Photo by Ariana Crespo
Photo by Ariana Crespo

By: Arianna McKinney / VozdeGuanacaste –  Before you sign up for the reality TV show Survivor, you could pick up a few tips from Alvaro Teran Sauter during a hike into the Werner Sauter Biological Reserve with Samara Trails. By the end of the hike, Teran will have you crunching down on tiny termites for a high-protein snack with a woody flavor and eating flower petals for dessert.

Alvaro Terán Saute eating termites | Photo by Ariana Crespo
Alvaro Terán Saute eating termites | Photo by Ariana Crespo

Okay, okay, the termites are optional, but only one person in our tour group decided not to try them. Teran also showed us how to build a complete “rancho” style house using materials from the forest, as well as how to wash your dishes using soap from the Guanacaste tree and “raspa” leaves as a scrub brush.

The 2.5-mile (4-km) hike through a mango plantation, a biological reserve and a reforestation project is on e of the most informative tours around if you want to learn about local flora and fauna. Teran studied agricultural engineering at EARTH University, focusing on a mix of ecology, biology and organic agriculture.

The biological reserve was founded by Teran’s grandfather, Werner Sauter, 28 years ago. It was cattle pasture back then, but you can hardly tell now, as the tropical dry forest is rapidly growing back. In addition, in June they started a program called Not Gone Yet, with the goal of planting 800 trees around the reserve to increase the diversity of species. So far they have planted 150, including Mahogany, Cenizaro (Rain Tree), Cocobolo (Rosewood), Yellow Cortez, Black Cortez, Cristobal, White Guanacaste, Royal Guayacan, Ron Ron and Tempisque. Children from Samara School helped plant 50 of the trees

We rest at the peak of the mountain, 726 feet or 221 meters above sea level, to watch the sunset over Samara Beach and snack on pineapple, watermelon and oatmeal bars. The coatis’ keen noses picked up the smell of fruit and they were soon rummaging through the brush toward us.  We were also delighted to see a variety of birds, butterflies and, of course, howler monkeys.

“I hope you learned from the forest,” Teran says as we make our way back down the mountain trail. “That’s my grandpa’s and my goal.”

The tour generally lasts 3 to 3 ½ hours, and good footwear is recommended. The standard rate for adults is $35 and for youth under 18 is $15. For more information, contact samaratrails@gmail.com or call 8835-9040.