Costa Rican Holidays

Costa Rica holidays are usually packed with nature tours; visiting national parks, spotting unique wildlife, exploring lush rainforest, and of course trips to the beautiful Costa Rican beaches. Rebecca Puttock, CEO of adventure travel company, Wanderlux Global visited this biodiverse country recently, and found a fantastic opportunity to learn more, via her tour guide. Here’s what she had to say:

After an 11.5 hour flight from London, a smiley Costa Rican wildlife guide, Eduardo, meets me at San Jose airport. He offers me a cooling bottle of water and produces an itinerary that fills not only me with excitement, but very obviously him too. Eduardo has been in the tourism industry for more than 13 years - starting out as a taxi driver at the San Jose International Airport in 2001, before realising how much he enjoyed interacting with people from all over the world and deciding to become a guide. He’s done it for 13 years now, but tells me that he still loves it as much today as he did on day one.

I was eager to find out more about his country. The flora and fauna. The past, the present and the future. So I spent the next two weeks learning everything he could possibly teach me, as we both explored the deepest, darkest, depths of Costa Rica’s intense biodiversity. I wanted to find out more about Costa Rica so had a lot of questions, and Eduardo was very keen to answer them:

Costa Rican Macaws

Costa Rican Macaws

Rebecca: How would you best describe Costa Rica?

Eduardo: It’s fun. It’s safe. And it offers experiences that you really won’t find anywhere else. Having 4% of the worlds’ biodiversity concentrated in just 51,100 square kilometres, Costa Rica is truly a paradise for those who love wildlife. If you like nature, adventure, friendly people and sunshine, Costa Rica is for you!

What’s your favourite part of being a guide here?

Eduardo: I get my reward in that moment when I watch a client’s face light up as they discover something new. Something that blows their mind! A taste, a smell, a texture – when they realise they are experiencing something they have never lived before. 

Where would you consider Costa Rica’s best national park?

Eduardo: Corcovado National Park, according to National Geographic, is the most biologically intense place on earth. It is a place full of energy. Life is everywhere; on the branches, under rocks, on the creeks. Every single corner is incredible and vibrant.

Wildlife in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Zdeněk Macháček

Wildlife in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Zdeněk Macháček

What is your most memorable wildlife encounter?

Eduardo: Ok! Here, we have two different kinds of peccaries (a pig-like mammal); the white-lipped and the collared peccary. The white-lipped is know for being very aggressive. In 2010, I was assigned to a tour in one of the largest private reserves in the country. My boss sent me to scout the area before the group’s arrival. So, here I am on a trail, by myself, in the middle of the forest. Ahead of me, I see two collared peccaries, the friendlier of the species (or so I thought…). In the moment, I remained calm and enjoyed the encounter, with what I believed to be the friendlier of the species. Suddenly, the two individuals galloped away from me, and then… silence. They had disappeared into the distance. Five seconds of a false sense of security passed before the ground started to rumble. The whole pack was coming for me! I don’t think I’ve ever climbed a tree so fast in my life!

They never got me, but all of those years climbing mango trees as a child definitely helped. According to most locals, nature specialists and wildlife enthusiasts, they are not known for been aggressive, but I was not willing to put that to the test!

Are there any wildlife projects you personally and professionally support?

Eduardo: I have been collecting data - videos and photographs - of various wildlife species, some of which are endangered. I am sharing this information with a variety of researchers and scientists to help drive their projects and support their publications. Of course, I speak to international and local tourists every day too so I hope that I am able to continuously teach and promote the importance of sustainable tourism, reforestation, ecosystems and wildlife in our country. I also personally enjoy photography and my environment makes it easy to capture some incredible shots of some very rare species. All of this knowledge I use to educate locals and visitors, to preserve the richness of Costa Rica in terms of biodiversity. 

Playa Escondilla in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Atanas Malamov

Playa Escondilla in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Atanas Malamov

What future developments do you hope will improve eco-tourism in Costa Rica?

Eduardo: The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), is constantly trying to teach the benefits of ecotourism to as many locals as possible. There are programs that emphasise the development of the areas visited by travellers. I hope with the years, every child gets to have access to a more specialised education. Not just in terms of the regular curriculum subjects, but also to learn the importance of conservation and sustainability - so we can prove to the world that it is not just possible to develop a society in harmony with nature, but also to enable it to become a standard synchronicity for everyone in this country. 

What one piece of advise would you give to travellers coming to Costa Rica?

Eduardo: When traveling to Costa Rica guests need to keep an open mind, every single minute! Opportunities to experience exciting wildlife encounters are around every corner, offered at all times, everywhere. Oh, and keep the gear handy - cameras, binoculars. These have to be at the top of your day bag. You never know where or what will be your next discovery!

Scarlett Macaw in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Shannon Kunkle

Scarlett Macaw in Costa Rica. Photo Credit: Shannon Kunkle

- Book a holiday to Costa Rica via Rebecca at Wanderlux