Discover the Bribri Coffee Tour, one of the best Coffee Tours in Costa Rica, and the real-life work of The Catato family, an Indigenous community in Talamanca. And of the best Puerto Viejo Chocolate Tours.

The area is beautiful, with waterfalls, rivers, rainforests, and lots of local activities, like practicing your skills with the blowpipe (Batana) while weaving a necklace from Pitaya fibers.

Indigenous People of Costa Rica | Catato Family | Bribri Coffee and Chocolate Tour – What to expect?

Not far from Bribri town, just off the tarmac, into the rural area, we meet up with Catato and his relatives. They welcome us with an introduction to their place. On arrival, we get an introduction to the family’s history, can ask questions, and take photos.

One of the family members will show us how to use the blowpipe and several hunting methods. Try to take a shot and practice your hunting skills.

Meanwhile, a  necklace is braided from pitaya fibers and various seeds, a price for the best shot. Learn some words in their own language, which has luckily been written down. ‘Shés keña buey’? ‘Ye kje David Geurds’.

Get to practice your skills with the blowpipe (Batana) while weaving a necklace from Pitaya fibers. Join them along a medicinal trail to paint your face with natural colors or find good herbal, then enter the typical cone building and sit around the fire where the shaman used to be.

They have their own written language(Bribri) and a different look at life; much of their knowledge will be shown, explained, and shared during the tour.

From one of the ‘ranchos’ escapes a smell of roasting Cacao. In there, some women are preparing a chocolate beverage in ancestral ways. Help them roast and grind with a giant stone. The sooner, it is time to enjoy a hot drink. ‘They’ say that in their culture, by sharing chocolate, you become part of the family.

Next, we will stroll along a short path through their medicinal garden, where practically every herb, shrub, or tree you run into has medicinal or nutritional value. See how their own fibers are manufactured from the Pitaya leaf.

Paint your cheeks orange with a curcumin root and add red lines from achiote seeds, used by hunters to keep evil spirits away. So passing on from a Nutmeg tree to a sticky shrub, finding indigo to color clothing blue, we dress in huge Kastane leaves to camouflage our presence in the woods.

Catato even started a red frog breeding pond where poison dart frogs flourish. The species had almost disappeared from the area caused by pesticides. Luckily most have gone back to organic now, and so did the frogs.

For me, quote tour guide The Dutch Biologist, the round shaman hut made of palm leaves and other natural material is most impressive. We will sit around the eternal fire inside this center of spiritual power. The working area of the shaman. This an excellent opportunity for asking some final questions that have accumulated. As we go on our way again, you might want to buy some homemade souvenirs crafted by some really talented artists.

Along the route back, there is a waterfall; we can refresh ourselves and drink a coconut.

The family also prepares a typical Bribri lunch with sweet potatoes, cassava (yucca), Chayote, and some chicken if we want.

Optionally, it is a homemade wood-stove lunch. Although some ingredients have been bought from a shop (chicken, rice), most veggies, roots, and spices come from their own land. Served on a leaf dish, enjoy the food with local flavors.

After lunch, a moment to chill or buy souvenirs made by the Catato family. On the way back, we pass by a waterfall to take a refreshing dip.


Approximately: 5 hours.

What to bring with you

Light footwear, water, swimsuit, and towel.

Our Tour guides

Our guides are genuinely local and experienced tour professionals. They harbor a sincere and profound passion for nature and wildlife, deeply respect Costa Rican culture, are thoroughly prepared, and are licensed by the ICT (Costa Rican Tourism Institute).


For pricing, see the shop product page and the “Additional Information” Tab; the minimum group size [adults] is four. This tour is also available for two persons; please take a look at the product page for information.

What is Included

A local Costa Rican lunch, chocolate made from organic cacao and fresh fruits. And, of course, a very experienced and dedicated local tour guide. Fresh water and the entrance to the waterfall.

