Ecotourism is a phrase that has been used with pretty much no regulations. The definition of ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". Ecotourism is when, taking all aspects of your trip, there is the least amount of impact on the environment and you leave knowledge that can help the local community and take knowledge back that can impact your life when you get home.
Ecotourism is a look into the simple way of life and a look at the what the world would look like if consumerism was not the ruling government of our time. Ecotourism is traveling on simple means but this does not mean you can not enjoy a luxurious Costa Rica eco-adventure. This simply means attention to detail is taken with regards to impacting the environment and local communities.
What ecotourism can do for the local community is often discussed. To be on a true Costa Rica ecotourism adventure you will need to somehow provide financial benefits for local conservation which by just traveling in an ecotourism trip you hopefully are making happen. You also want to build environmental and culture awareness. You want to educate and be educated on the many wonders of the natural area you will be traveling. You want to understand the web of life in the ecology of the area and if at all possible see and understand how the system works to supply and sustain life. With these simple understandings that most nature guides can interpret, you will get a true feel for a Costa Rica ecotourism experience.
Another label of ecotourism is to support the social climate for change in certain areas. Costa Rica is known as an ecotourism paradise. As a visitor from another country, your example and kind suggestions (e.g. telling a child not to litter) can make a positive impression.
A Costa Rica ecotoursim adventure trip should involve a number of different things from being educated, to maybe doing community service work, or even just relaxing in and around nature. If any activity can involve a local community you are staying true to your eocotourim roots. This can be simply having a local family prepare fruits or asking to stop at a local place to eat during your activity.
With the idea of ecotourism being as little impact on the environment as possible you can imagine that using alternative energy sources is the way to go. It is also very important that all local guides are being used. The ecolodge should have this in place upon arrival that guides from the local community have been trained and in return work for the lodge and money essentially goes back into the community.
If you are on an ecotourism adventure you can do some Costa Rica hiking in and around your ecolodge and if you are up for some real adventure gear your itinerary in the form of treking where you actually use no car and just hike to your next stop. This limits the different parts of the country you can hike but you can actually do a coast to coast adventure where you stay in local communities and some hotels and never use a car.
Costa Rica Whitewater Rafting
Now if you really want some excitement and some energy from the water cycle then Costa Rica is the perfect spot and whitewater rafting is the perfect activity. With the amount of rain Costa Rica gets every year and mountains that get as high as 13,000ft with a country that is only 50 miles wide you can imagine some of the best rapids in the world. Costa Rica whitewater rafting tours lend itself to some of the most ideal ecotourism activities. You can visit local indian reservations and learn about ancient cultures as you use the force of the water to make your way down the river.
Sea-kayaking can be done with very low impact to the environment and in Costa Rica sea-kayaks are often used in areas of mangroves, calm rivers, and the ocean. These are activities that can be done right from your ecolodge instead of traveling large distances from your lodge.
If you are staying at an ecolodge chances are if you wake up early in the morning you will have the option of seeing a number of different birds. Even if you are not a birder it is hard not to get excited about seeing some of the most beautiful animals Costa Rica has to offer. Everything from the Quetzal, macaws, and toucans make birding an exciting no impact on the environment activity.
Rappeling or Canyoneering
Looking for a little more adventure than you can try Costa Rica waterfall rappels or making your way down a Costa Rica canyoneering adventure. This is quite the adventure and both involve a bit of adrenaline. Some ecolodges you can hike from the lodge and make your way into a canyon but it invovles getting dirty and usually some vertical intense hikes.
This is a low adrenaline tour than can be very educational in flor & fauna of the area. The rivers are often good spots to see animals. Safari floats can be done in the mangrove or in calm areas of rivers.
Night hikes have become famous and if you are into seeing creatures that really dont want to see you than going out for a night hike is your best time for that. You will never want a local guide more than on a night hike as knowing where you are going and what to do when you encounter a large cat or a poisonous snake seems like just another walk in the park for a local guide.
Medicial Plant Tours
Medicinal plant tours can be found at many ecolodges and are a very important role in ecotourism. You are giving back by playing student and allowing the local guides to share their knowledge which just instills it in their community through repitition. When we say "WOW!" on a tour they are energized to go home and share it with their children. Our interest sparks a culture rejuvination which can last for generations to come and in certain rural areas when health care might not be minutes away it is amazing to learn what the locals can do with their native plants.
Local Community Tours
A local community tour can range from anything from you educating yourself in a Costa Rica Spanish schools and living in homestays and experiencing full immersion. A community tour can also be a daily hike through the local village outside of the ecolodge walls where just mingle with the people, learn about the local economics, and environmental conditions.