Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ostional wildlife refuge

Turtles at Ostional (Photo by AFP news agency)The Ostional Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge of Costa Rica, part of the Tempisque Conservation Area, was officially created in 1984 but was originally declared a protected area in 1982, and its status has been changed several times since then, including covering a larger area both on land and out to sea.

It was created to protect important nesting beaches of the marine turtle Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive Ridley turtle) or Lora turtle as it is known locally. The best time to visit Ostional is just before and during an "Arribada". The best months to see the biggest "Arribadas" are between July and December.

During the "Arribadas" a few hundred turtles will come out on the beach with their stream usually continuing for the next three to seven days.

So many turtles come onto the beach in a short time span that most of the first nests are destroyed by later turtles. Therefore, in 1987, a project was initiated to allow local people the right to collect and sell a percentage of the eggs from the first three days of each arribada. This is the only place in the world where it is legal to harvest turtle eggs. This practice is designed prevent poaching and to help the local community.

"Arribadas" occur all through the year, at least once a month and, in some months, may occur twice. The months between June and December, during the rainy season, see larger "arribadas". That means that the number of nesting turtles may be in the range of hundreds of thousands as opposed to tens of thousands for the dry season months.

The ranger station at Playa Ostional is open from 8 am to 4 pm. Guided tours are available with bi-lingual park employees. Contact the ADIO (Asociacion de Desarrollo de Ostional) for more information. 506-682-0470 Costa Rica.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tapanti National Park

Tapanti National Park, sometimes called Orosi National Park, is a National Park in the Pacific La Amistad Conservation Area of Costa Rica located on the edge of the Talamanca Range, near Cartago. It protects forests to the north of Chirripo National Park, and also contains part of the Orosi River. The Pittier Ranger Station at Tapanti is open for visitor attention from 5am to 5pm. Hiking trails lead to scenic overlooks and picnic areas. Oropendula Trail and Pantanoso Trail lead to a swimming area with picnic tables and grills. La Pava Trail takes you to the Salto and Palmitas Waterfalls. Arboles Caidos Trail is a heavily forested nature hike. The La Esperanza de El Guarco Biological Station is in Tapanti National Park. It has lodging for up to 15 people, with water, restrooms, showers and electricity.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Junquillal Bay wildlife refuge

Junquillal Bay wildlife refuge, also called the Bahia Junquillal National Wildlife Refuge, is a wildlife refuge that is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area and the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste World Heritage Site in the northwestern part of Costa Rica. It protects areas of tropical dry forest and coastal mangroves. The wildlife refuge is open 24 hours with visitor attention from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Hiking trails, camping areas with water, restrooms and bathing facilities are available.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Costa Rica video - Costa Rica travel photography

Here's a Youtube video by Josia Jones showing a beautiful montage of photos of Costa Rica. Basically it's a photo compilation put together with a little recorded music on top for aesthetics. I hope you enjoy it!

Note: a high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch the video.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Costa Rica's national tree

The Enterolobium cyclocarpum, known more commonly as the "Elephant Ear Tree" in tropical regions of the U.S., is Costa Rica's national tree.

In Costa Rica its popular name is "Guanacaste," just as the province where it's more commonly found. Other popular names include Devil's Ear, Earpod Tree, Parota (Spanish), Huanacaxtle (Nahuatl).

This tree is widely grown as a shade tree to shelter coffee plantations and for shade and forage for cattle. It also improves soil fertility by nitrogen fixation.

The wood is lightweight (density 0.34–0.6 g/cm³) and water resistant, which is why it's used to make items such as doors, windows, furniture, cabinets, and for shipbuilding.

The seed, which is not eaten by any animals currently native where the tree occurs, is harvested and eaten boiled by many Mexicans while the seed pods are still green.

This deciduous, large foliage tree gets it's name from it's ear shaped fruit pod, which grows up to 10 cm (4 in.) in diameter.

It is a medium-sized to large tree growing to 25–35 m tall, with a short trunk up to 3.5 m diameter, and a broad, widely spreading crown. The bark is light gray, with dark reddish-brown vertical fissures.

The leaves are 15–40 cm long and 17 cm broad, the leaflets are slender oblong, 8–15 mm long. The flowers are white, 5 mm long.

