Our Commitment to Sustainable Tourism
At the Pacuare Lodge, we are dedicated to sustainable tourism, which means limiting the negative impacts of our operations while supporting conservation and providing benefits for nearby communities. This policy is by no means limited to the Lodge – it extends through our entire company, from the main office to the warehouses where we store our rafts. The following are some of the steps we’ve taken, or are taking to improve our relationship with the environment:
• The Pacuare Lodge was built with a minimum impact on the surrounding forest and river. No trees were cut to accommodate the bungalows and main lodge, which are built of lumber from a reforestation project run by small farmers. The thatch roofs were made by local Cabécar Indians in their traditional style using palm leaves collected in our forest reserve.
• Aventuras Naturales was the first adventure travel company to acquire parcels of primary forest in this area solely for the purpose of conservation Over the years, we’ve purchased 340 hectares (840 acres) of primary rain forest along the Pacuare River for conservation and in order to offset the atmospheric carbon created by our vehicles, which makes our tours carbon-neutral. Some of that forest was in danger of being cleared before we purchased it, but is now strictly protected in order to conserve the flora and fauna that lives there.. Because our goal is preservation of this untouched virgin rainforest, no visitors are allowed into this area.
• The lodge’s bathrooms are equipped with biodegradable soap and shampoo and the water for their showers is solar heated. All the lodge’s wastewater flows into state-of-the-art septic systems to avoid pollution of the nearby river.
• Bungalows are illuminated with lanterns and candles and what little electricity used at the lodge is clean energy generated by a turbine in a nearby stream.
• We use organic products as much as possible in meals served at the lodge and on rafting tours.
• With the help of our guests, we are reforesting former pastures in the Pacuare River watershed with native tree species to offset carbon emissions by our vehicles and to improve the area’s environmental health. As those trees grow, they will absorb tons of atmospheric carbon while providing habitat for an array of wildlife.
• We are helping biologists to study of jaguars in the forests along the Pacuare River by providing them with food, lodging, and logistical support, and by the purchasing digital cameras that researchers place on game trails to photograph those shy animals.
• We are reintroducing howler monkeys, which were wiped out in the area by indigenous hunters years ago, to our forest reserve. We rescued the first troop of 8 monkeys that we reintroduced from an island in a nearby river where they’d become stranded after a flood.
• Our rigorous recycling program extends from the main office to the lodge. At the lodge, we compost organic waste and separate recyclable materials for transport to recycling companies. For lunches served during our Pacuare River trips, we use reusable plates, cups and cutlery rather than the disposable plates and cups used by other rafting companies.
• We are installing a bio-digester to produce gas from organic waste from the Pacuare Lodge’s kitchen. Gas produced will be used for cooking and heating water for bungalows.
• In the company’s laundry, we conserve water and use only biodegradable detergents. All the laundry is rafted out every day to the company`s warehouse, located in the river take out at the Siquirres town.
• We are trying to get the Costa Rican government to award the Pacuare River a Blue Flag, in recognition of its clean environment and we are in the process of obtaining the CST ( Certification for Sustainable Tourism).
Socially Responsible Tourism
Sustainable tourism should improve the lives of local people, and we’ve made donations and initiated projects in the communities nearest to the Pacuare Lodge. Infrastructure in our remote area is sparse and poorly maintained, and there are few employment opportunities, which is why we make a point of hiring local people. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
• All Pacuare Lodge staff is from nearby communities and 95% of our rafting guides are from Turrialba, the closest city to the lodge.
• We donate school supplies and other materials to three primary schools in the communities nearest to the lodge and we accept donations from our guests, transferring them to the schools in their entirety (no administrative fees deducted).
• We are helping an isolated Cabécar Indian community near the lodge to install a potable water system.
• The lunch spot on the Pacuare River the we use on our tours is rented from a Cabécar family, who feed the organic waste to pigs.
• We provide environmental education and explain our sustainable practices to local people, our staff and our guests.
• We purchase food and other goods from local providers and support organic agriculture.