A place that protects a turquoise treasure and fertile lands, you can find friendly and hardworking people, dreamy landscapes and hope for the next generations: Guatuso!
After driving about 3 hours from San José, we arrived to Guatuso, this village belongs to the province of Alajuela, we were amazed to find this place, where it seems that time passes very slowly, in the middle of the rain forest that transmits a peace that is only found in remote places on this planet. Surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, we were greeted by a landscape tinged with shades of green and the smell of pure nature.
On the way to the hotel we visited the farmer’s market, it was Sunday morning, we stopped to see a bit of the products of the area. Locals told us that they live mainly from agriculture, its lands here rich in minerals, make it a suitable place for the production of pineapple, cocoa, banana, sugar cane, tubers and varieties of medicinal plants such as Anizillo.
Guatuso also takes part of The Tenorio Volcano National Park, it is the richest protected biodiversity area of the Arenal Tempisque Conservation zone, due to its biophysical characteristic it has the potential to develop different activities such as socio-environmental, eco-tourism and sustainable development.
Originally, we were attracted to this village just to visit the national park, but after interacting with the locals and visiting their family-run small business and hearing several recommendations about things to do, we realized that this area is much more than visiting Río Celeste, here you can see the true culture of the town, its lifestyle, gastronomy and abundant nature. We decided to stay a few days more, it was worth it totally.
They told us that the Maléku Indigenous Reserve is located also in Guatuso, where around 600 natives of the Maléku ethnic group reside, one of the 8 aboriginal ethnic groups of Costa Rica and the only one that subsists in the northern zone of the country. The Malékus still preserve their own language and customs to this day. We wanted to visit them but it was required to send a notice in advance in order to be received by their community. It has been added to our bucket list.
About Guatuso Village
In terms of flora and fauna you can find several species, the guide showed us a high diversity of palms, heliconias, ferns, bromeliads and orchids, trees such as the Aguacatillos, Zapotes and the Jícaro Danto, (Parmentiera valerii) which is endemic to the Cordillera de Guanacaste and is characterized by having flowers and fruits attached to the trunk and is one of the main diets of the Danta (Tapir).
Our guide told us that in the national park we can still find the Puma (Felis concolor), two types of small Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis and Leopardus wiedii) although it is very difficult to see them, and that it is more common to see species such as the Danta (Tapirus bairdii), Guatuza (Dasyprocta punctata) related to the name of the village, the Collared Peccary (Tajacu pecari), the White-headed Capucine monkey (Cebus capucinus), the Lowland Paca (Agouti paca), the Tayra (Eira barbara), the crested guan (Penelope purpurarcens), the bare-necked umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricolis), the sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) and snakes.
Guatuso is still a non touristy destination, there are not too many restaurants or hotels so we spent quality time learning about their culture, we took cooking workshops with locals and visited their farms.
Most tourist just visit the park and continue with their journey to another destination, but we found the real magic of this place by staying longer and walking around, we met very nice and charming people like Casta, she and her family have a few wooden cabins for rent, a small restaurant where she cooks with a wood stove many delicious local recipes that she prepares from their farm, like vegetables and spices, they also have their own grazing hens.
Then we met Will the cowboy, he took us for a horseback ride tour to the sugar mill which is a family-run business, his mother and wife are the chefs who taught us to prepare prestiños, tortillas and a delicious sugarcane hot infusion mixed with ginger, the perfect combination for a rainy afternoon.
In the area there are two hotels whose motto of sustainability, conservation and support to the development of the community, made them our best choices to visit.
Celeste Mountain Lodge
The Celeste Mountain Lodge sits on a 3 hectares green area and 4 hectares of protected primary rainforest. Because neighboring properties also consist of protected areas, deep jungles surround the lodge on 3 sides.
The lodge boasts a very innovative, contemporary design, altering traditional parameters in hotel architecture, opening walls and spaces, blending the different areas and inviting the beauty of the surroundings right inside the building.
The Celeste Mountain Lodge is proud to adhere to a philosophy of sustainable tourism, with low environment impact and eco-friendly practices, innovating in some new ones, as well as a commitment for the development of the local community. (read more Link)
You will find a beautiful balcony at the dinning room, with and amazing view of the mountains! You will also see a variety of birds that come to eat fruits just right in front of the balcony.
Downstairs there is a chill out area, where you can sit to read, play table games or just have your favorite drink and enjoy the sound of nature.
In this lodge they practice the believe that good eating must be part of an enriching travel experience.Therefore they include all 3 meals in their rates. Great value for your money!
They take pride in the Tico Fusion Cuisine, inspired from traditional recipes of the country or in a delicate blend of local ingredients and flavors, with our own touch!
You will find the owners always taking care of each detail, they like to help serving the meals and explaining each dish, ingredients and food preparation. The service is personalized and charming.
Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel
Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel is a small resort nestle in the same rainforest of the Volcán Tenorio National Park. The property is surrounded by nature and exotic animals such as hummingbirds and coatis. The hotel offers very spacious casitas all separated from each other by beautiful natural gardens. The room offers a king bed, a very comfortable sitting area with a forest or garden view, a desk, a huge bathroom with double vanities, a gorgeous shower with stone walls, and the most refreshing outdoor shower surrounded by tropical plants. One of the best parts of this room is the balcony, made out of wood, is the perfect place to sit and enjoy the beautiful view.
They offer an entertainment area with a pool table and couches to sit and play board games, or just enjoy some TV. The paths to the bungalows are made of grey river stone and are surrounded by the tropical gardens.
surrounded by 3 hot tubs and a wet bar, this is the perfect place to enjoy your favorite snacks, drinks and cocktails while working on your tan.
At night you can enjoy your after-hour drinks in the cozy Cantina Delirio, located also in the main building.
Kantala Restaurant in the main building is an incredible open-air dining room surrounded by beautiful tropical vegetation and a very relaxing pond filled with Koi. In here you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu offers an international gourmet cuisine, from entrees to main dishes and desserts. You will find dishes with meat, chicken, seafood and pasta.
You will find friendly and helpful staff with great attention to detail, always available for anything you need.
Activities in Guatuso
(Tenorio National Park and surroundings)
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