The fruit is a large dark brown ear-shaped pod 7–12 cm diameter, containing 8–16 yellow seeds, 14.5–17.5 mm long, 7.8–11.2 mm wide, and 6.2–7.2 mm thick and weighing about 1 g; the pods take a full year to mature.

Information taken from wikipedia.

For more on the Guanacaste tree:
-Country Day School, Costa Rica: Enterolobium cyclocarpum
-Costa Rica's National tree at CostaRica.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

Costa Rica video - Early 20th century

Here's a nice video that shows photos of Costa Rica at the turn of the 20th century. This sepia images are very rare and depict what life was like in San Jose and other places of Costa Rica during the early 1900s. The music belongs to the Costa Rican group Editus, track is called "Memories."

Note: a high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch the video.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Costa Rica's Chocolate Tour

Artisanal chocolate place Chocorart. The ownerS bought abandoned cacao plantations many years ago not long after the main road to Manzanillo was completed, but before there was electricity in the area. You can book tours to visit the cacao plants, see the sugar cane, and then make your own chocolate.To experience chocolate in its purest form, visit the ChocoRart organic cacao farm and chocolate factory in Playa Chiquita, just south of Puerto Viejo, Limon.

Cacao once ruled the Talamanca region, but few plantations are left these days.

One friendly Swiss couple continues the tradition and gives you a Chocolate Tour of their working plantation where their cacao is harvested, fermented and cooked in the same traditional manner that the Mayan Indians used for thousands of years.

Sugar is added to the chocolate as are natural ingredients like ginger, coconut, vanilla and nuts.

Follow the the little-known life cycle of this crop from cultivation to processing. There's sampling at the tour's conclusion.

Tours are offered by reservation only. Call to reserve a tour (you need a minimum of four people) and to be picked up from the Playa Chiquita School. Since these folks are Swiss, they can tailor the commentary in German, French, or Italian, in addition to English or Spanish.

(Photo courtesy of acodring)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Costa Rica among the top 10 environmental destinations of the world

• The country was classified among the ten best destinations to live in

San Jose, Costa Rica (ICT) - Costa Rica stood out as one of the 10 most important destinations worldwide in environmental matter, according to the last edition of the Brand Country ranking, carried out annually by Future Brand Company.

The ranking was made public today during the World Travel Market Fair in London, one of the most important fairs in the tourist field. Costa Rica participates in the event with a delegation led by the Minister of Tourism, aimed at promoting national tourist attractions.

“I am very glad that Costa Rica achieved this kind of award as one of the environmental destinations worldwide and also as one of the places where people would like to live. This award is an honor and proud, but it also represents a big challenge," said Carlos Ricardo Benavides, Minister of Tourism. "We have to maintain a stronger sustainability policy, in order to achieve a planned, stable tourist development, without jeopardizing our natural beauties.”

To carry out this country brand survey, Future Brand takes into account those countries that rely, worldwide, on the strongest tourist brands within several categories. The company takes heed of parameters such as territory, country’s State, quality of life, safety, rural and urban area distribution, agricultural area, parks, topography and geographical and political borders.

For example, in the environmental category, where Costa Rica stood out, policies undertaken by the country to Project the environment are taken into consideration. Some of the nations included in the group are: Sweden, New Zealand, Singapore, Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, Germany and Austria.

As for the “Most Like to Live in” category, where Costa Rica was among the best 10 worldwide, aspects such as quality of life, government stability, climate, peace, tranquillity and safety are taken into account. Other countries included in the category are: New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, United Kingdom and Italy.

The Minister of Tourism pointed out that, in both categories, Costa Rica appears as the only country in Latin America included in the ranking, competing with developed nations.

Moreover, the ranking does not measure only tourist behaviour, but it also evaluates investment attraction, business environment, customer perceptions, meeting planners, executive frequent flyers, analysts, tourism associations in the countries and government members. Also, the survey establishes a balance between destination experience and nations’ marketing.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Arenal Volcano video

I found a nice video on Youtube depicting the Arenal Volcano and the Tabacon Hot Springs. The volcano and the spa are both located in the city of La Fortuna de San Carlos in Alajuela. These are two of the most popular touristical places to go to in Costa Rica. I hope you enjoy the video and if you really like what you see try to book a tour to both locations whenever you visit our country.

