Cook Your Own Authentic Costa Rican Meal at Arenal Vida Campesina
Blog - March 21, 2021

If you’re looking for an extraordinary experience while visiting Costa Rica, make sure you head to Arenal Vida Campesina. Arenal Vida Campesina is a project that seeks to preserve traditional Costa Rican identity while promoting practical philosophies that support and sustain the best relationship between man and the environment.

statue in Arenal Vida Campesina

This trip was made possible through Il Viaggio Travel and Family Travel Association. However, all opinions are my own.

I recently spent six days in Costa Rica enjoying everything the country has to offer through a family focused tour operator called: Costa Rica Family Holidays. We could not have truly enjoyed these beautiful sites without our amazing tour guide Luis Diego Soto from Il Viaggio Travel. I highly recommend having a travel advisor to ensure that you have a great tour.

We visited many family friendly destinations during our trip to Costa Rica, including Arenal Vida Campesina, a self-sustained, organic, cultural education center. There are many things to do at Arenal Vida Campesina and it makes for a great family destination where all ages will find something to enjoy. 

You will learn about the culture and take an educational tour of this beautiful organic farm. Of the many activities, my favorite part was the cooking class.

Pink flower in costa rica

La Fortuna de San Carlos

La Fortuna de San Carlos is located in the Alajuela province, not far from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve and the northern lowlands in the Santa Elena area. It is the beating heart of a region of Costa Rica that is home to several geological wonders. Nearby are two spectacular sights: Arenal Volcano (Volcán Arenal), one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupting with lava and ash on a regular basis, and La Fortuna Waterfall, a majestic chute pouring from a 230-foot cliff deep in a tropical rain forest. Hot springs after hot springs provide relaxing interludes between sights and adrenaline-pumping activities (zip-lining, hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding), and the area’s many rustic retreats are blissful places to end a day of adventures.

At La Fortuna, you can also enjoy a chocolate tour

Arenal Vida Campesina

At Campesina property, you can appreciate traditional and non-traditional cultivations. You can also participate in different activities. These activities include milking a cow, making tortillas, and gathering vegetables from the vegetable garden. You can also enjoy cultural activities such as sugar cane milling, traditional dances, and collecting water from the handmade well.

You will also have the opportunity to help the environment by sponsoring and planting an endangered tree, as well as enjoy a traditional, organic lunch made with products harvested from the property and cooked on a woodstove.

At the farm, you will find around 113 different plant species and different crops using strict organic techniques, semi-stable livestock, methane gas production, tilapia, and the manufacture of organic components.

Learn About the Costa Rican Culture

Taking a vacation to Costa Rica gives you so many interesting experiences. The local farm is a great place to learn about Costa Rica’s culture and its food. You can walk on trails in the green area, harvest cassava, plant it, harvest vegetables, fresh fruits, and any other necessary ingredient for lunch or dinner.

All of it is fresh from the farm, grown organically through the concept of sustainability. It is great for children over 8 years-old. The children can partake in the cooking lessons as well and have great time.

The trip to this traditional Costa Rican “Finca” begins with a ride in an accessible van with a free-turning space and an electric lift. There you will be able to pursue your truly creative culinary passions.

chihuahua dog at Camp Vida Campesina

You may even run into the guard dog…

Local farm at Arenal Vida Campesina full of green trees and colorful flowers

Educational Tours

We were taken on an educational tours on the local farm. There we learned about responsible production in harmony with the environment.

Farmer guiding us through the Finca and its farmland

The Costa Rican agriculture keeps the economy of the country strong, growing: sugar cane, coffee, corn, yucca, cocoa, bananas and plantain. The Arenal Vida Campesina also cultivates nontraditional crops such as Chinese potatoes, yams, and a few others.

Not everything grown on the farm is used as food. Some of the crops are used as base for pesticide and for medicinal purposes.

One of the things I enjoyed the most, besides the education on the crops, was seeing the beautiful exotic flowers and fruits. The natural scenes were breathtaking on this amazing property. Just sitting there and observing the amazing trees and vibrant flowers will make you feel extremely relaxed.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even ride the bull!

costa rican dish arenal vida campesina

Cooking Classes

After picking delicious produce from the farm, you will visit Arenal Vida Campesina’s main house and restaurant. The house’s ramped entryways, step-free doorways, and smooth floors make it easy to get around. The fun, however, continues in the kitchen.

My favorite part of the tour was the cooking classes. There we were able to put our creativity to the test. Using the beautiful produce we hand-picked, we learned traditional Costa Rican cooking methods. We learned how to make arroz con pollo and many other Costa Rican dishes. Everyone worked together to prepare dinner.

Our group made tortillas, another prepped veggies. It was all a collaborative effort which made it even more fun.  Everything was made from scratch and the ingredients were picked from the farm which is really cool as well. It was so much fun!

There is nothing like eating freshly picked, organic vegetables from an organic farm.

a man explaining the process of making fresh sugar cane juice at arenal vida campesina

Shots!

We also learned about the process of making fresh sugar cane juice.

We got use all the equipment used at the farm for the process of making cane sugar juice. I didn’t realize how much hard work it took to make cane juice! After all this hard work we had to reward ourselves with some shots of the very popular drink called Cacique Guaro. Cacique Guaro is made with sugar cane juice.

items representing Costa Rican culture at arenal vida campesina

During our farm tour we also got to learn some Costa Rican slang which is a big part of the culture. It was a great time! The food was as authentic as it gets, and before we left I purchased some items that they make there.

If you want, you may also participate in their reforestation project by sponsoring your own tree from an endangered species, and know that you have done something to protect the natural beauty of this amazing landscape.

pin for arenal vida campesina

The cooking class was definitely the highlight of trip.  They saved the best for last!

If you’d like to know more about Costa Rica, check 5 Accessible Destinations to Visit in Costa Rica and Things to do in Costa Rica with Kids.

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