Lonely Planet Writer

Indigenous tour guides in Costa Rica open their own agency for ecological and cultural tours


Costa Rica’s tourism industry has long been at the forefront of Central America’s travel infrastructure, offering visitors access to everything from rainforest adventures, to sea turtle sightings, to exceptional point breaks.

Bahia Drake (Drakes Bay), Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Bahia Drake (Drakes Bay), Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica Image by Lonely Planet

Few visitors, however, end up learning much about the indigenous culture in Costa Rica, and a group of Bribri tour guides is looking to change that. The idea for the tour agency began as an initiative of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology, designed to diversify income options for local indigenous citizens; 16 Bribri individuals received guide-training at the university’s School of Sustainable Rural Tourism, and obtained accreditation from the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT). Some participants are also taking English lessons, so that they may lead tour groups in multiple languages.

The initiative will be based in Talamanca, and will be the first indigenous tourism organisation in Costa Rica. Guides will specialise in cultural and ecological tourism, and they hope to offer 12 different tours that exhibit the Talamanca region and Bribri traditions and history. The tours will average $40 per person and most are partial-day excursions. The agency has passed an initial inspection required to gain a licensed status, and will undergo one more; it is expected to open in April 2017. Currently, some participants are offering individual trips.

To learn more about the Association of Indigenous Bribri Tour Guides of Talamanca, visit their website.