John and I arrived to La Finca Bellavista Treehouse Community as volunteers just a week ago. As volunteers, our main duties are helping in the kitchen and helping walk guests to their treehouses. We stay in the volunteer bunkhouse which is at base camp next to all the communal buildings near the river.
Besides our typical daily tasks, we are encouraged to find other projects to work on, if we’d like.
Finca Bellavista is an interesting community because there are staff members, volunteers, guests, and residents.
Staff members work in the kitchen and on the grounds, and make the whole place run smoothly.
Volunteers are also a key piece of the puzzle, offering endless hours of dishwashing and fruit cutting. The volunteers also help create the community here – we have happy hour and socialize with guests as we walk them out to their tree houses, some of which are up to an hour’s hike from base camp.
Residents live here full or part time, and flow in and out of communal life, sometimes eating meals or joining happy hour with the rest of us. The residents own treehouses – some of them rent their treehouses out while they are away most or part of the year, while others live here full time and do not rent out their treehouses.
Our own project
As volunteers, we can earn extra volunteer hours on projects of our choice, which gives us the opportunity to exchange our work for nights in treehouses that are not occupied by guests – definitely worthwhile!
Our first day at the Finca we were given the day off to explore. Because we are avid hikers, we went to visit all the trails Finca had to offer. John and I found a trail that obviously hadn’t been maintained for quite some time (we later found out it had been maybe 3 years – a long time in the jungle!). It was called La Punta trail.
We started down the trail, pushing past branches and stepping over fallen logs until we reached a point where the trail simply disappeared into a mess of huge branches. It was obviously a gigantic fallen tree. We attempted to scramble past the tree, but the terrain was so steep on either side that we would have to hold on to other plants in order not to fall down. Having no experience with this ecosystem, we didn’t know what plants would be dangerous to hold on to, so we decided to turn around and come back another day with tools.
After we cleared the major obstructions on the trail, we came back and turned our focus to widening the trail by cutting back vegetation with the machete and sheering scissors. I wore long pants and brought 3 or 4 liters of water to try to stay hydrated in the Costa Rican sun. The heat and humidity was brutal, and I drenched my long pants all the way down to my boots with sweat, but by the time we finished that day, I felt like we had really made this trail enjoyable again.
We then invited the manager on duty, Martin to come visit the trail, and his girlfriend Eva joined us too. The trail is still challenging, but the beautiful large trees, and rewarding views make the trail worth the effort.
At the end of the trail, there is a dilapidated old picnic bench; a place to rest while enjoying the view. Maybe now it will get replaced.
I’m so glad that we were able to help with this project because we love to help with trails. John and I love to hike, and we never want to take trails for granted. Now Finca Bellavista has a trail with a beautiful view.
©️ Photo and text by Christine Martens
Do you want to be a volunteer in Finca Bellavista Treehouse Community?
For more information click on the volunteer page section.