Costa RicaCosta Rica

Cabecar Reservation

Quick Facts

  • Location : Talamanca Mountains
  • Altitude : 350 feet above sea level
  • Hours : By reservation only
  • Telephone : 2248-9470/22907514

Centuries'old traditions still thrive on the Talamanca Cabecar Reservation, Costa Rica's largest indigenous group: the Cabecar. Living in communal homes built from dried cane, Cabecar people practice the use of medicinal plants and sustainable agriculture growing the maize, bananas, rice and beans that make up their diet.

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Part of La Amistad International Park, the reservation is located just miles off the Caribbean coast, but is a world unto itself. Of all Costa Rican indigenous communities, the Cabecar are considered one of the most traditional. While other native languages are disappearing from Costa Rican tribes, the Cabecar language remains the group's mother tongue and only 50 percent of the population speaks Spanish.

In an effort to preserve their heritage, the Cabecar have opened their doors to ecotourism. Some tours begin in Amubri, a town five miles west of Bratsi. Guides lead you over the reservation's border, and introduce you to the Cabecar way of life. Hike through dense forest, discover how to weave a cane hut's intricate thatched roof and learn which of nature's plants are good for nausea, headache and other common maladies.

Other tours depart from San Jose via Turrialba and include whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River, camping and an overnight visit with a Cabecar community. Tours are available by reservation only. It is not possible to arrive at the reservation's border and pay an entrance fee to explore on your own. Most Cabecar communities also have a small selection of handcrafted souvenirs for sale.

Getting There

To visit the Cabecar Reservation, book a tour leaving from Limon, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, or San Jose. You can not drive to the reservation on your own, as there is no park ranger or other official to approve entrance.

Cabecar Reservation in Pictures

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