A high Speed Internet connection is recommended to watch the video.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Savegre River whitewater rafting

Photo by Shayne ClaussonRafting in the Savegre River is a full-day tour ideal for both the adventurous beginner and the experienced rafter. Along the way you will be astounded by the awesome canyons, waterfalls, and primary rainforest.

Experience a trip of pure unsurpassed beauty, luxuriant vegetation, and exploding whitewater. The Rio Savegre is a magnificent stretch of coastal whitewater that begins its course by winding out of a sparsely inhabited valley, covered with jungle vegetation.

The whitewater rapids are exciting, but not so demanding that you won't have time to enjoy the Savegre's spectacular tropical scenery. The Savegre River is one of the most pristine rivers in the country, and is surrounded by impressive views of the primary rainforest.

Lurking just behind the shroud of lush foliage, you will find a number of truly magnificent waterfalls. Stop for a break at some of the most beautiful waterfalls and swimming holes in the area surrounded by blooming heliconias in this shady Garden of Eden.

Keep your eyes on the rainforest as well since wildlife is abundant, as you float down the river in some of the calmer areas. Don’t miss this exhilarating ride through nature.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Carara Biological Reserve

Carara is one of Costa Rica's most popular parks, in large part due to its proximity to San Jose. This is also where many cruise ship's passengers are bused for a day trip when the liners dock just up the coast at Puerto Caldera, and a common destination for field trips by school children.

It is always hot and humid in the forests of Carara. Even during the drier season from late December through April when there is significantly less rain, transpiration keeps the humidity under the canopy near saturation. The wettest months are August to October when the trails near the river may at times be impassable because of flooding.

Carara is also a favorite with bird watchers. Carara has flora and fauna from both ecosystems (Tropical dry forest region to the north and the more humid Pacific Rain Forest to the south), and the virgin forest that covers the park is the ideal environment for such rare wildlife as the Scarlet Macaw the Collared Aracari and thee species of monkeys.

About 150 scarlet macaws nest and feed throughout the reserve and can usually be seen around dusk flying west down the Tarcoles River towards the coastal mangroves where they roost for the night.

What to bring: Long pants, hiking shoes, insect repellent, and water camera.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Four new airlines will fly to Costa Rica

(ICT) - Four new airlines announced their intention to include, among their connections, the Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in the province of Alajuela.

The first company to arrive will be Frontier Airlines, which announced its entry into the country in November. This airline, registered in the United States, will be flying from Denver, Colorado.

Another company which officially communicated its willing to fly to Costa Rica is a French airline, Air Caraibes, which announced that its first flight would be on December 11th, 2007.

Air Caraibes will be flying out of the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, (the French Antilles), which are the connecting centers to Paris and the rest of Europe.

The Canadian airline, Air Sunwing, is the third company requesting their flight operations certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority. This North American airline is willing to offer charters, cargo and mail services.

In Sunwing’s case, the exact date for the start-up of operations to the country has not been defined yet, but it has been confirmed that the airline will be using Boeing 737-800 airplanes to fly to Costa Rica.

Another company that has expressed interest in flying here is the Asian airline, Air China, belonging to mainland China’s government. Its interest in flying to Costa Rica came up in virtue of the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between both countries.

The arrival of these competitors will offer Costa Rican travelers new alternatives to fly to Europe, North America and possibly even to China.

Additionally, Delta Air Lines will establish two new routes from New York to the province of San Jose and to the city of Liberia, Guanacaste, beginning in February next year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cruise ship season in Limon begins

Photo by FortOgden.com(ICT) - The season for cruise ships in the Caribbean officially started with the arrival of the cruise ship from Carnival Liberty cruise lines, with the first three thousand tourists aboard who will be visiting the coast of Limón.

For this year, 138 cruise ships are expected to enter the port of Limon, in other words, 11 cruise ships more compared to the previous year. This represents a growth of 8.6%.

The president of the Chamber of Tourism in Limon, Noel Ferguson, said that for this season at least 200,000 people are expected, including tourists and crewmembers.

The arrival of the cruise ships represents an important source of income for the locals.

The mayor of the province of Limon, Eduardo Barboza, stated that for this year, security was reinforced with the presence of either 50 or 100 additional policemen, depending on the number of arrivals.

