Bordered by Nicaragua in the north and Panama to the southeast, Costa Rica, a nation in Central America was one of the earliest converts to eco-tourism. Boosted by an aggressive promotion by the government, Costa Rica could perhaps be called world’s most enthusiastic tree planters with 28 pc of its land transformed to parks or reserves and for over a decade, the country has been promoting itself as a sustainable tourism destination.
Eco-tourism in Costa Rica goes far beyond the usual lip-service paid by many destination to sustainability in terms of avoiding use of plastic bottles and not littering the streets or even using eco-friendly vehicles. The country is one of the richest in biodiversity and possessing an immense eco-system that offers an ideal setting for a large number of experiences and activities for travellers seeking eco-tourism. India Outbound brings six top activities and experiences that Costa Rica provides in eco-tourism.
Costa Rica’s eco lodges
Of course the first thing that one would very much like after reaching any destination is to settle down somewhere, unpack one’s luggage, freshen up, and then plan for the day’s activities. So, why not opt to settle for Costa Rica’s unique and famous Eco lodges.
Note that Costa Rica awards accommodations that do well in providing a sustainable and eco-friendly experience to its guests, so, be prepared to experience some of the best of eco-friendly escapades in these stunning lodges surrounded in wilderness. There is a range of rainforest hotels in the country’s Central Valley that are completely cut off from the rest of the world, meaning there is no electricity and internet in these places that are completely lost in the tranquility of the forests.
Do check out the Pacuare Lodge known to provide a unique rainforest experience to its visitors. Nestled on the banks of the Pacuare River, it offers luxurious amenities, cultural encounters, rich wildlife, and well-appointed accommodations. One of its most entertaining feature is that it is only accessible through rafts that are paddled by professional guides near the town of Turrialba. These professionals will sometimes point out to the species such as the poison dart frogs found along the banks of the river, as you raft through the river.
During dinner, expect candles and lamps to be the only means of illumination instead of electric bulbs in the lodges, making it truly a one of a kind experience!
Go zip lining
For a change of pace and perhaps a little bit of adrenaline rush, try zip lining through the enormous, rich forests of Costa Rica. It is an excellent way to look out for and experience the country’s lush forests, thriving abundance of wildlife and impressive number of towering waterfalls in the country. Fly from platform to platform as you witness number of birds fluttering their colourful wings above, animals hanging from the branches of trees, and perhaps even be fortunate enough to encounter the rare squirrel monkey called ‘Titi,’ the smallest and rarest monkey in Costa Rica to boast it to your peers.
Costa Rica is abundant in terms of wildlife, making it the ultimate destination for nature enthusiasts. The country is bursting with hundreds of wildlife species and is at the top of list of hardcore wildlife fans.
A paradise for birdwatchers, the country is home to some of the most beautiful and colourful birds in the world. Rainbow-coloured Scarlet macaws, emerald or lime coloured resplendent quetzals or the keel-billed toucans with multi-coloured bills, are perhaps some note-worthy mentions to blow one’s mind away.
One may find these very birds along with other animals such as the rare white head Capuchin Monkey, resting somewhere on the trees, who then disappear the next moment. So, bearing this in mind keep your eyes peeled and your camera ever ready to capture these animals, before they disappear.
Moving onto land, watch out for the exotic wild cats such as the jaguars, or puma or the lesser anteater, the tamandua tetradactyla, leisurely strolling the grounds with their long tubular and tapered snouts flaring in front of them.
Along the coast, opt to watch out for turtles which is a popular activity, especially during April and May when leatherback and green sea turtles lurch up upon the beach to lay their eggs.
Another popular sight between mid July to late October on the coast is the sight of humpback whales in Costa Rican waters.
Uvita, a small village in Costa Rica, holds a Whale Festival every year in the first two weekends of September to commemorate these mammoth ocean wonders. Watch as these spectacular mammals rise out from the waters and fall on their backs, or perhaps if you are lucky you will get to witness it doing its rare backflip.
Explore local farms
The best way to enjoy the local fares and get an insight on how the nation produces its fresh and organic ingredients is to go on a tour around Costa Rica’s organic farms.
Head to Corso Lecheria, 50 minutes away from capital San Jose, and find yourself walking through forests veiled in clouds and lively strawberry fields studded with vibrant green and red dots peeking from the green leaves.
Via a tractor ride, go on a sightseeing of the region’s varied organic fields, then head to the stables to milk cows and then go for tasting the various cheeses at a cheese factory. If you are staying in an eco-lodge, ask if they have their own organic farms where you can volunteer, since many eco-lodges in the country tend to do so.
Go volcano hopping
Out of its 60 volcanoes, Costa Rica has only six which are active. Due to its active tendency, areas around these volcanoes have become a breeding ground for rich biodiversity that is unique to the country.
So, take a deep breath and head out to look for the exotic bubbling mud pools and hot springs surrounding the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano.
If you are up for a tour filled with adventure, the Arenal Volcano that towers over a lush landscape is the perfect place to seek out.
After that hop onto the next famous volcano, the Paos Volcano in the Central Valley and walk to its viewpoint to view its acidic lake, that will be yielding a mesmerising, bright blue colour. Do note that once there, one will be handed safety equipment. So be careful and avoid taking a dip in the water even when someone dares you to do so.
A paradise for coffee lovers
Known as one of the highest exporters of coffee, Costa Rica is the Garden-of-Eden for coffee enthusiasts. Heralded in high regard for its Arabica beans, the nation has many coffee farms that utilises natural compost and solar energy, which is perhaps the reason for its fine quality of beans that it produces.
Take the opportunity to tour a coffee plantation and learn about the roasteries and plantations while getting to sample only the finest coffee. Visit the Doka Estate to explore one of the oldest roasting factory in Costa Rica and learn more about coffee production, or perhaps just stop by a roadside coffee shop to sip a fresh cup of Joe made with high-quality Arabica beans. Do remind yourself not to forget to get a bag of these fantastic beans back home, when visiting these plantations.