The big trip

Trip of the week: at home on a ranch in Costa Rica

Hacienda Montezuma aims to give visitors a taste of ‘traditional Costa Rican country living’

There can be few better ways for children to “get in touch with the living world” than a visit to Hacienda Montezuma, says Lydia Bell in Condé Nast Traveller. This country estate in Costa Rica started taking guests seven years ago, and its recent shift from traditional ranching to sustainable cattle farming offers a lesson in “the power of conservation”.

Its owners, the Acosta family, aim to give their visitors a taste of “traditional Costa Rican country living” – which means the chance to participate in the life of the family and the finca. You can choose between two casas on the farm, both of which are the Acostas’ own homes, and daily activities range from riding and fishing to helping to tag endangered tapirs.

The farm lies in the northern province of Guanacaste, and its 3,700 acres straddle the continental divide, attracting both Caribbean and Pacific birds, from trogons and oropendolas to six kinds of toucan. Indeed, its rainforest species read “like a Who’s Who of Costa Rican wildlife”, including jaguars, pumas, armadillos, sloths and plenty of monkeys.

Bird-watching expeditions and rainforest walks are led by an expert biologist, but for equine adventures, the estate offers a different kind of guide. The image of the sabanero, or cowboy, is much the same here as in the American west, and looms equally large in the local culture. Those at Hacienda Montezuma will take you hacking and – if you’re a good enough rider – they will even let you help muster cattle.

On other days, you might harvest malanga from the vegetable garden, visit a nearby rescue centre to meet recent arrivals (ocelots and the like), or laze by a lake, swimming and picnicking. And in the evenings, the riches of the farm and neighbouring estates (including cacao for mousses and ice creams) are put to use in kitchen suppers and “firepit feasts”. 

Plan South America (plansouthamerica.com) has one week from £5,517 per person, excluding flights.

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