San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tayutic: Family Farm Turned Agro-tourism Project

YOU’RE looking to escape the congestedcraziness of San José. You’vealready been to the volcanoes, and you’rebored with the beaches. Now there’s anotheroption for getting out of the city for aday: Tayutic, the Hacienda Experience.Located in Turrialba, a Caribbean slopetown about an hour and a half east ofSan José, Tayutic is a family farm turned“agro-tourism” project. While literally gettinga breath of fresh air, visitors to Tayuticcan experience a sensory-pleasing tour of atraditional Costa Rican finca. Owned bythe fourth generation of Ortuño brothers,Tayutic produces coffee, sugarcane andmacadamia.A stroll through Tayutic’s rolling greenhills includes a stop at a traditionaltrapiche, or sugar mill. Visitors can watchthe old-time process of making tapa dedulce (brown-sugar loaves), from thesqueezing of juice from sugarcane and themelting of sugar and honey over a fire, tothe pouring of the liquid creation into awooden mold. The final product isTayutic’s own tapa de dulce con leche ymacadamia, of which generous samplesare offered.Visitors can see how coffee beans areharvested, dried and roasted as they sipTayutic’s signature blend. Nuts from thefinca’s 17,000 macadamia trees are alsoabundant as tour guides explain their cultivationand sale.A walk up the hillside featuring breathtakingviews from all angles leads toTayutic’s own 19th-century church. Rescuedfrom the nearby town of Pavoneswhere it was being torn down, the churchwas bought and rebuilt with its originalstained-glass windows and pews by theOrtuño family.The details on each stop of the tour createthe feeling of going backin time. The men who demonstratemaking tapa de dulceat the trapiche wear the traditionalall-white outfit of aTico farmer, and even theoxen that push around thesugar mill’s wheel have elaboratelysewn harnesses.THE concept behind Tayutic is “agro tourism,”which owner Alfredo Ortuñodescribed as “a different way of getting toknow Costa Rica and the Tico way oflife,” at a San José launching of the projectApril 28.“It’s a way of introducing tourists toorganically grown products and environmentalmanagement while they experiencenatural beauty,” Ortuño said.The Tayutic finca has been in theOrtuño family for 40 years. The familypurchased the land in 1963 as the IrazúVolcano was erupting. Looking for a placewhere ashes wouldn’t fall on their coffeecrop, they came upon Tayutic,explained Federico Ortuño,one of three brothersand one sister.As the business grew andcoffee prices went up, thefamily purchased more land.Tayutic currently has two fincas– one with 200 hectaresof sugarcane and anotherwith 175 hectares of mixed macadamia,coffee, sugarcane and forests.Tayutic’s brand-name macadamia nuts,coffee and brown sugar are for sale in itsgift shop. The sugar is also exported toEurope and sold around Costa Rica.FOUR years ago, the family had theidea of sharing Tayutic’s splendor by openingthe finca to the public. So far, all touristshave come on daytrips from cruise ships.Now, the owners hope to move into asecond phase of the agro-tourism project byattracting tourists from the Central Valley.Tayutic welcomes groups and hostsspecial events such as conferences, familyreunions and weddings. It offers guidedtours in several different languages, andrecommends about 50 people per guide.Visitors can tailor their visit to theirtastes, said marketing director ObllinnyAlfaro. A soccer game, rafting trip orhike can be arranged to suit each group’sinterests.The cost for a day visit to Tayutic is$22 for adults and $12 for children forCosta Ricans and residents, and $27 foradults and $15 for children for internationaltourists. Prices include a traditionalCosta Rican lunch accented with Tayuticspecialties such as rice with macadamia.The finca does not offer overnightaccommodations but can suggest hotels innearby Turrialba for those who’d like tospend a couple of days in the area.For more information, call 280-8686,e-mail orvisit

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