Responsible travel: Costa Rica beach & wildlife holiday
Our Relaxing Costa Rica itinerary takes you to some of Costa Rica’s most dramatic and ecologically diverse areas, particularly Arenal Volcano National Park and the Monteverde cloud forest. Our partners who organise your trip on the ground represent 28 community organisations around the country which combine traditional ecotourism with community-based tourism, where visitors meet Costa Ricans who are conserving their forests and rivers and practising sustainable agriculture. As such, conservation is an integral part of all our holidays in a country which is the world leader in environmentally-friendly tourism.
All the accommodation options we offer in Costa Rica are very sensitive to their surroundings and many are located in rural communities, natural reserves, or indigenous territories which have not changed their way of life to adapt to the needs and tastes of mass tourism. They all meet our environmental criteria, including energy and water conservation, locally-sourced food and providing information to guests about ecological issues and how behave appropriately. You also have the opportunity to get more directly involved in community conservation efforts.
Many lodges go well beyond this, because the leading organisations in rural community tourism are also leaders in the protection of forests, water sources and endangered species. Using environmental education, community awareness campaigns and legal action, they confront the many threats to wildlife on a daily basis. They are involved in a large variety of other actions such as environmental education, watershed and forest protection, solar energy, organic farming and biogas production.
The money you spend on parks entrance fees goes directly to supporting national conservation programmes. In addition, your local guides on this trip are both accomplished naturalists in their own right and intimately familiar with the wonderful variety of Costa Rica’s nature. They are trained and knowledgeable about the impacts of tourism and will offer advice on how you can keep your environmental footprint to a minimum during your visit.
On this trip you do not stay at any community-owned lodges, but we have looked for hotels that meet our robust socially responsible policies i.e. that are locally-owned, which employ and provide training to Costa Ricans and which support local projects or charities. Many of the accommodations exceed these basic requirements - a good example is the Celeste Mountain Lodge in Tenorio National Park.
The Celeste has an enormous range of environmentally-friendly practices such as: using local and salvaged building materials, sensitive construction techniques, solar and innovative furnace heating, water bio-purifiers, eco-friendly cleaning products etc. But it also supports the community by getting involved with local decision making for sustainable tourism development; helping local entrepreneurs to establish tourism-related businesses; bringing language and professional training sessions to the community; hiring 90% of staff locally; buying 90% of their food from local businesses and farmers (especially organic); contracting local women for handicrafts to decorate the lodge and contracting a school to help with recycling and tree planting.
In addition, the profits made by our Costa Rican partner are reinvested in capacity building programs, promotional campaigns and micro-loans for their member communities. Each year they provide technical assistance and workshops on diverse tourism related activities, such as Creole cooking workshops, marketing skills or product development, as well as running a rural tourism fair to promote responsible tourism. Even the vehicles they use to get you around are part of a carbon-offsetting programme.