In the Barra Honda National Park they are convinced that a protected area can also be a model for community development; And that is why, from there, a new tourist route was created that offers visitors a natural and cultural experience, while contributing to the local economic reactivation.
Dorian Méndez, Administrator of the Barra Honda National Park, explained that the project was born from the concern of the park staff and was consolidated with the support of the Association of Guides and Ecologists of the Barra Honda National Park, the Municipality of Nicoya, micro-entrepreneurs and locals entrepreneurs.
A new conservation model
“Basically this is a new conservation model. We are talking about conservation being more inclusive and less restrictive today. Collaborative systems is basically taking people, community leaders, enterprises and making them part of the processes to generate and socialize ecosystem benefits. This new form of conservation considers the communities as part of the task and as allies in terms of conservation to generate solutions, based on nature, to socio-economic and socio-environmental problems”, indicated Méndez.
The new route proposes to live the unique experience of the cave complex and the scenic beauty of Barra Honda, in addition to sharing with rural towns one of the 5 Blue Zones of the world, to enjoy the ancestral cuisine of Guanacaste and its cultural richness through experiential experiences.
In this regard, Andrea Carvajal, a member of the Barra Honda National Park Ecological Guides Association, said: “We diversify this tourist offer and not only offer the natural attractions of the Barra Honda National Park, but we also project ourselves to the communities to promote all that part of traditions, customs, beauty and natural wealth, of the Guanacaste peoples. In addition to the experiences of the ventures that are part of our chains”. These tourist experiences include six businesses from three towns that are located in the park’s zone of influence and some are led by older adults.
But what do they include?
“We offer what is the cavern tour within the Barra Honda National Park, the sunrise and sunset tours within the park, taking advantage of its strategic location to see these events and guided walks. We also offer experiences such as the corn workshop, donut workshop, the tanelas workshop; we offer a cultural night, dances and folklore workshop, and a coyol workshop that is temporary, only in the summer season. Finally, a gastronomic workshop where we rescue what is the gastronomy of the communities that represent us: Santa Ana, Barra Honda and El Flor”, explained Carvajal.
The association of guides also collaborates with maintenance activities, environmental education and support in case of forest fire in the park. For the Municipality of Nicoya, the generation of these productive chains from the natural wealth of the canton is very important, and even more so in the context of a pandemic where many people lost their jobs.
“The fact of being able to seek this type of use is extremely important. It is also a way of generating development in the economies of nearby towns and I believe that this is the richness of this experience, being able to visit different enterprises that are managed around the park and how there can be a growth of both organizations; let’s say, the family that has a space, that creates a place that can be a restaurant, or a development in terms of cabins, or that promotes other types of cultural and gastronomic initiatives and how they associate it with the elemental value that the park already has” , assured Carlos Armando Martínez Arias, Mayor of Nicoya.
In this way, the rural community tourism circuit proposes a new conservation model where preservation is reconciled with development and generates well-being in small towns near the park.
The Barra Honda National Park is a protected wild area belonging to the canton of Nicoya and was created in 1974. It conserves the limestone hills of the lower basin of the Tempisque River, it has collaborative systems with the communities, it is one of the aquifer recharge sites of the area and protects the ecosystems of this area. The park opens from Monday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
For more information on the National Park you can contact the number: 2659 1551 or 8721 2444.