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The Talamanca Mountains are host to the Cabecar Indians, the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica, and one that retains many of its traditional customs and beliefs. In contrast to many other indigenous groups, the Cabecar do not live in villages, but prefer small family units scattered throughout this isolated region that includes the Pacuare zone.
The Zutkia, or shaman, plays a multifaceted role in Cabecar culture as priest, magician, metaphysician or healer. From the Pacuare Lodge it is possible to visit a shaman and isolated family groups to learn something of their folklore and way of life, as well as enjoying the alluring tropical rainforest. The tour lasts the whole day and is quite physically demanding.
After a delicious breakfast we’ll depart the lodge for an uphill climb through lush rainforest, crystal clear streams and stunning wildlife. As you slowly make your way up steep inclines and through verdant jungle foliage, you will quickly become aware that you are not alone in this mysterious land. Strange piercing calls punctuate the stillness, followed by the flutter of wings and a burst of color. Overhead a pair of tucans has taken flight, curious of the strange intruders who clumsily make their way below. During the course of your journey, our naturalist guide will point out to you the many hidden secrets of this exotic natural habitat.
After approximately two hours the foliage thins and you are greeted by the laughter of children and rhythmic clucking of hens. A banana tree fringed clearing opens before you, providing a stunning panoramic vista of the shimmering rainforest canopy below. Latte colored palm-frond huts and curious stares signal your arrival. Once at the Shaman’s hut your guide will introduce you to the Zutkia, a man of small stature yet wizened beyond his years. Depending on his mood, you will have the unique opportunity to listen to him share his intimate knowledge of nature, and of the traditions and customs that have survived for centuries and which provide the foundation for the Cabecar’s relationship with nature. The Zutkia speaks Spanish and Cabecar, his native tongue; therefore, our expert guide will translate during the exchange. After briefly visiting with a nearby Cabecar family, we will begin our trek back down to the lodge.
We urge our guests to request permission from our guide before taking photographs of any Cabecar people. The Cabecar are very zealous of their customs and way of life and do not like to be photographed, and we strongly respect this wish.