local support. In lieu of using Pacuare’s protected trees to build the main lodge and bungalows, farmers who run a reforestation project sourced the lumber. Local Cabécar Indians built the thatched roofs from palm leaves according to their traditional style. Owner Roberto Fernandez hired his first staff member by going to the local village and asking for the best poacher. Twenty years later that former poacher has risen through the ranks to become the lodge’s Canopy Tour Supervisor who builds, maintains, and guides visitors through the treetops course. And nearly all of the lodge staff hails from nearby communities.
With no electricity in the bungalows, the environmental impact of Pacuare Lodge is small, and the idea of being “connected” gets redefined. Without the distractions of technology, guests connect more fully to the rhythms and romance of the rain forest and with their own traveling companions—the candlelit rooms make for a cozy, intimate guest experience.
Inhabiting hard-to-reach parts of the Talamanca Mountains, the indigenous Cabécar people take pride in their ancient traditions. The Zutkia, or shaman, is an important part of the culture, serving as priest, magician, metaphysician, and healer. When you make a reservation through National Geographic Unique Lodges, you’ll have an exclusive chance to meet with the son of a Cabécar shaman to gain personal insights about the culture and daily lives of his people.
In addition to green practices ranging from a hydroelectric turbine system that generates energy to the use of natural building materials and ventilation for their guest rooms, Pacuare Lodge has protected its 840 acres through a conservation agreement and begun to reintroduce howler monkeys to the surrounding forest. The lodge has also partnered with Dr. Eduardo Carrillo, a prominent jaguar expert, to establish a program that researches and monitors jaguars to support their conservation. In the last century alone, these spectacular cats—once common from the southwest United States to northern Argentina—have been eliminated from more than half of their original range as a result of human activity.
The lodge runs environmental education programs at schools in the nearby communities in order to teach responsible practices and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the rain forest and its resources.
National Geographic Traveler World’s Best Ecolodge List, 2013
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