Centro Neotrópico Sarapiquís
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This facility (tel. 506/2761-1004, www.sarapiquis.org, $5 garden only, $14 museum only, $20 entire facility), on the banks of Río Sarapiquí about one kilometer north of La Virgen, is sponsored by the Belgian nonprofit Landscape Foundation and serves as a scientific research and educational center.
The Museum of Indigenous Culture (9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), with more than 400 pre-Columbian artifacts and a 60-seat movie theater, is a focal point of the center. There’s an archaeological dig—Alma Alta Archaeological Park—of four indigenous tombs dating 800 B.C.–A.D. 155, plus a reconstruction of an Indian village.
A farm grows fruits and vegetables based on ecological farming practices. There’s an astronomical observatory and you can wander the trails though Chester’s Field Botanical Garden, with about 500 native species.
A 250-meter-long canopied bridge leads across the river gorge and into the Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve (tel. 506/2761-0333, www.tirimbina.org, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. daily), an adjoining property that has eight kilometers of trails, with suspension bridges and a 110-meter canopy walkway. A museum portrays life in the forest.
Nature walks cost $15 self-guided, $22 guided, and there’s also a World of Bats night walk ($19), a chocolate tour ($20), and bird-watching ($24) and frog tours ($22). Students and children get discounts.
Tirimbina hosts researchers and offers accommodations, from bunk rooms to private air-conditioned rooms. It has its own entrance from the road, adjoining the Centro.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition