Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rainmaker Conservation Project…..A Model of Costa Rica Sustainable Tourism

Conveniently located close to Costa Rica Hotels along the Central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, the Rainmaker Conservation Project covers an ecologically diverse area of approximately 1500 acres. This important nature reserve, of which 80% is primary forest, is less than 30 minutes drive from local Manuel Antonio Lodging and Quepos Hotels, making it a convenient location for visitors to immerse themselves in the wonders of a true rainforest environment. Consisting of a transitional neotropical jungle ranging from humid rainforest to a misty cloud forest at its higher elevations, Rainmaker is completely dedicated to conserving the rainforest, as well as endangered species found within its boundaries. Their mission is to promote highly controlled sustainable development as a means to finance the ongoing protection of this unblemished area, while creating local employment, educational programs and the continued study of flora and fauna for scientific research. Less than 5% of the Rainmaker project is used for tourist activities, making the one-mile trail and bridge system available to a limited number of visitors, guaranteeing minimum impact on the environment. The well-tended trails, hand railings, bridges and lookout points have been designed to assure the safety, comfort and enjoyment of adventurous visitors, while leaving the surrounding jungle terrain as Mother Nature intended.

Rainmaker History:
Previously owned by a local rice farmer, Rainmaker was in danger of being clear-cut and commercially developed. Due to a failing rice crop suffered after a severe drought, the indebted farmer was forced to sell his mountain paradise to support his family. Having struggled for years to preserve his majestic piece of property, rather than accept the highest offer, the farmer contacted a friend with whom he held a similar vision for the protection of this beautiful piece of land. In came Mauricio Gutierrez, who with the help of a business partner began the process of purchasing Rainmaker mountain. Sadly, only a few days before signing the final papers, Mauricio drowned while attempting to save a child who had fallen into one of the waterfalls. This tragic event left the purchase of the property in serious jeopardy. With a logging companies ready to step in, the future of Rainmaker was looking bleak. Arriving in Costa Rica for the funeral of their beloved husband and father, Ann Gutierrez and her two children, Alessandra and Mauricio Jr., all deeply aware of Mauricio’s desire to save this land, worked tirelessly to purchase and preserve the mountain in his honor. On August 13, 1993, thanks to the generous help of “The Body Shop”, the deposit was paid and a new future was set in motion for the beautiful Rainmaker Conservation Project. Since purchasing Rainmaker, the family has stayed true to Mauricio’s dream, though land title disputes, managerial usurpation lawsuits, species theft and other daunting challenges have certainly tested this family along the way. With support from visitors, the family continues to protect the mountain, preserving and maintaining its natural integrity, all in memory of their beloved Mauricio.

Sustainability & Species Protection:
Dedicated to becoming a leading conservation project in the preservation and betterment of local rainforest communities, the Rainmaker project makes every effort to hire local community members as staff. Actively supporting the area teachers and schools, Rainmaker has been directly responsible in providing badly needed school supplies, as well as providing regular outdoor educational classes. The future of the rainforest depends on educating the next generation, so their work is of utmost importance. According to a study published by J. Alan Pounds in 2006, he suggested that many colorful Harlequin Frog Species (Atelopus) across Central and South America have disappeared due to deadly infectious diseases spurred by changing water and air temperatures likely a direct cause of Global Warming. At one time the colorful Harlequin Frog (actually a toad) was thought to be extinct, but much to everyone’s surprise, in 2003 the Harlequin Frog was rediscovered in the primary rain forest of the Rainmaker Reserve, once again emphasizing the importance of this extensive conservation project. To make a donation click here --->

