Costa Rica preserves its wonderful environment.
This country is a virtual Garden of Eden
My wife Fyllis and I knew before we traveled to Costa Rica that the country has a well-deserved reputation for preserving its magnificent environment.
We were aware of the great diversity of landscapes and multiplicity of animal and bird life. But only after spending time in that virtual Garden of Eden did we come to fully appreciate that so much variety is compressed into an area only about the size of West Virginia.
In Costa Rica steamy jungles shift to cool alpine woodland.
As we soon discovered, the setting changes quickly and frequently in the compact Central American nation. A short walk can transport you from a dank, steamy Amazon-like jungle environment to a cool alpine woodland reminiscent of Switzerland. Both dry stretches of forest and pockets of verdant wetlands lie in the shadow of soaring volcanoes.
Seeking to experience as much as possible of what Costa Rica has to offer in the limited time available to us, we went there with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). As the self-styled “Leader in small groups on the road less traveled,” that tour company allows clients to pack as many experiences as possible into every hour of every day.
And packed with action and inviting alternatives every waking hour was for us. One day included a visit to an OAT-sponsored school, enjoying a traditional home-cooked lunch with a local family, and going on a guided horseback ride through dense forest. Another began with a hands-on tortilla-making lesson followed by viewing giant crocodiles at close range, then relaxing on one of Costa Rica’s beautiful beaches.
Outstanding animal watching and exploration of the unspoiled environment
Of course, much time was spent being introduced to the country’s major claims to tourism fame – the outstanding animal watching and exploration of stretches of the unspoiled environment.
Hotels, tour companies, and other travel vendors work hard to achieve the much-south-after Certification for Sustainable Tourism, which recognizes their commitment to that goal. In order to do so, they must certify that they are complying with rigorous standards which will help them, and Costa Rica, achieve its ambitious environmental objectives.
That’s just one part of the country-wide effort toward environmental protection. The fact is that little Costa Rica is moving toward carbon neutrality more quickly than any other country, and evidence of that effort is everywhere.
Almost all of Costa Rica’s power comes from renewable sources.
Environmental education is part of the curriculum for elementary school children, and environmental science programs are taught at universities. The other-worldly-like Monteverde Cloud Forest spills down both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes of the Tilaran mountain range. Its environment lives up to its name. Warm air rising from the tropical coastline condenses into a persistent fog and mist.
Adding to the wonder of Costa Rica are opportunities to spot wildlife that thrives in this inviting setting. Just one example: A sign at the entrance to the Monteverde Cloud Forest notes that 126 species of mammals and 448 types of birds make it their home.
Wildlife is a main attraction throughout Costa Rica.
A total of about different 850 kinds of birds have been spotted in the country, more than 600 of which are permanent residents. Over 1,000 species of butterflies dot the landscape with a myriad of colors. Fortunately, we escaped encounters with the 100 or so different types of mosquitoes that we were told find Costa Rica’s damp environment to their liking.
When Christopher Columbus arrived on the scene in 1502, he chose the name Costa Rica, or “rich coast,” because he believed that the land would yield a vast treasure of gold. However, the Spanish conquistadors who followed him soon realized they would not discover the mineral wealth they had hoped to find.
Visitors today discover a wealth of a very different, but no less intriguing, kind. They’re likely to leave Costa Rica, as we did, with fond memories of a magnificent natural setting, an extraordinary assortment of wildlife, and people who value and protect the riches that Mother Nature has bestowed upon them.
WHEN YOU GO. Our trip to Costa Rica with Overseas Adventure Travel included receipt of a copious amount of helpful pre-departure information, very knowledgeable local guides, and the ease of having all land arrangements taken care of. That company offers trips to destinations around the world, and limits excursions to a maximum of 16 people. For more information, log onto oattravel.com or call (800) 955-1925. For information about Costa Rica, log onto visitcostarica.com
After gallivanting throughout the United States and to more than 75 other countries worldwide and writing about what he sees, does, and learns, Victor Block retains the travel bug. He firmly believes that travel is the best possible education and claims he still has a lot to learn. He loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories about them have won many writing awards.