According to estimates from the Costa Rica Tourist Board, the country will receive 232 cruise ships for the entire season, which also includes arrivals to the port of Puntarenas.

The above represents an increase of 7.4% regarding the previous year meaning 216 additional entries. It is important to state that the cruise ship season runs from October 2007 to April 2008.

(Photo by FortOgden.com)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Poas Volcano National Park

The Poas Volcano is in central Costa Rica. There are two crater lakes near its summit. Poas has erupted 39 times since 1828.

The volcano is located within the Poas Volcano National Park. It is considered the largest active crater in the world, about 1 mile (1.6 km.) wide and 320 meters deep, with frequent geyser-like eruptions.

Near the volcano's active crater, there are lakes of molten sulfur, thought to be the only examples of their kind in the world.

Lake Botos fills an extinct crater and is home to many cloud forest birds like hummingbirds, tanagers, flycatchers, toucanets, clay-colored robin and the resplendent quetzal.

This is one of the most spectacular volcanoes of the country and of extraordinary scenic beauty. It has many types of habitats like very long forests with short trees, areas with very little flora and some with little smelly plants and also the cloudy forest. Poas volcano national park is one of Costa Rica's most visited places by national and international tourists.

What to bring: Tennis shoes, shorts or jeans, jacket, camera.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Manuel Antonio National Park

Manuel Antonio National Park is the home of the endangered Squirrel Monkey although White Faced and Howler monkeys are also common in the park. Playa Manuel Antonio is one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica and has been rated one of the top ten in the world.

This park is just south of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, 132 km from San José. Perhaps It is so popular because of its expensive white sand beaches backed by an evergreen forest that grows right up to the high tide line.

There is quite a varied fauna with 109 species of mammals and 184 of birds. The park includes 12 little isles just off the coast; there are a number of dolphins and, at times, migrating whales can be observed

Let an experience nature guide take you on a hike thru beautiful Manuel Antonio National Park.

What to bring: Shorts, swimming suit, Tenis shoes. Insect repellet, camera.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Butterflies and orchids tour

(ICT) - With the purpose of promoting tourism in the province of Alajuela and offering a new and different product to tourists, the Butterfly Farm located in the Guacima de Alajuela and the Botanical Garden of Orchids in La Garita, joined their efforts to offer a new combined tour: Butterflies and Orchids.

The journey begins early from any hotel in San Jose directly to the Butterfly Farm where the visitors walk among thousands of butterflies flapping their wings all around.

The tour continues to the Botanical Garden of Orchids, located 10 minutes from the Butterfly Farm. This place offers the opportunity to walk through exotic gardens and observe the beauty of a great variety of orchids. Tourists can also learn about the cultivation and natural history of these flowers. The tour ends with a lunch at Cafe Vanilla located inside the gardens.

After lunch, the buses leave towards the different hotels in San Jose. The tour is for all ages. For more information please call (506) 438-0400.

(Photo: Butterfly in Costa Rica. Shot taken by Dave Cross)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Get to Costa Rica for less than $400

By Clara Bosonetto Maerz
For the Journal-Constitution

When you stop to think about it, if you capitalize on some of the hot airfares that pop up during the week, you can visit many parts of the world at a fraction of the regular cost.

Take today's extraordinary value on American Airlines of just $370.42 to San Jose, Costa Rica — and that's inclusive of all taxes, fees and fuel surcharges (piled on top of a base rate of $166).

To land this deal you must travel in each direction on Fridays-Sundays. Oddly, mid-week travel days of Mondays-Thursdays are priced higher at $470.42, inclusive. A rate of $420.42 is available on a combination of peak and off-peak days.

This sale rate requires at least a one-week advance purchase notice and stays of any two nights. Trips must be finished within 120 days of departure, or by Feb. 12, whichever date comes sooner.

Naturally there are blackout dates to avoid. Trips to Costa Rica are not permitted Dec. 15-26 and returns from Atlanta are not permitted Jan. 1-8.

With a one-week or more advance purchase notice, travel round-trip to San Jose with Delta Air Lines at inclusive rates of $470.42.

This rate is valid on trips taken seven days a week. Plan to stay at least any two nights. The maximum stay is 60 days. Plan to depart through Feb. 12. Trips are not permitted at this rate from Dec. 7-Jan. 15.

