by Anjali Balakrishna
Photography by Noor Nassern
Imagine a temperate paradise full of lush vegetation, foggy rainforests and an abundance of exotic creatures: that paradise is Costa Rica.
The small but diverse Central American country is filled with adventure, mostly centered around nature, such as hiking up a volcano in Arenal, zip lining through the cloud forests of Monte Verde or leisurely strolling through a coffee plantation. It is no wonder that ecotourism is so pertinent to the economy.
Monte Verde is home to El Trapiche Tours, where coffee fanatics can discover the makings of the beverage.
Erick Rodríguez, tour guide and receptionist at El Trapiche, said they started the tour of the family farm 11 years ago to show the old-fashioned way to make brown sugar. Later, the farm introduced coffee and chocolate. According to Rodríguez, coffee is their biggest attraction. So, even if coffee is not your cup of tea, taste tests of chocolate and brown sugar may keep you coming back.
El Trapiche is a big proponent of ecotourism. They even say that their mission is “to show Costa Rican culture and traditions in ways sustainable for the community and the environment.” By showing tourists the lengthy processes behind their produce, they encourage a curiosity of non-commercial production.
Besides El Trapiche in Monte Verde, there are plenty of other locales that promote ecotourism.
Costa Rican native Boris Jurado left the country for Panama for four years, but upon returning to his home country, he moved to the small town of Sarchí.
“This is a very different experience than living in the city,” said Juardo. “It was a little difficult at the beginning to adapt…but once I learned to slow down, I started to see the beauty in it. People know each other, no [automobile] horns on every corner, [it is] clean [and] peaceful. I have to say that now I do not want to go back to the city of San Jose, or Panama.”
Back in Costa Rica, Jurado has found many places that show the beauty of ecotourism.
“Playa Uvita near Ballena National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park [and] Gandoca Manzanillo [are] also a few of my favorites,” he said. The native also recommended Bajos de Toro Amarillo, where “the waterfalls are beautiful.”
Generally speaking, Jurado said that those visiting Costa Rica “can expect friendly people [and] a beautiful, beautiful country that offers options to suit you. You can find adventure like canopy lines, rafting, bungee jumping [and] water sports. You can find amazing beaches, mountains, volcanos; you can have a taste of the Caribbean in Puerto Viejo and the Pacific in Guanascate.” He says that in spite of the poor roads, “you can have it all at a small price. That I think could be the most [surprising] aspect coming from another country.”
Despite the inconveniences of poorly crafted roads, the beauty of the country will amaze visitors. As Jurado put it, the most beautiful aspect of Costa Rica is “nature and the fact [that] we can appreciate it any time.”
If there is one thing that both Rodríguez and Jurado agree upon, it is that Costa Rica is a place filled with stunning nature and friendly faces.