What is Excluded

The Tour is based upon own transport [upon request transport can be arranged].

Meeting Point and Directions

The designated rendezvous spot is at the Hone Creek Gas Station, just before the exit to Bribri [from the road from Cahuita towards Puerto Viejo].

One of the best Costa Rica coffee tours – form Bean till Bar | Bribri near Puerto Viejo Chocolate Tour

The production and processing of organic cacao are presented, so it is time to follow our noses, after the smell of roasting cacao, into a smokey leaf thatched rancho.

Viqui is behind the wood stove fire, stirring cacao. We will give her a hand and begin making chocolate the ‘old’ way.

To the indigenous people, cacao has a lot of spiritual significance and is not just another drink.

As the roasted Cacao is being crushed with a huge round stone, imagine how many men it took to carry the one it’s crushing down on.

Now easily peeled and grinned up, cacao is dissolved by adding hot water, and we taste real chocolate. They say, “When you share ‘the drink of the gods’ with them, you have become part of the family.”

Medicinal Garden

On the property, the Catato Family has a small, very well-assorted medicinal garden. At every step on the trail, another species of plant medicine can be found. Pick up a leaf here and there to end up with a lovely herbal tea.

Some plants have been collected from the jungle and taken to the gardens, so they have the herbs at hand.

Many of the plants are nowadays used by modern Pharmaceutical companies. For example, ‘Hombre Grande’ is so bitter that few can stand much of it. It contains ‘Kinina’, used worldwide to cure Malaria and other diseases.

Various plants are ingested as preventive medicine, so it is found that Curcumin (Tumaric) prevents cancer and Atjote protects the stomach line. At the end of the trim trail, you will find the top of a discovered medicinal ‘Ice Berg’. The Indigenous knowledge of plant medicine seems endless – no wonder these people reach such old age.

This is why we need to help conserve and maintain the Indigenous culture. There are no more new Shamans, though, and fewer youth are practicing the medicines.

At least the old people still know. Now is the chance to gather this knowledge respectfully, build up trust for history has made us drift apart, and work together on an eco sustainable future.

Visit the Shaman

In the vicinity of where most of the Catato families live, you can visit the oldest brother of the families. He is a shaman in the community and takes us a step further into their indigenous culture. Leopold (the oldest brother) will take us up the hill into ‘the roundhouse,’ a hut made out of natural material from the jungle only’.

Inside, we sat around the fire that kept smoking day and night. Here he takes time to explain the significance of the building and its connection to the natural and spiritual world. Every part of it is told to have been constructed by a different animal and has its own connection to the spiritual world.

It is also a place for people who seek natural healing/ medicine. Here we can ask questions that are more profound and personal. Leopold is known to have cured many people and gets visits from the locals seeking treatments instead of going to a ‘modern’ doctor.’

This shaman is not only curing people and sharing his knowledge with us. One of his main occupations is to unify the indigenous tribes, together with other older leaders, to maintain their ancient culture alive. One of the projects is to build a roundhouse in every village, so their children will always have a way to connect to their cultural heritage.

About the Waterfall of Bribri

Waterfalls have always been a special place for the Bribri people—a place to keep ceremonies such as marriage and other special occasions.

There are two of them in this area. One is very easy to get to but visited by a lot of people, and the other one takes a half-hour hike through the jungle, but it is well worth the effort.

About The Catato Family | Indigenous People of Costa Rica

The Catato family has had visitors from other countries for many years. Father Catato is head of the family, but as in every matriarch society Viqui, his wife, is in charge.

Their kids and other members assist them, an excellent example of indigenous people that found a way to make a living from their own culture and traditions.

Of course, they know all about our society and what it offers, but at least value their own. While visiting their place close (2 miles) to the Bribri city, we have an opportunity getting acquainted with their ancient ways.

Best Bribri Coffee Tour of Costa Rica| Catato Family and Waterfall | Chocolate Tour Puerto Viejo

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