Buy tickets on American or Delta through midnight, tonight (9/25).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hampton Inn will increase its capacity

(ICT) - The Hampton Inn & Suites, located in front of the Juan Santamaria International Airport in the province of Alajuela, inside the Airport Boulevard complex, which currently has 100 rooms, is waiting to receive the necessary permits enabling it to initiate the construction of 80 new rooms.

This enlargement, which is estimated to be concluded by the end of July 2008, represents an investment of 5.5 million dollars and will generate approximately 20 new jobs.

“We are waiting for the permits in order to start constructing immediately,” stated Luis Montero, Director of Operations from Grupo Marta, who added that this Project is a top priority, because the hotel needs to increase its capacity to be able to satisfy the demand of its clients.

Part of this plan also includes other upgrades to the hotel, such as extending the cafeteria, renovating the gymnasium with better equipment, as well as beautifying the gardens with native trees from Costa Rica.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Picture of the day

Sunset in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Taken in August 2006 by Blue Oak Photos.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tourists arrival to Costa Rica increases 6.4 percent

(ICT) - The arrival of tourists to Costa Rica increased by 6.4 percent during the first six months of this year compared to 2006, according to statistics provided by the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur).

The statistic is based on the number of visitors who arrived to the country through the main airports: The Juan Santamaria International Airport, located in the province of Alajuela and the Daniel Oduber International Airport, located in Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste, approximately 170 kilometers from San José in the northwestern part of the country, nearby the main beaches of the Pacific Coast.

From January to June a total of 832,604 foreigners visited the country, versus 782,346 tourists who entered Costa Rica in the same period for 2006, for a total growth of 50,258 tourists, of which 595,405 arrived at the Juan Santamaria International Airport, stated the President of Canatur, Gonzalo Vargas, during a press conference.

The President also added that the Juan Santamaria Airport increased by 3.14% while the Daniel Oduber Airport grew almost 16%. Even though statistics are not official yet, they help in providing an idea of the trends that this sector is experiencing.

“The statistics fill us with optimism. In fact, the closing date for the first semester of this year exceeds the expectations of the national plan which estimated a growth of approximately 5% for this year,” stated Vargas, as he pointed out the arrival of new airlines coming to the country as one of the reasons for the growth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Iberia expects to carry 150.000 travelers between Madrid and San Jose

(ICT) - The Spanish airline Iberia is planning to carry 150.000 travelers during the year in its direct route Spain-Costa Rica and vice versa.

The airline announced that by June 1st, it will offer seven direct flights between Madrid and San Jose.

This route allows Iberia to have more than 6.100 seats available monthly, just in the one way trip, namely double the amount it had in 2004 when it first entered the region.

Currently, the company offers direct flights exclusively on Sundays along with other six routes between Costa Rica and Spain, but with stops in Panama or Guatemala. This would be the first time for a European airline to have daily direct flights to Costa Rica.

In addition to this expansion, the company will also keep three weekly flights from Spain to Guatemala and Panama, for a total of 10 flights per week to the isthmus.

Silvia Cairo, Director of International Sales for Iberia, explained that the interest in having direct flights to Costa Rica is due to the tourism dynamism and business potential between the country and the European Union (UE).

Cairo indicated that the airline expects to carry perishable products and become a leader in carrying business passengers.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Osa Peninsula: beyond Corcovado

Osa Peninsula offers a variety of attractions, including the Corcovado
National Park


(ICT) - For instance, the Danta Corcovado Lodge is a cozy shelter built with the least impact on the farm where it is located, consisting of 21 hectares, 12 of them representing forest area. In fact, the wood comes directly from a reforested area, with the specific purpose of using the timber forest. Moreover, the warmth of this lodge enables visitors to feel as a part of a big family, as if they were at home.

Another amazing attraction is the Cobo farm, where visitors can enjoy the spectacular chocolate tour. This farm uses several types and techniques of cultivation, combined with forest sectors that enable the protection and conservation of many animals, such as the white-faced monkeys.

The major cultivation of the farm is chocolate, a product that everybody knows and enjoys. However, many people do not even imagine what goes on behind the plantations of cocoa. The production of chocolate is a work of art.

