Created for those who would like an authentic Costa Rican cultural experience, this is one of the original tours taking you back in time to explore Santa Juana’s verdant, wet rainforested mountains, silvery waterfalls, natural swimming pools, and small, family operated oxen-driven sugar mill farm. Located inland only one hour away from the beautiful, busy beaches of Manuel Antonio, this tiny village offers a unique opportunity to discover and participate in the typical pastoral lifestyle of present day rural Costa Ricans.
The tour starts in the fresh morning air with transportation provided from Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Guests staying onsite at the Santa Juana Lodge will be met by a friendly bilingual guide at the hotel reception desk. From there you’ll go on an interpretive hike through the jungle for approximately two miles stopping all along the way to observe the many interesting sightings your naturalist guide will point out for you.
While in the rainforest, you’ll cross over rushing rivers or burbling streams depending on the recent weather. When you reach the beautiful cascading waterfall at Rio Rodeo, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the clear natural pools of pristine water fed by three rivers spawned in the surrounding forest.
Here you can also try your hand at fishing for Tilapia. With a catch and release program, this can be a lot of fun for families and fishing enthusiasts alike, using native fishing techniques.
Continuing the adventure, you will arrive at a working sugar mill where you can participate in the traditional milling of sugarcane, still practiced on small family farms. Giant oxen in colorful regalia turn the mill as pure sugarcane juice squeezes out of the stalks pushed by hand into the “trapiche”. From this raw syrup, which you can taste, sugar is produced, one of the largest agricultural crops on the planet. Imagine, making sugar!
You’ll return to Santa Juana Lodge to enjoy a “typical” midday meal consisting of locally prepared beans, rice, meat (or protein choice), chopped salsa, a salad mix, and fried sweet plantains. At times, you may be served freshly made farmer’s cheese.
Throughout the day you’ll be learning age old ways that Costa Ricans practice sustainability, deeply embedded in a culture that values keeping balance in the natural environment. At the Lodge, built from local renewable trees, you’ll visit the Lodge’s tree nursery, each grown and labeled by local employees, supporting both the future of the forest as well as of the community.
Santa Juana Lodge and its tours, including the Santa Juana Rural Mountain Adventure Tour, provide Greentique certification training so that locals can become certified, bilingual naturalist tour guides sharing with pride their handed down wealth of knowledge and deep respect for Nature.
Closed toed hiking shoes are recommended for traversing the forested trails along the sloping mountain sides and you may wish to add a pair of water shoes for swimming. The order of tour activities sometimes changes and during part of the tour you may be transported by four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles.
Transportation from Manuel Antonio and Quepos is included and typically takes about an hour each way. Combined time of adventure tour including hiking, swimming, visiting the sugar mill plus tree farm and lunch, with round trip transportation, can take up to 6 hours. Part of the proceeds from each tour goes to support the community’s conservation and reforestation projects. Each tour participant can take home a Tree Adoption Certificate acknowledging their contribution to the future of the planet.