Each year Earth Day grows more pertinent and urgent. This year, having witnessed the pause and risin...
GUANACASTE, COSTA RICA
Surrounded by 136-acres of jungle and wild coast on the far-flung Papagayo Peninsula, Kasiiya is one of Costa Rica’s most sustainable lodges. The name means “find your pace” in Swahili, which is indicative of its nature-led experiences and healing programme. Kasiiya believes that “connection to nature through any of our senses helps us find our pace.”
Papagayo’s landscape is shifting as the impact of climate change is felt across the region. Seasons are becoming more severe, and this is affecting the whole ecosystem. A family of puma is coming closer to the property in search of food, and mudslides can damage trees. The lodge has a conservation plan to lessen the impacts of these climate challenges. This includes setting up trap cameras to monitor puma movements and creating new drainage systems. A turtle conservation project is also underway, to prevent poachers from getting to important nesting sites.
If Kasiiya were moved today, it would leave no trace. It has been built around every tree, and to have no negative impact on the landscape. Its environmental footprint is minimal, too. The property is run on solar power, guests drink treated rainwater out of the tap, and there is no single-use plastic. Experiences revolve around getting back to nature — snorkelling among parrotfish, trekking in search of howler monkeys or a fitness programme based on the intuitive movement of animals. Food is prepared from 90% organic produce from local farms. Two further suites are due to open in 2020, making the total number just seven.
Kasiiya Papagayo joined The Long Run in 2019 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
Kasiiya’s conservation journey has only just begun. Although an untouched wilderness, there is plenty of potential for the 136-acres of dry forest to thrive further. Due to changes in the climate, nature is changing, and Kasiiya recognises its responsibility and opportunity to safeguard indigenous species through this. To do this, Kasiiya is seeking local partnerships, reaching out to neighbouring properties, NGOs and universities. The property is working on a species inventory, and guides that can help visitors get closer to nature. Kasiiya is already working with one neighbour to protect deer.
Another threat to the area is developers that ‘accidentally’ burning sections of the forest. Kasiiya wants to prove that tourism and environmental sensitivity can work side by side.
Political instability in nearby Nicaragua is changing the local demographics. Nicuaraguan’s are being driven out of their country, and crossing the border into Costa Rica only 60km away. Kasiiya is committed to training up those most in need of employment. Fourteen of the local community are employed, but Kasiiya is looking to increase this number.
Kasiiya is also building on more general community relations. It recently purchased land in the local village to develop a carpentry shop to make furniture for the property. A staff member with a psychology background is also leading on other ways to engage, including on environmental education. Kasiiya listens to the needs of the community before acting.
Kasiiya’s ethos is very much rooted in the landscape, nature and indigenous culture. Spa products and treatments are derived from traditional remedies and medicines used by local tribes (the Chorotega). The property’s world-famous healer hopes to work more closely with schools and locals to build on indigenous heritage.
There are currently only five suites, but this will grow to 20 in the next three years. By building incredibly slowly, Kasiiya allows nature to adapt and grow around the concrete-free structures.
Lapa Rios and Pacuare owners and avid conservationists Luz Caceres and Roberto Fernandez recently p...