Costa Rica: An Eco-Adventure to Remember
By Allison Neves
Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books that you would order through the Scholastic Book Club when you were a kid? You know… the ones that allowed you, the reader, to be a double agent, or a famous celebrity or even a space ship captain on a mission to save the planet? If you recall, with those books you were allowed to make the pivotal decisions for your character that would lead you through the pages on the book on your own personal journey.
So it is me paying homage to the “literary works” of my childhood when I bring you…Costa Rica: Choose Your Own Adventure.
YOU are a lover of earth-friendly, sustainable travel. The current state of the world has zapped your Zen and you are in desperate need of an eco-chic get-away to nurture your soul. – You are the Eco Traveler
Eco Traveler (5 Nights)
Day 1: Begin your journey by flying into the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. From there transfer to the small fishing village of Puerto Jimenez via a quick 45 minute flight on Nature Air, Costa Rica’s first carbon neutral airline.
Established in 2007, Nature Air (www.natureair.com) is a Costa Rican-based air carrier that has embarked upon an impressive social responsibility project. The company has aircraft noise and carbon emission reduction programs as well as an initiative to provide clean energy through solar and wind farms in Costa Rica. According to the company’s web site, Nature Air has partnered with the fuel aviation company Aerotica, to develop and launch Costa Rica’s only private bio-fuel filling station. It is through this program that they are able to fuel company vehicles and equipment using 100% bio-diesel, reducing roughly 160 tons of CO2 emissions per year. Buckle up and fly with the peace of mind in knowing that your carbon foot print from your flight is minimal and that Nature Air’s aggressive reforestation project will undoubtedly fully eliminate that footprint all together.
The Osa Peninsula: You are heading to the Osa Peninsula a road less traveled in the tourism gem of Costa Rica. The Osa Peninsula is located in the largest expanse of tropical rainforest in the Pacific coast. This area is the most biologically intense places of the planet. Here you will find more than 350 species of birds, 115 species of reptiles, 750 species of trees and 10,000 species of insects…along with the 100,000 acre fantastic Corcovado National Park.
Arrive in Puerto Jimenez. From here you will take a ferry across the bay to Puerto Jimenez, once there you will be picked up and transferred to your lodging for the next three nights.
Option 1. You are looking for the ultimate in luxury, eco-accommodations, a place where sophistication meets sustainability. You want to awake to the sounds of the rainforest canopy and its inhabitants. Make your way to the award-winning Lapa Rios Ecolodge perched high in the trees overlooking the Osa Peninsula.
Lapa Rios is set in a private nature reserve spread over 1,000 acres in the rainforest in Costa Rica, this hotel overlooks the pristine point where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific Ocean. Lapa Rios is a model ecotourism project and a pioneer in sustainable tourism employing only people from the local community and being committed to environmentally sound practices.
Lapa Rios Ecolodge is a sustainable tourism pioneer and has been awarded Costa Rica’s highest sustainable tourism certification. Ask to be taken on the sustainability tour where you can learn about the lodges award-winning best practices in protecting the planet… it’s a most impressive operation.
Daily guest experiences include a variety of staff naturalist led rainforest hikes, bird watching walks and sustainable/educational local project visits. Ocean-mangrove boating trips, kayaking and surfing are offered by neighboring guides, as well as massages and yoga classes.
The setting of Lapa Rios is absolutely a little piece of paradise. However, Lapa Rios has much more to offer than stunning ocean views and lush tropical rainforest. While staying in Lapa Rios, you will be able to enjoy a once in a lifetime vacation while doing something good for the planet. Visit www.laparios.com to book your eco-friendly stay.
Option 2. You are looking for a budget-friendly, beachfront excursion. In that case from the Golfito ferry transfer to Iguana Lodge located in the Golfo Dulce, Osa Peninsula.
Iguana Lodge is one of the Osa Peninsula’s premier beach ecolodge. Iguana Lodge prides itself on its spectacular Costa Rican staff, its conservation efforts (including the turtle project), and its community programs: the Puerto Jimenez Public Library and Todo Es Posible (Everything is Possible) – the lodge’s project to send the Osa’s high school graduates to university.
Breakfast and dinner are served in the main lobby area of the lodge. There is also an on site restaurant and bar for lunch. During the day learn about Iguana Lodge’s community and environmental projects which include a turtle hatchery and local library or spend a day at Corcovado National Park or horseback riding along the beach behind the lodge.
Dinner is served in a family style communal environment and every dinner is fresh and absolutely delicious. The kitchen staff uses fresh, organic fruits and veggies from local farms and the owners and Iguana Lodge staff make every meal memorable. Book your travel May 1st – November 14th for the best rates. For more information about Iguana Lodge, please visit www.iguanalodge.com.
Three days later you will find the gauge on your personal Zen tank heading towards FULL as you head back to San Jose, Costa Rica. For your last two nights of eco-fun, stay in one of the most impressive sustainable tourism projects I have ever experienced. Make your way 20 minutes outside of the center of the city’s bustling capital and towards the outskirts of town where you’ll find Hotel Finca Rosa Blanca.
San Jose: Check into the Hotel Finca Rosa Blanca (www.fincarosablanca.com), an organic shade grown coffee plantation and world class, 13-room eco-lodge. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades for its extraordinary quality and global leadership in responsible tourism, the hotel is the perfect choice for travelers who want to combine luxury with sustainability.
Since it began in 1985 the project at Finca Rosa Blanca has concentrated on an ambitious plan of recycling and regeneration, social consciousness and education. Upon your arrival, take the free Sustainability Tour of the Farm and the hotel where the many aspects of the Costa Rican Certification of Sustainable Tourism program are explained and experienced. Eat dinner at the onsite restaurant that offers organic, world-class cuisine.
Awake bright and early with your soul nearly restored. Spend your last full day in Costa Rica on one of the many guided tours that can be arranged by the hotel such as hiking into the Braulio Carillo National Park Cloud Forest, or make your way to visit the Barva, Poás and Irazú volcanoes. Other tours include butterfly farms, bungee jumping, white water rafting and horseback riding tours.
Take it down a notch. Sleep in and enjoy a coffee tour of the plantation where you will learn how organic coffee is grown, harvested, dried and processed. In addition to roasting and packing your own coffee, get a quick lesson in coffee tasting and learn how the professionals around the globe determine the quality and grade of beans before they end up in your latte.
Day 6: It’s time to head home, rested and rejuvenated with a little more hope for the world thanks to the pristine beauty of Costa Rica and the thoughtful and dedicated company’s and people who are doing their part to keep it that way …
Costa Rica has a little something for everyone and is ultimate eco-tourist destination offering excellent options for all those in search of adventure, beauty and culture.
Most major airlines fly to major cities within Costa Rica. Rates are affordable from the US. Check Taca Airlines web site: www.taca.com for regular specials. For additional information about Costa Rica visit www.visitcostarica.com.
Allison Neves is a freelance travel and fitness writer from San Francisco, California.With parents from San Salvador and Hong Kong, she’s made a personal commitment to re-connect with her roots by traveling extensively through out Latin America and Asia. When she’s not trying to save the world one press releases at a time, Allison spends her time with her time traveling, stretching her limbs in a pilates studio, scuba diving and spending time with best friend and husband, Travis. More information on Allison can be found at: www.operationink.com
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