Osa Peninsula is located south of the province of Puntarenas. It is home for a patrimony of wildlife species, most of which is protected in eight natural parks and reservoirs.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Costa Rican scientists find new coral species in Coco's Island

(ICT) - Costa Rican scientists have discovered a species of coral in Coco’s Island that has never been seen before.

It is a soft coral with a bright yellow color, about four centimeters high. It lives embedded in the marine rocks at a depth between 15 and 25 meters.

The information was released by experts of the Investigation Center of Marine Sciences and Limnology (Cimar) of the University of Costa Rica.

The coral was discovered in the year 2006 in the surrounding waters of Coco’s Island and it has not been named yet by the experts. According to the scientists, the species belongs to the kind of coral that is not rocky but soft, namely Leptogorgia, and to the family Gorgoniidae.

The new species of coral functions as a home for communities of microorganisms and helps to tie up rocks together.

Due to its texture and composition, it serves as food for the fish, revealed Odalisca Breedy, scientist and specialist in soft corals from Cimar.

Moreover, the scientists declared that, for the first time, almost a hundred marine organisms never described before in the investigations in Coco’s Island have been detected.

Among the new species found on the island, there are close to 30 seaweed, 20 sea worms, a new kind of coral, approximately 20 sponge species, which have never been studied before, as well as new sea stars and sea cucumbers.

Like the coral, the species detected on the island could also be new species worldwide, but the experts do not dare to assure it yet.

Coco’s Island has been a Natural Patrimony of Humanity since 1997. The island relies on 16 forest rangers belonging to the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), with shifts of up to 30 days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

El Punto Guanacasteco video

Today Costa Rica celebrates the Annexation of Guanacaste. All around the country Ticos commemorate Guanacaste's decision to join Costa Rica instead of Nicaragua in 1824.

Fiestas in Liberia, Guanacaste, and other provinces include parades, cattle shows, bullfights the Costa Rican way, concerts, folk dances and more.

The music on the video is called el Punto Guanacasteco, a traditional Guancastecan dance. The peculiarity of this dance is that it's often stopped to let the dancers shout the traditional "bombas," short verses that usually deal with Costa Rican women and the Costa Rican life.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rafiki: Costa Rica's own African refuge for Tapirs

Rafiki is a family owned lodge. It was established in Costa Rica by The Boshoff family. They started the project in 1999 in hopes of using tourism to build a wildlife refuge and Tapir re-introduction program. The first stage of the project, the lodge and cabins, was completed in December of 2002.

Currently the lodge sees travelers from all over the world. Their contributions have helped develop the nessecary contacts and cultural understanding to undertake the second stage of Rafiki.

Stage 2 of Rafiki is to build a fence around about 60 acres of forest, construct a Veterinary facility, and begin the process of attaining and transporting tapirs. The animals will come from captive environments, but will hopefully one day roam free through the Savegre Valley.

Currently there is a corridor designated for tapirs, El Paso de la Danta, which passes through Rafiki's property. This means that Rafiki is not an ecological island, making our released animals very important to the genetic diversity of the tapirs of Costa Rica.

The philosophy of Rafiki's project is of South African in origin. Essentially, through the use of tourism as a means to generate capital, animals can be given a second chance where local hunting pressures and loss of habitat have decimated their populations.

The tourism that enters the area generates employment opportunity in both the project itself, and also in expanding local economy. Rafiki is highly involved in the local community and will be providing scholarships to aspiring student who choose to pursue careers in eco-tourism, biology, veterinary sciences, or any such related fields.

With the help of the travelers that visit, Rafiki serves as an example to other projects in Costa Rica and around the world, showing that sustainible tourism is a viable means to protect and restore the ecology of a given location.

If you have any questions about the wildlife refuge or the Tapir re-introduction program, please write to info@rafikisafari.com.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Twenty thousand people per year visit the Guayabo archeological monument

According to data from the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT), the Guayabo Archeological Monument, located by the skirts of the Turrialba volcano, approximately 19 kilometers from the town that carries the same name, in the province of Cartago, receives 20,000 visitors per year.

The area consists of 217 hectares and although the archeological area has an extension of 15 to 20 hectares, only a small portion has been excavated.

These excavations, initiated in 1968 by the Costa Rican archeologist Carlos Aguilar Piedra, brought light to aqueducts, staircases, paved roads, tombs, rock engravings, sculptures, and hillocks. It was declared National Monument in 1980.

