Finding Out If Costa Rica Deserves Its Eco Travel Crown
Newsflash, I’m off to Costa Rica in two weeks! And after a VERY long and miserable winter, I’m so ready for a much-needed dose of sunny goodness. Expect some seriously enviable Instagram pictures of waterfalls, beaches, wildlife and volcanoes. Oh, and a few pics of me of me in swoon-worthy spots and amongst adorable wildlife (I’m talking about you Mr Sloth).
I’ve teamed up with the amazing people at Eco Companion. They’re a sustainable eco-tourism company doing great things to increase awareness of green travel. Mass tourism is incredibly damaging to our environment. Whilst you’re sunning yourself on the beach with a cocktail in hand, you might want to reflect on your carbon footprint. Ecotourism is here to stay, and hopefully, soon it won’t be a niche area. It would make such a difference is everyone cared for the planet whilst on their travels, even just a little bit.
Thankfully there are some countries that are rocking the eco-lifestyle and fight hard to encourage sustainable travel on their precious turf. Examples of ecotourism at its best around the world include the Arabian desert and Belize’s Barrier Reef. 36% of Belize’s landmass benefits from having a protected status. Since the 1980’s, the government here has made an effort to take an interest in protecting their communities. Glover’s Reef has been maintained as a “no–take” marine reserve, which helps prevent overfishing.
But perhaps the absolute King of ecotourism is Costa Rica. Costa Rica appeared in Eco Companion’s top 5 destinations to visit in 2018 – and it’s easy to see why. As well as their passion for protecting their wildlife and natural gems, and being one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Costa Rica offers a truly sensational holiday.
It has a wide range of terrains, from dense tropical forests filled with incredible wildlife, to mountains, national parks and idyllic beaches. Butterfly fan? Here’s a fun fact, 10% of the world’s known butterfly species call Costa Rica home. That’s a whole lotta prettiness. One minute you’ll be gazing out upon a cloud forest, and the next you could find yourself stumbling upon an epic volcano.
Is Pura Vida at the heart of Costa Rica’s caring soul??
The country lives by the motto ‘Pura Vida’ which means ‘pure life’. This phrase is ingrained in everything Costa Rican’s do, and is central to their way of life. Now I don’t know about you, but I’d love to visit a country where they’ve got such a powerful, positive ethos. I’m excited to delve further into what this really means to the locals, and see if us Brits can take anything valuable away from adopting a ‘Pura Vida’ mindset. The famous Rolling Stones saying ‘you can’t always get what you want’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. I’m not really sure what the British version of ‘Pura Vida’ is, can anyone enlighten me?
It seems Costa Ricans have the right attitude towards protecting their country and embracing tourism in ways which won’t put their turf at risk. The main purpose of our trip is to see if Costa Rica really does do what it says on the tin. And if they are doing amazing things, we’ll be sharing how and why they do them – in an effort to inspire other countries to follow suit.
A massive growth in tourism – but is it sustainable?
Tourism represents 5.8% of GDP in Costa Rica. They have devoted an estimated 26% of their land to national parks, wildlife reserves and protected lands. In 2016, the entire country used no fossil fuels for over three months – an incredible achievement. And the government is aiming to take a page from Iceland’s book and attempt to run on 100% renewable energy.
Tourism here continues to grow at an arguably alarming rate, in 2016 there were 2.9 million visitors. But with this huge influx of tourists, is Costa Rica still managing to promote and maintain sustainable travel?
Travel companies are putting together eco travel based travel packages that are bringing in tons of tourists. But many of these tours just scratch the surface, and may not be as eco-friendly as they seem. On our trip, we’re going to experience real ecotourism, and see whether there’s still a future for green travel in a country that’s making its way to the top of people’s bucket lists.
Calling all wildlife lovers – this is the place to visit
One of the main things I’m excited about is the wildlife. Being so biodiverse, this country is a wildlife enthusiasts dream. There are wildlife sanctuaries everywhere, include the Sloth Sanctuary and Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. If you’re lucky, you can spot some truly rare and captivating animals here, from the evasive jaguar and Ocelot to Toucans, the infamous Poison Dart Frog (I might try and stay away from that one) and adorable Spider Monkeys. Costa Rica houses 8 biological reserves and 20 national parks – some of which we’ll get to explore I’m sure.
We are flying into Liberia airport and making our way down to the more remote and beautiful Osa Peninsula. Watch this space for another post detailing our proposed itinerary where you can get some handy Costa Rica trip planning tips on some of the best things to see and do. Oh, and do check out Eco Companion’s website. They’ve got some seriously luxurious eco accommodation as well as plenty of ahhhhmazing trips and life-changing experiences.