Sustainable tourism is thriving in Costa Rica. And none are more authentic than the day-long tour of the indigenous Kèköldi territory.
This adventure through the Talamanca region will show you a self-sufficient traditional society thriving in the modern age: maintaining ancient traditions through sustainable, organic agriculture.
The Bribri, Cabecar and Kèköldi people believe that God - Sibö - created them from two kernels of corn, divided geographically by a great river, but united at heart. According to tradition, Sibö gave them knowledge, a scientific and spiritual wisdom called Siwa.
Conveyed from generation to generation by way of stories, legends, and traditional practices, Siwa is based on the core belief that all Bribri are guardians and protectors of the Talamanca and all its natural diversity.
Sloth in a noni tree — Photo courtesy of Sophia LaMonica
This deep commitment to the conservation of their native rainforests has urged the the Bribri, Cabecar and Kèköldi communities to activism.
In the face of environmental damage from development and drilling, they're doing everything they can to educate others about the importance of protecting all of Sibö's gifts.
Through eco-tourism initiatives, the indigenous people of Costa Rica offer opportunities to walk into their secluded enclaves and come away with a greater understanding of la pura vida.
Guanábana — Photo courtesy of Malcolm Manners
Bribri shamans, Awa, draw upon the multitude of medicinal plants and flowers in this fertile rainforest. For healing and improving health, they invoke Siwa to apply nature's most potent medicinal powers.
Alongside the staples of cacao, corn, and bananas, pejibaye (peach palm), yucca, noni, guanabana (sour sop) and many organically cultivated superfruits are grown and harvested here.
Green Iguanas in the elements — Photo courtesy of Life & Culture Adventures, Etnotourismo Talamanca
When they saw the population of green iguanas dwindling towards extinction, the Kèköldi community created a program to protect and breed these majestic reptiles in the wild.
Today, the iguana verde population is thriving and they're no longer considered endangered.
La Cangreja Falls — Photo courtesy of ACTUAR
Together, the Bribri, Cabecar and Kèköldi communities make up the Talamanca Indigenous Reserve, which was officially recognized by the Costa Rican government in 1977.
Recent DNA research suggests that modern-day Bribri, Cabecar and Kèköldi are related to some of the first people to populate the Americas, along with other tribes of the Chibchan language group that lie along the Isthmus of Panama.
These communities lie within La Amistad Talamanca Biological Corridor, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the southeastern most corner of the Limón province.
Raptor — Photo courtesy of Don McCullough
Walking up to the highest waterfall in the Talamanca, you'll follow your guide into the primary and secondary forests and encounter a special birdwatching tower.
The Kèköldi community encompasses one of four “million-raptor migration” observation sites in the world. Thousands of migrating raptors fly overhead every autumn as they head south.
To Kèköldi, the migrating raptors are dancing gods, carriers who scatter the seeds of trees and to whom they attribute their thriving forests.
Book this full-day tour at Life & Culture Adventures, Etnotourismo Talamanca in Playa Chiquita, 3 kilometers south of Puerto Viejo de Limon, by calling 506 27502129, or online at Life & Culture Adventurs. Rates are approximately $55 per person and include a delicious traditional homemade lunch.