For more than 20 years, Cesar Selles and his mom have guided tourists into Costa Rica’s Yorkin Indigenous Reserve. And while they work with up to 40 different families to give tourists a look into how the lives of the Bribri indigenous group, the tours have only hosted a select number of visitors. Starting in 2017, the indigenous Bribri group hopes to make its land an eco-tourist destination.
Since the late 1980s, Costa Rica has built up a reputation as a destination for ecotourism. With 2.66 million tourists visiting the Central American country in 2015, Costa Rica’s tourism industry has continued to steadily grow in the last three decades. And while Costa Rica offers a wide range of activities for travelers and brings work (indirectly and directly) to some 600,000 people, it hasn’t always been accommodating of indigenous populations. According to the Tico Times, a group of Bribri people is on track to open Costa Rica’s first indigenous tour agency – Talamanca Bribri Tour Guide Association (AGITUBRIT).
Based in Talamanca, the agency wants to give tourists a first-hand look at the Bribri indigenous group’s customs. “We want to promote a form of tourism that is respectful and harmonious with nature, and we wants tourists to get to know our culture and our worldview,” said Melissa Espinoza, president of AGTUBRIT.
The idea sprang from a 2014 Costa Rica Institute of Technology (TEC) initiative that looked to give indigenous peoples different streams of income. Through TEC, 16 people earned their tour guide licenses, and became specialists in ecological and cultural tourism. The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) helped them take the steps to register its business. The Bribri Tour Guide Association is currently in the process of trying to obtain a rural tourism agency license. In the meanwhile, the tourists are offering individual trips and some are taking English lessons to better serve tourists.
When the agency fully launches, it will offer a total of 12 different tours – though its website currently only features 10. Learn more about them below:
Tour Finca Orgánica
At an organic farm, you can learn how this indigenous group obtains resources on a daily basis.
Tour Ujko Ñele
Learn how palma de hoja de suita plays an important role in the Bribi’s traditional architecture.
Tsipatsipa Kabata Tour
This tour will give you a deeper knowledge of the Bribi’s culture and how it relates to nature.
Tour de la Ceiba
In this tour, you’ll learn about how the Bribi have developed a relationship with nature.
This tour is an inside look into the Bribis’ ancestral history.
This tour aims to educate tourists on the importance of nature in everyday life.
Se Chumuwöla Tour
Learn how the Bribri’s organic and native foods can benefit your diet.
This tour looks at how Jícara plays an integral role in this culture’s manufacturing techniques.
Siwä Pakö Tour
Focusing on the Yorkín community, this tour looks at the origins of indigenous lifestyles.