Nature Tours and Excursions:
A well designed system of trails follow the contours of the Río Seco river corridor, intersected by wooden bridges that allow visitors to safely traverse the jungle and enjoy excellent views of the natural scenery, without requiring intense physical effort. Along the trails visitors can generally find a variety of Reptiles, Poison Dart Frogs (dendrobates auratus), colorful Butterflies (morpho amotonte and others), Jesus Christ Lizards with their unique ability to walk on water (baciliscus), as well as colorful Bird Species such as Toucans and Trogons, just to name a few of the natural wonders to be seen. These trails connect to an extensive system of bridges suspended from hefty tree bases and all built to U.S. safety bridge engineering codes. The height of these bridges extend from 30 to 180 feet (some 22 stories high!), with a total expansion of 820 feet, distributed between six bridges; with the longest section stretching over 300 feet. The first platform starts at ground level, and as the slope drops, the bridge becomes higher, giving visitors unobstructed views of an incredible variety of flora and fauna amongst the diverse canopy eco-system. Several waterfalls, one of which is utilized as a natural swimming pool, afford visitors exceptional opportunities to capture breathtaking photographs throughout their hike.

River Walk and Canopy Bridge Tour:
Visitors traverse the trail system, arriving to the Canopy Bridge section of the reserve. Built to U.S. engineering standards, the suspension bridges have six sections, creating one of the most impressive Canopy Walks in Costa Rica. The careful design permits minimal forest impact, while giving participants a unique opportunity to explore the majesty of the forest canopy from a bird's eye view in a safe and controlled environment.
Tour includes: Round trip transportation from Quepos & Manuel Antonio, a variety of typical fruits and juices for breakfast and/or a typical Costa Rican lunch following the tour. All tours are led by an accredited bilingual nature guide. Hiking shoes, bathing suit, binoculars, and water resistant cameras are recommended.

Amphibians and Reptile Night Tour: 7pm- 9pm
After dusk our expert bilingual guide will introduce you to the wonderful world that takes place after dark. You will be able to observe the very active amphibians and reptiles located on the property that prefer to come out at night. Guides will take you along the frog habitat lake, followed by a unique hike into the rainforest.
Tour includes: Transportation from Manuel Antonio & Quepos, bilingual nature guide, headlamps, drinks and snacks. Long pants and hiking boots, and a sense of adventure are recommended.

Birdwatching Morning Tour: 5:30am – 9:30am
This tour begins at dawn when the majority of tropical birds are most active. Walking around the Rainmaker property, visitors will enjoy the in-depth information provided by their trained nature guide as they learn about the abundant splendor of the native birds all in a relaxed and quiet environment.
Tour includes: Round trip transportation from Quepos & Manuel Antonio, trained bilingual nature guide, a variety of typical fruits and juices for breakfast, along with the popular Rainmaker Costa Rica coffee after the tour. Walking shoes, binoculars and cameras are recommended.

Volunteer Service:
Adventurous volunteers have the opportunity to participate for two weeks to one month periods in one of the four departments needed to run and preserve the Rainmaker Conservation Project. Consisting of areas of Maintenance, Landscaping, Food Preparation and Scientific Study, Volunteers will also have the opportunity to work with the local schools as well as various community outreach programs sanctioned by the Rainmaker Foundation. For more information click here.

Arrival from San Jose:
Rainmaker is easily accessed by the main coastal road (the Costanera Hwy) on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica from the capital city of San Jose. Follow the road signs departing San Jose, for Jaco, then on to the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area. Continuing past the town of Parrita, turn left approximately 10 kilometers past that town. A large Rainmaker road sign is visible. Follow the signs through the Village of San Rafael Norte to the entrance, some seven kilometers.

Arrival from Quepos/Manuel Antonio:
Follow the main highway towards San Jose. A large Rainmaker sign is visable just after the town of Paquita/Pocares. Turn right and follow signs to the entrance of Rainmaker through the Village of San Rafael Norte. Rainmaker is approximately 22 kilometers from the center of Quepos town.

For Further Press Stories on Rainmaker Click Here!

For more information:
Call us in the US: (540) 349-9848
Or in Costa Rica: (506) 2777-3565

Author: Kimberly Barron, originally from Malibu, California has lived in Parismina and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica for 20 years. Starting as a certified tour guide, she spent 15 years managing fishing lodges on the Caribbean Coast and later 4* & 5* Hotels on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Currently semi-retired, Kimberly still works as the Marketing Director for Byblos Resort & Casino and Hotel Makanda by the Sea.


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