Eco Lodge & Permaculture Farm in the Heart of Costa Rica


Working Permaculture Farm & Educational Eco Lodge

Rancho Mastatal defines unique travel experiences. This is a place where locals ride their horses to the bar in the evening, and hundreds of tropical birds are your wake-up call each morning.

Located outside Cangrejo National Park, in central Costa Rica Rancho Mastatal is an eco lodge destination, a sustainable education centre, a farm, a lodge, a homestead, and a charitable organization supporting the local community. Rancho Mastatal is an educational, working permaculture farm. Owners, staff, and guests contribute to running the farm and it's the heart of daily life. But what is permaculture, and what is a permaculture farm? This is an approach to farming that focuses on sustainable practices and philosophy. Because permaculture is a style of agriculture that works in tandem with the dynamics of an ecosystem, rather than imposing itself on that ecosystem, it demands a fair amount of innovative, ecological practices, equipment and implements. Rancho Mastatal teaches these practices, while embodying a meaningful livelihood for its staff and team members. Its traveling guests are enveloped in this community-rooted, environmentally rich experience.

Want to see some of the wild daily activities you might be taking part in during your experience working and playing as a guest or student at the permaculture farm? Check out their programs and activity descriptions beautifully illustrated here.

Experience Costa Rica's Rich Biodiversity

Costa Rica’s unique beauty is woven into the adventure of visiting and living at this working eco lodge. The 300 acre Rancho Mastatal campus includes both the dryer forest and the rainforest, making it home to incredible environmental diversity. It is a wildlife refuge with beautiful waterfalls and rivers, idyllic swimming holes, amazing trees, and extraordinary wilderness views. It’s also a preserved intact habitat for many of the country’s fascinating and incredibly beautiful species of plants and animals: orchids, ferns, guanacaste trees, tropical fruit, heliconia, passion flowers, sloths, capuchin monkeys, toucans, parrots, and thousands of others!

Visitors have access to over 10 kilometers of trails. The rainforest setting, and the team at the Ranch, make this an incredibly unique place to learn, and explore.

Costa Rica’s Living Eco Education Centre

Though Rancho Mastatal defies a singular definition of what it “is”, the permaculture farm is also an education center and hosts groups of learners throughout the year. Rancho Mastatal offers profoundly authentic, hands-on apprenticeships and internships, workshops and guest experiences to individual travelers and explorers. It is regularly visited by university and high school groups as well. The program practices, promotes and teaches natural building, fermentation, permaculture design, renewable energy, agroforestry, wilderness medicine, homesteading in the tropics, and more.

Not a luxury eco lodge but a caring and passionate community home, the Rancho Mastatal project is ideal for visitors who embrace unique, responsible tourism. Rancho Mastatal’s guests usually have a desire to make a positive impact on the local economy while loving the sights and sounds of the rainforest. You will find beautifully hand-crafted furniture, uniquely designed accommodations, and scrumptious, nourishing meals made from locally grown ingredients! The Ranch is famous for the amazing cuisine that flows out of the kitchen. Without the healthy, mouthwatering, homemade food that is created in the small kitchen three times a day, the work and play just would not be the same. Prepare to enjoy meals such as: Patacones, sopa azteca, Thai green curry, vegetable korma, bamboo pickles, and green papaya kimchi.

The Ranch tends to attract visitors looking for this kind of authentic eco lodge experience well off the guidebook trail.

Costa Rica Rainforest Mountains
Costa Rica Rainforest Toucan
Rancho Mastatal is an eco lodge & permaculture farm in the heart of Costa Rica's rainforest with rich biodiversity
Working permaculture farm in Costa Rica
Rancho Mastatal is an eco lodge and permaculture farm in Costa Rica
Costa Rica biodiversity
Costa Rica Capuchin
Working permaculture farm in Costa Rica
Open Wooden Cabin
Rancho Mastatal is an eco lodge, working permaculture farm, and eco educational centre in Central Costa Rica

Five Things We Love About RANCHO MASTATAL


Little to no internet

Could you do it? This is a big draw for many people, as the rural location and relative isolation is fantastic to get away from the demands of city life, or the tourism scene. The Rancho Mastatal team aims to be as self-sufficient as possible, given the challenges of sourcing materials, labour, and certain foods due to the Ranch's isolation.


Rancho Mastatal founded a charity to support local people and farmers!

Costa Rica is a leader in the world for sustainable development and Rancho Mastatal supports the country's efforts, and attracts like minded travelers. While it creates a caring community of individuals to live and work on the Ranch, it supports the local population in Mastatal in their endeavours to create a more sustainable world as well. Rancho Mastatal operates a small non profit that helps support their local community. Through this charity Rancho Mastatal offers scholarships, pays for computers for graduates, financially supports students who are studying, offers home repairs, and installs solar power systems at people's houses who don't have electricity


Rancho Mastatal was born out of an adventurous spirit and a desire to create a better world!

Rancho Mastatal opened in November 2001 after Tim O’Hara and Robin Nunes embarked on a number of eventful weeks traversing the American West and much of Central America in their two trusty Toyotas. With the hope of providing a space where individuals could come to learn about the importance of living more responsibly, and with the goal of contributing an economic boost to the small community of Mastatal, the Ranch is where Tim and Robin decided to permanently call home.


Work/life balance is alive and well!

Because Rancho Mastatal is a working permaculture farm, there’s a lot to do everyday, but hard work is balanced by hard play! Both personal relaxing self-care and introspection, or having fun with guests, family, and fellow colleagues is a top priority. With the local pub just a short (horse) ride down the road, festive social time can include music, engaging conversations, and lively games.


Unique accommodations

Rancho Mastatal builds living structures using contemporary and traditional natural building methods and locally sourced materials. They use bamboo, cob, wattle and daub, light clay, natural plasters, wood and stone sourced from the area's surrounding forests and rivers. Many of the buildings are adorned with beautiful clay carvings that staff and guests have contributed to creating.

Rancho Mastatal is an eco lodge, working permaculture farm, and eco educational centre in Central Costa Rica

Book a tour today

Booking a stay with Rancho Mastatal offers a fair amount of choice. Check out the website to see all the options available for type of accommodation, length of stay, and the type of learning and/or contributing you will be part of. Your budget, desires and needs will be taken into consideration with the team, as you book. Lodging rates include all meals.