As the natural attraction diminishes for areas like Arenal, where the volcano has been inactive for about two years now, Franz Werkstetter, owner of Finca Tarantela, believes that more tourists could enjoy a complete vacation experience in the Samara area, combining relaxation at the beach with exploration of the mountains and forests inland. “Samara has more mountains than other areas of the coast of Guanacaste,” Werkstetter affirmed.
In the past year, he has begun to offer tours of the 45 hectares of Finca Tarantela, allowing visitors to explore the forest and wade through the Tarantela creek, perhaps taking a swim, sitting under a small waterfall or stopping for a picnic, all while listening to the chorus of birds in the canopy above, such as the series of whistles that distinguishes the rufous-and-white wren.
Ornithologist Elidier Vargas Castro, from San Jose, spotted 58 different species of birds during his first day conducting a study at the finca and estimated that about 200 bird species might be in the area. The variety of birds increases when migratory birds arrive from the north beginning in September, he explained.
Werkstetter began reforesting the property when he bought it in 1989, endeavoring to plant the most endangered species native to Guanacaste, such as the roble coral (bullywood), guayabón (white nargusta) and cachimbo (coyote). Another tree that catches the attention of visitors is the Ayua amarilla, known as “el lagartillo” (the little crocodile), whose trunk is loaded with spikes that break off easily, are as light as cork and resemble crocodile teeth.
The best time to visit is up for debate. On the one hand, during dry season, more flowers are in bloom such as orchids and lilies, as well as foliage on the abundant vines. On the other hand, during the height of rainy season, waterfalls cascade down rocky surfaces that are otherwise dry.
Werkstetter described the forest as intermediate—not rainforest, but not completely dry tropical forest either, as it receives about 300cm of precipitation annually.