Naturalist and farmer Donald Varela Soto grew up experiencing Costa Ria the way it was meant to be seen: in solitude and peace, unencumbered by crowds or schedules, with freedom to wander on trails or off. Today, Donald, his family of four, and others from their northern Costa Rican town of Bijagua have created Tapir Valley Nature Reserve so they can share that increasingly rare experience with others and build a community united by a passion for the environment.
Donald and other community members had the opportunity to buy the land from a cattle farmer for conservation 16 years ago – but owning Tapir Valley required extraordinary dedication. There was no road into the site, so reaching the site required a two-hour hike each way. Nonetheless, Donald, who is born and bred in Bijagua and feels a deep commitment to the region’s ecosystems, maintained his commitment and reforested the land with endemic species. When, in 2018, a new paved road made it possible for visitors to reach Tapir Valley from Bijagua in just minutes, Donald and his community created a reception area and carefully designed nature viewing platforms so that Tapir Valley could accommodate naturalists of all ages, rain or shine.
In this extraordinary natural setting that is part of the Tenorio/Miravalles Volcano Biological Corridor, you’ll find a space that’s yours to roam. Let your interests lead the way. Follow fresh tapir tracks that wander into the forest, or let a bird call guide your steps; work up a sweat on a rigorous hike, or while away the hours watching wildlife from one of the carefully designed platforms along the way. Amble from mature rain forest to secondary jungle, from open grassland to a hummingbird garden, from wetland to springs to the Crystal River. Design your day with the help of experienced guides who are ready to share their deep knowledge and passion for northern Costa Rica with you.
Tapir Valley is one-of-a-kind in Costa Rica because of the qualities it brings together. It’s a spectacular private reserve that’s fully owned and managed by community leaders. It offers top-notch customer service and attention to detail without detracting from the wild, untouched quality of the 220-hectare private rainforest reserve. It’s a business that prioritizes the quality of your experience over the volume of visitors, restricting entry to ensure that you experience Tapir Valley in its full, peaceful glory.
Where should I stay in the area?
A visit to Tapir Valley fits beautifully into a stay at nearby Casitas Tenorio B&B, which holds the title of Costa Rica’s best B&B on TripAdvisor. Continue your birdwatching over a hearty local breakfast overlooking the rainforest, from the trail that wends its way through the farm and forest, or from the secluded balcony of your cabin, tucked amongst the trees. Connect with authentic rural Costa Rican living on this working farm and learn more about Donald and Pip, who have created both Casitas and Tapir Valley to share their love for the area with the world. Book a tour at Tapir Valley and receive 15% off on your stay at Casitas Tenorio B&B!
Why should I pay money to do a tour?
Hiring a local guide during your visit to Tapir Valley supports the work of Bijagua naturalists while providing you with deeper insight into the area. Our guides share a profound knowledge of local history, geography and culture; through years on the trail, they have developed the skills of call birds, identify wildlife and plants you might otherwise miss, and pick up on the subtle traces of elusive species such as the Baird’s Tapir. Working with a guide is an incredible opportunity to discover the rainforest as you contribute to a small independent business that has made conservation its mission.