Easy Costa Rica

Hacienda la Pacifica
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Lying in the plains of Guanacaste, against a magnificent backdrop of mountains, the Hacienda La Pacifica represents a true ecological destination. In a country renowned for its environmental commitment, a reputation that has spilled over into the tourist industry, it's inevitable that some exploitations of the concept have taken take place. At one so called"eco-adventure" tourist lodge we visited, the only "adventuring" being done was shooting pool and imbibing liquor. Conversely, places like Monteverde Biological Reserve enjoy a well deserved worldwide reputation. La Pacifica is similarly authentic, committed to the preservation of native species and the development of environmentally sound agricultural practices.

Hidden in the countryside, unknown and bypassed by many, the Hacienda is a combination ranch, dairy farm, research center, and low-impact resort. Here a family can easily experience Costa Rica's outdoors and many of its natural wonders, while gaining a sense of how a developing country confronts the dual needs of economic development and environmental commitment. While many national parks still remain difficult to reach and minimally serviced, La Pacifica offers the ideal combination of outdoor activities, ecological focus, and comfortable accommodations. Everything about the place is wonderful. There's a large dairy herd, irrigated fields, experimental agriculture, and research center. Various nature studies are conducted by outside sources each year, using the Hacienda as their base. Even the resort makes an effort to maintain the environmental focus. Guests find their rooms stocked with natural soaps and shampoos.

Located two hours north of San Jose, beside the Interamerican Highway, La Pacifica is easy to reach on the Liberia bus. Despite its proximity to the so-called highway, the atmosphere is quiet and rural, the highway little more than a two-lane road with light traffic. Set in the semi-arid region of inland Guanacaste, La Pacifica appears like an oasis of greenery, its lush fields and woods in marked contrast to the surrounding wind-swept plains. Once the summer retreat of a Costa Rican president and named for his wife, the Hacienda became the property of a Swiss immigrant family. Environmentally committed, they gave the hacienda its present focus, although the property is now owned by a corporation.

There's a bit of everything here for the adventuring family: the lovely, small resort set beside a river and sheep farm (children will love "helping" on the farm), with bungalows, a swimming pool, and abundant trees and flowers; hiking or bicycle riding (rentals available) along dirt roads through the Hacienda's 4,000 acres; nature or birdwatching walks (guided or otherwise) along riverside trails through lush, tropical growth frequented by birds and howler monkeys; guided raft trips on the Rincon River; day bike rides into the surrounding countryside (transportation uphill is provided—all you have to do is bike back down hill to the Hacienda). There's a lovely, quiet restaurant, an informed staff, daily maid service, and a library with English language books (including some for children). With its large dairy herd, morning milkings provide a fun outing for children. Accommodations are in small bungalows with porches, set under shady trees. Weekly rates are lowest, as is off-season travel.

Although prices here are slightly higher than many budget destinations, it's worth every penny. The whole place is bliss for families with a love of the outdoors. If traveling on a shoestring budget consider doing your own meals at your bungalow with a camp stove. Nearby Canas has an excellent market with very affordable food. Another option is to camp for free beside the Rincon Restaurant, adjacent to and affiliated with La Pacifica. We did a combination of both, camping first for a few days, then basking in the luxury of a bungalow for a week.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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