The area north of La Fortuna, on the western fringes of the Llanura de Gautusos, is a world away from the activity-driven hubbub of town. The long road that runs from La Fortuna via Tanque sees little traffic, and peters out beyond the village of San Rafael de Gautuso into seemingly endless bumpy tracks that head northeast to Caño Negro or northwest to the border with Nicaragua. This is, however, one of the few places outside the Caribbean where you can interact with the country’s indigenous peoples: San Rafael is the modern-day home of the Maleku, and visitors are welcome to call in at the Reserva Indígena Maleku, just south of the village. On the way here – though more often visited on a tour – the Venado Caves provide a rare opportunity to head underground, their labyrinthine system of bat-filled caverns proving an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous canopy tours.
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