For those who want to enjoy the real ecotourism in Costa Rica, Sarapiquí offers great natural attractions, where you can learn more about its nature, flora and fauna. By visiting its rainforest areas, rivers and tourism attractions you help its community, that work together with several private organizations to keep a sustainable and responsible tourism.
Although its greatest extent is in the northern plains of our country to the south and west, the canton of Sarapiquí shows a mountainous topography, hosting the hill slopes of the Cordillera Central and some of its foothills. From the lowlands to the highlands the relief rises in large terraces, which are very fertile.
Geologically consists mainly of materials of Tertiary and Quaternary periods, with Quaternary volcanic rocks that dominate the region. It has two geomorphic units, called Alluvial sedimentation and volcanic origin.
The river system of this canton is for the U-North Slope of the Caribbean slope, to which belong the Sarapiquí River basins, and Cureña Chirripó.
In Sarapiquí the predominant vegetation consists of forests, pastures, reforestation, charrales, tacotales, annual and perennial crops, among which are bananas, coffee, fruit species and more recently pineapple. There are countless varieties of reptiles, birds, mammals and insects.
The Weather: Sarapiqui is located in the torrid zone, therefore, it has a tropical climate with dry and rainy season. Winter is from May to January or February and the dry season from March to May, with some sporadic rainfall caused by cold fronts from the north. Towards the mountains, with altitudes averaging and exceed 187m above the sea, the climate tends to be mild, generality accompanied by a pleasant breeze keeping you cool. In the middle areas, close to 68m above the sea, the temperature rises, and continues toward the lower parts, the Plains of the Atlantic, with an altitude of about 37m above the sea.
The average temperature is 26 to 28 º C, relative humidity of 80-90% and solar radiation of 3 to 5 hours daily, a full hot and humid place that can be traveled through a vast network of nature trails within of its many protected areas, its forests, its wetlands, and so on, which are of great importance for the conservation of flora and fauna.
To get there:
From San José downtown, take the road # 32 which is the same road to Guápiles and Limón.
The Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) is located in the northern Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica and serves many of the communities between the towns of Puerto Viejo (de Sarapiqui) and La Virgen. Our mission is to “link communities and conservation through education and ecotourism”. SCLC is managed by an international board of directors and represented locally by an Executive Director, a receptionist, and an international group of volunteers.
SCLC, offers many programs designed to benefit the local communities and the ecotourists alike. For the visiting tourist wanting a taste of Costa Rica beyond the usual tour stops, SCLC offers local cuisine cooking classes and traditional dance classes. One can also visit a local farm and witness this essential part of life in the Sarapiqui region. For the ecotourist that really wants to step out of their comfort zone, we offer a very popular ‘home-stay’ program that allows the tourist to spend the day (and a night) with a local ‘tico’ family. There is no better way to experience Costa Rica than to live as a ‘tico’, even if it is for only just one day.
In addition to the programs and activities aimed at the ecotourist, SCLC has many programs tailored to help the community (help itself). To this end, SCLC offers the local community 5 levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. As the tourism industry in the area grows, the need for English in this zone will grow along with it and SCLC hopes that our students lead the way. Along with the popular English program, we also conduct environmentally themed classes at 4 of the local area schools. This program gives SCLC direct access to the residents and aims to educate them on the benefits of conservation and living in an environmentally friendly way. Although these 2 programs are very important to the mission of SCLC, we offer so much more.
SCLC also has a growing After School Program (ASP) that gives students from a local school an outlet to explore science, conservation, and ecology. For the aspiring field guides in the region, we have a Bird Club (Club de Aves) that meets every other Saturday with the goal of educating the students in the wealth of bird species that also call the Sarapiqui area home. We are also very proud of our Scholarship (Becados) program. Although public education in Costa Rica is free, many families in this region have financial difficulties and the Becados program helps with funds to be used for uniforms, books, traveling (to school), etc... In exchange for these funds, our scholarship students must maintain high grades, write their sponsors, and participate in various environmental educational activities.
SCLC´s goal is help our community help itself through increased knowledge of the environment, land conservation, English, and the tourism trade. We truly hope and believe that as the area becomes more popular with the casual tourist as well as the ecotourist, our students will be ready and able to support the growth.
Together, you and the SCLC will be helping to fashion a greener future for the Sarapiqui region. Please come by if you are ever in the area...or better yet, make plans to visit our area and stop on in.
Written by: Aaron Simon, SCLC Volunteer