Recently, several businessmen, along with the Government and the Municipality introduced the Tayutic Foundation, an initiative aimed at uniting efforts to promote cultural tourism and rescue this monument.

Artistic and gastronomical workshops, a compilation of legends and cooperation with the surrounding indigenous towns are part of the proposal, which began only three months ago.

The Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides, emphasized on the importance of promoting cultural tourism in this region.

The purpose of the Tayutic Foundation (Tayutic: Heliconia Caribea in Latin, meaning Yellow or Golden Heliconia Flower in indigenous language), is to convert the region into a model of cultural tourism. The first part of the plan is to offer artistic workshops to the communities around Guayabo.

The foundation also tries to compile legends and recipes from this region to later publish them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Costa Rica nominated for the World Travel Awards 2007

(ICT) - Costa Rica has been nominated for the World Travel Awards 2007 in several categories, including:

• Central & Latin America's Leading Beach: Jaco Beach
• Central & Latin America's Leading Dive Destination: Catalina Islands, located in the North Pacific region of Costa Rica.
• Central & Latin America's Leading Watersports Resort: Occidental Grand Papagayo Hotel
• Central & Latin America's Leading Destination: San Jose, Costa Rica

The World Travel Awards in the industry of tourism are equivalent to the “Oscars” in the movie industry. It is the most prestigious and complete recognition in the world travel industry.

These awards were established in 1993 with the purpose of recognizing and celebrating the excellence of world travel and the tourism industry through thousands of votes from professional travelers of 160 thousand agencies in more than 200 countries worldwide.

The America's Awards Ceremony will take place in New York on September 17, 2007; while the Annual World Travel Awards Gala Ceremony will take place in Turks & Caicos Islands on December 12, 207.

The selection of nominees is based on previous annual votes and on the recommendations of professionals from the travel industry.

For further information, and to see the complete list of nominees for Latin and Central America click here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Delta announces non-stop New York to Costa Rica flights

Delta Airlines announced the addition of direct flights to San Jose, Costa Rica from John F. Kennedy International airport starting on February 15, 2008.

Delta will also fly to the Daniel Oduber International airport in Liberia, Costa Rica from John F. Kennedy International beginning on February 16, 2008.

The added flights are part of Delta's expansion of nonstop flights to Central America and the Caribbean, that include Panama City, Guatemala and Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago.

"New York-JFK is Delta’s leading international gateway, and these new flights will serve the almost five million Latin Americans who have made this city their second home,” said Glen Hauenstein, executive vice president and chief of Network and Revenue Management.

To celebrate these new flights from JFK, Delta is offering special one-way fares (round-trip purchase is required). Customers should act fast, however, as tickets must be purchased by July 12, 2007, with travel completed by April 30, 2008.

Guatemala City, Guatemala - $159
Liberia, Costa Rica - $179
Panama City, Panama - $179
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago - $199
San José, Costa Rica - $159

Delta already operates three direct flights from Atlanta, Georgia, to Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria International airport.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Beach in Puerto Viejo, Limon

Beautiful picture of Puerto Viejo, Limon in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The picture was taken on July 15, 2006 by Samiq, a Costa Rican flickr user with a Canon PowerShot A510. To watch more photos taken by this guy click here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Villa Caletas: a jewel above the crashing sea

Villa Caletas is located near the tourist town of Jaco, in the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, on a jungle hilltop.

Villa Calletas combines the truly unique concept of both mountain and seaside resort. Its location and design offer seaside breezes along with the mountains air freshness.

Its exceptional hilltop location more than 1150 feet above the ocean, combined with turn-of-the century style, gives Villa Calletas a unique position among the resorts, hotels and restaurants of Costa Rica. A jewel above the crashing sea.

From each side of the mountain, rain forests spread to the sandy, quiet beaches below. The dark, emerald green of the vegetation contrasts with the blues of the Pacific Ocean. Views of lush tropical rainforests complement some of the most breathtaking sunsets you will witness. At the bottom of the mountain, Villa Caletas offers its own private beach.

The tropical setting receives constant, cooling breezes from the Pacific. The spectacular 360 degree panoramic view offers an unsurpassed vista of the Nicoya Peninsula, gulf islands, the crescent beaches of Jaco, Herradura and Punta Leona as well as the mountains.

