Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest has developed as an ambitious project proudly owned and operated by a group of ten determined local families. Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest are pioneers in ecotourism in the Northern Region of Costa Rica (in the zone of Bijagua Upala between Volcan Tenorio and Miravalles).
In 1985 the land that Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest now stands was assigned for deforestation and land distribution by IDA (Instituto de Desarrollo Agrario) in order to distribute land to families in need.
A group of twenty three local families came together to protect the land from deforestation and formed a community association called ABIPA (Asociación Bijagueña de Productores Agrícolas). With determination and commitment ABIPA was successful and stopped the imminent deforestation of 73 hectares (about 175 acres) of primary rainforest in1991. IDA assigned the land to ABIPA as a new model of conservation in Costa Rica whereby rainforest is protected in private reserves and managed by local communities.
ABIPA received the support of several national and international organizations to create a private reserve and develop an eco-tourism project.
ABIPA has strong values committed to sustainable community development. They want their project to encourage other people in the area to develop incomes from other means than agriculture.
The objectives of ABIPA are to conserve the incredible biodiversity in the reserve, improve the quality of life for the members of ABIPA and the local community and to increase environmental education and awareness for conservation in the local community and further a field.
The income generated from the lodge helps supports many small businesses in Bijagua, including local farmers who produce vegetables, meat and dairy products, the local supermarkets, hardware shops and taxis.
Achievements of ABIPA
• Raising the profile and importance of conservation in the community.
• Supporting the local community by providing employment and business development.
• Opening the door for tourism to develop in Bijagua.
• Facilitating tourism to Rio Celeste and the Tenorio Volcano National Park.
• Working with many Costa Rican and international organizations.
• Inspiring members of the local community and tourists in regards to conservation and protection.
Your visit to the Heliconias Rainforest and Lodge will contribute in the development of our ecotourism and conservation projects, and at the same time, it will help the socioeconomic development of Bijagua. Your tourist dollar stays in and supports our local community!
Come and experience Eco-tourism at its finest!
• Construction materials for many buildings are recycled and have been sourced locally.
• Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest actively engages in recycling tourist and internal waste.
• Tourists are encouraged to offset their carbon emissions by plating trees with the local youth cooperative COOPEJUBI.
• The private reserve is managed and maintained to ensure no hunting or tree felling takes place.
• Sustainability (social, economic and environmental) guides all management decisions.
• Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest has connections with the National Institute of Biodiversity (InBio), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), The Volcano Miravalles and Tenorio Biological Corridor (FUNDESTEMI), Arenal Conservation Area (ACA) and Tenorio Volcano National Park.
• Members of COOPRENA
COOPRENA – National Ecotourism Network Cooperative
Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest is a member of COOPRENA (Cooperativo Red Ecoturística Nacional). COOPRENA is a cooperative focused on promoting rural tourism in Costa Rica. It adheres to sustainable development principles of communities and the environment. Nineteen rural lodges and cooperatives are members of COOPRENA to find out more visit www.turismoruralcr.com
If you are interested in volunteering on a project or donating to Heliconias Lodge and Rainforest please see our Volunteering page.