EXPLORETY

Ecotourism in Costa Rica: playing a part in conserving nature’s wonders

Old suspension bridge in Tenorio national park Costa Rica

Ecotourism, also known as sustainable travel, is the responsible travel that aims to conserve nature, sustain local communities, and often involves insight. It is about unity with nature and with the indigenous people. It is about participating in efforts to bring about positive results, rather than take advantage of the environment or a culture. In short, ecotourism is what truly connects us to each other and lets us put aside our differences while working toward the good of the planet.

Such a form of tourism is particularly important when visiting undisturbed natural areas such as the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland and Antarctica. In Costa Rica, it has become the predominant form of tourism since the 1980s.

Costa Rica has 12 ecosystems and is abundant with national parks, reserves and protected areas where biodiverse flora and fauna flourish. Its multiple natural phenomena include the Barra Honda Caves, the Poas Volcano Crater, the Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Las Baulas National Marine Park, and much more. Notable species such as the red-eyed frog, the red macaw, the two-toed sloth, the resplendent quetzal, the crab-eating racoon are among the many different types of animals you can meet in Costa Rica’s forests.

Crab-eating Raccoons, Brazil

The Nicoya Peninsula, an isolated paradise 80 miles long and 30 miles wide, features beaches, national parks and residents who allegedly live longer and healthier lives. One of the peninsula’s attractions is the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve, the first major conservation project in Costa Rica that was created in 1963. It features 140 species of trees that range from evergreen to deciduous (ones that lose its foliage) because the park is located between a wet and a dry microclimate. The howler and white face monkeys, as well as the white-nosed coati and white-tailed deer, are among the many species of animals that also include marine mammals such as orcas and birds such as pelicans.

Near the natural reserve, responsible tourists can also aid in beach conservation efforts and sea turtle nesting at the many beaches that include Montezuma, Ostional, Samara and Malpais beaches. Iguanas, dolphins, manta rays and marlins are common sightings in these locations.

The connectedness of the planet is most evident when events like deforestation of the rain forests visibly affect climate change. To prevent further destruction and even to reverse it, socially responsible tourism must focus on natural resource conservation. Instead of using resources, ecotourists should aim to cultivate them. Instead of exploring the environment, the focus should be on its protection. In the end, ecotourism supports local cultures, encourages conservation and recycling, and provides for unforgettable experiences.

Did you know?

  • Coffee is one of Costa Rica’s biggest exports, and ecotourists can opt to work on a coffee farm. Interestingly, ecotourism is partly responsible for helping propel the country’s coffee market.

  • According to the National Geographic fellow and The New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner, the Nicoya Peninsula is one of only five Blue Zone regions that exist in the world. Populations in these areas live longer and healthier lives.

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