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Rancho Humo Ecological Preserve

Rescuing and Sharing Nature


By: Andres Benavente

Photos: Andrés Benavente and Rancho Humo.

Even though most of us would be hard pressed to find a correlation among cattle ranching, sustainable tourism, restoration of wetlands and dissemination of rural traditions, sometime ago William Salom had the vision of combining all of it. 


At a time before, this successful Colombian businessman, established in Costa Rica for the last 40 years, had become enchanted with a cattle hacienda of 2639 acres by the shores of the Tempisque River in Guanacaste.  He tells that "it was love at first sight" and without thinking about it twice, he decided to buy it.  Strangely, soon thereafter he started to work on flooding a good part of his new property.  Yes, you read correctly...flooding a good part of his new property, because he knew that those cow-lands were wetlands previously and he had decided it was only right to give it back to nature allowing the return of the water to an area that during decades had been drained and blocked in order to allow the grow of pasture.

Today, just 4 years after the beginning of the restoration of the water resources, the wetlands have returned in abundance and with them has come all the rich biodiversity that feels so at home in these dynamic ecosystems.

Thanks to this unbelievable bio-recovery, Rancho Humo and the low impact systems used by Salom's technical team, today are now recognized worldwide as an exemplary model of managing the restoration of wetlands and reforestation of the tropical dry forests.


This private ecological preserve on the shores of the Tempisque, shelters different ecosystems such as mangroves, dry forest and extensive wetlands, which are now home to a great variety of flora and fauna.  The stars of the place are, without a doubt, the birds. They find the ideal conditions to feed, mate and nest in these mirrors of water with a depth of 4 to 24 inches surrounded by abundant bushes and herbs.

The list of feathered residents is very extensive and includes several species of storks, ibis, herons, falcons, cormorants, spoonbills gulls, ducks and night herons, among other groups.  The unusual abundance of 3 of the largest birds of the country deserves special mention:  The lonely blue heron, the eye catching roseate spoonbill and the largest of them all, the impressive Jabiru. 



Nevertheless, the aviary family is not the only one that feels at home in this environment. In addition to the insects, fish and crustaceans forming the base of the food chain, there is also an abundance of reptiles and mammals that compliment the links of an incredibly rich ecosystem in constant movement.



Beauty to be shared

Marveled by the "new" beauty acquired by the old hacienda now bursting with life, Don William thought that it should be shared.

But since this businessman likes to give things a special touch, he wanted visitors, in addition to having an intimate contact with this great diversity of habitats and species, to also take advantage of the visit to get at the same time a cultural taste of rural Guanacastecan life and an experience of environmental conservation, all at the same place. With this idea very clear, Rancho Humo started preparations and has recently opened its doors to receive visitors.


On their day tours, besides observing nature in the land and river tours, Rancho Humo spices up the experience for visitors by allowing them to have close contact with the Guanacaste lifestyle ranging from the food and drink to the direct interaction with the sabaneros (cowboys) as they go about their various traditional activities.

Included in the future a plan for Rancho Humo is the construction of a highly sustainable eco-hotel, that will have only 45 rooms built as individual modules, that will include their own energy generation, bio-digesters, collection of rain waters and a strict management of solid waste in order to guarantee a minimum environmental impact.

An exclusive spa will also enhance the place in order to offer rest and comfort within the frame of total harmony with the environment.


Because of the variety and richness of the experience and the dedication and consistency of this project, we recommend Rancho Humo as a “must visit destination” for those who enjoy ecological and rural tourism.  You’ll find both experiences in the same place…



What's included in a day tour?

Internal transportation, meal, snacks and the company of an excellent and very dedicated naturalist guide. Also…


1. Touring the Tempisque River and the shores of the Palo Verde National Park.

2. Perimeter visit to Isla Pájaros (Bird's Island), a small but very important nesting sanctuary for migratory and resident birds.

3. Tour of the Rancho Humo Preserve by electric car around the perimeter and a walk in the forest.

4. Tour by the wetlands:  You will learn the details of its restoration and will see thousands of birds interacting with their environment.

5. Typical lunch.

6. Rancho Humo Lookout Point:  A 360˚ breathtaking view of the Tempisque River, the Palo Alto National Park, the Saino Isle, the forests and mountains on the river shore and ample wetlands that cover the rest of the view. It's a place to observe, breathe deeply, and relax.

7. Visit to the tree nursery

8. Interaction with the sabaneros and the rural life of Guanacaste.


How do I arrange my visit?   

Contact any tour operator who will also arrange transportation.  If you prefer to go in your own vehicle, contact the project with Melissa Briceño (88744763) or their central offices to:

(506) 2233 2233 or (506) 2698 1197.  Reservations are required.


  For further information, visit



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