Ready? Yep. Adios. Adioooossss. And away I went on my first zip-line tour. Zip-line tours have exploded in Costa Rica over the past few years. I held off on doing one as I thought they were commercializing the whole rainforest experience a bit. And in the end I feel I was wrong for thinking that as they have the potential to be a great way to see and learn about the forest. They're also a lot of fun.
Hacienda Baru was declared a wildlife refuge in 1995. It's a 330 hectares (815 acre) example of what can happen to land that was once farmed for rice, cattle and pasture if left to regenerate naturally.
Today it's a healthy forest and animals that were once forced to leave have returned, giving this land a renewed sense of value and purpose.
Co-owner and naturalist Jack Ewing is also an author who has written numerous stories about the transformations he has witnessed over his 40 plus years on the property. His book, Monkeys Are Made Of Chocolate, is a fascinating account of how animals, plants and people interact with one another.
Hacienda Baru has proven that deforested land can recover and provide lasting, sustainable employment to the local community. Hacienda Baru employs numerous people from guides to cooks to hotel staff to taxi drivers.
The refuge has an extensive trail system which can either be enjoyed alone or with a guide. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you can afford a guide get one. Their ability to see things we cannot will make your walk a true nature experience. On one of our walks we saw 5 two-toed sloths, numerous exotic birds and more monkeys than we could shake a stick at.
Hacienda Baru offers numerous activities. The zip-line tour is called The Flight Of The Tucan because of the way it imitates the flight of the chestnut-mandibled toucan, as it leaps off a branch, swoops down through the forest and then up in to another tree. On this tour, 8 separate cable rides take you from one ridge top to another, across valleys and streams. There are 14 land based platforms and 1 tree platform with a view of the coast.
Other activities include tree-climbing, night hikes, and bird watching etc. They even have offer a night in the jungle tour. After the hike up to the camp you can sit and relax on the verandah as the sun goes down and listen to the sounds of the jungle as the daytime animals and birds go to bed and the nocturnal ones come to life. There will be no-one else for miles around, as you will be in the heart of the refuge. Large tents and big meals are sure to satisfy.
Guests stay in one of six, large and comfortable cabins that are surrounded by forest and a short 5 minute walk to the beach. In addition to the cabins, Hacienda Barú is now offering six new Pool View Guest Rooms. Each unit has a large bathroom, a porch. Each will normally have a king size bed and a twin bed, but they can be equipped with up to four twin beds. Each has a fridge and coffee maker as well. The attractive tile roofing is made from recycled plastic bags. A well ventilated design, insulation between the roofing and the polished teak ceiling, and overhead fans. All of the teak and melina wood used in the construction came from Hacienda Barú's own plantations. Not a single piece of wood came the natural forest. Solar heaters provide plenty of hot water for the bathrooms. The outside walls are slate and polished teak. The new guest rooms are conveniently located right in front of our new swimming pool.
Hacienda Baru is perfect for families who want to experience the rainforest and all it has to offer without breaking the bank. Don't forget your camera!