Its vast, deep-blue pool with an “infinity” edge creates the illusion of being one with the ocean. Adding to its splendor are a miniature waterfall, an island of tropical plants, and natural-rock facing. Serenity reigns at this magnificent pool area, in keeping with the atmosphere all around the hotel.

Villa Caletas has two restaurants with bars: the open-air EL MIRADOR, and the enclosed Amphi Theater. In both restaurants, the chefs prepare international dishes. Views of the coastline complete the dining experience, changing to memorable sunsets with the evening meal.

Relax over your favorite drink and enjoy the most incredible 360-degree vista of the Nicoya Gulf. Seating 150 people, the Greek-style structure with Ionic columns schedules classical concerts at certain times of the year.

Activities:
Caletas Beach
Caletas Horseback riding
Carara Biological Reserve
Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos
Volcanoes
Mangrove and Crocodile Adventure
Canopy Tour
Sea Kayaking
Rainmaker Private Reserve

For prices and more visit the hotel's Web site

Monday, May 28, 2007

Costa Rica snorkeling is worth extra effort

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), endangered species, and fish swimming over reefs off of Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Photo by Flip Nicklin for Getty Images.By ANDREA SACHS, Washington Post

Coast Rica's coastline touches the Pacific and Caribbean, yet its shallow waters are hardly teeming aquariums. "Snorkeling is not off the beaches like in Belize," says Orlando Burgos, owner of Costa Rica Travel Guide (877-786-6826, www.costaricatravelguide.com), which specializes in Latin America. "You need to journey a little bit."

Burgos adds that while many of the country's resorts have beach access and snorkeling, the best look at marine life requires a drive or boat ride.

Some of the best snorkeling, for example, rests inside national parks. Manuel Antonio, on the central Pacific coast, has pockets of good snorkeling, such as in the tidal pools of Playa Espadilla Sur and around the coral reefs of Playa Manuel Antonio. In Cahuita, on the Caribbean, snorkelers can explore a coral reef aswarm with sea fans, tropical fish, green turtles and other critters.

Cocos Island, nearly 345 miles off the Pacific coast, is the ultimate underwater experience. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has been compared to the Galapagos Islands. Reaching the park, which has no accommodations, is an adventure unto itself: The boat trip from Puntarenas can take up to 36 hours. For a less arduous adventure, take a snorkel tour to the Murcielago Islands in the Guanacaste region, along the northern Pacific coast. The islands are rife with whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins.

If you plan to spend most of your time in mask and fins, stay in the Tamarindo region. Tamarindo Diria Beach and Golf Resort (www.tamarindodiria.com), for one, is a four-star property that offers three-hour snorkeling tours. Barcelo Langosta Beach (800-227-2356, www.barcelo.com) includes snorkeling equipment in its all-inclusive price, and guests can snorkel off the beach or see more vibrant sea life on a tour. For more information: Costa Rica Tourism Board, www.visitcostarica.com.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Costa Rica Sand Fest 2007

The Costa Rica Sand Fest will be celebrated on the 28th and 29th of April, 2007 at Coco Beach, Carrillo, in the province of Guanacaste.

The sand fest is an eco-tourism festival held outdoors with world-renowned exhibitions of sand sculptures, concerts, and exciting entertainment shows, as well as a food fair and an environmental educational agenda.

The event will also offer art and craft exhibitions, photography, paintings, books, sports tournaments and activities for children to enjoy.

Another goal the event aims at is to clean the beaches of the Gulf of Papagayo.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Costa Rica cloud forest video

Here I share with you some images and video from Costa Rica's cloud forests. Images of tree ferns, bullet ants, Stained Glass Palms, leaf cutter ants and cloud forest vistas are also shown. Video by Hila Science Video. I hope you like this relaxing video.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Frontier's Costa Rica service to begin November 30

(AP) - Frontier Airlines says it will start flying between Denver and San Jose, Costa Rica, this November –- a move that comes after the Department of Transportation approved the low-cost carrier's application to fly the route.


In addition to its U.S. service, Frontier also flies to eight Mexican resort cities including Cancun and Puerto Vallarta as well as two cities in Canada.

Frontier's Costa Rica flights are scheduled to operate four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) beginning Nov. 30.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Liberia airport's tourism to increase during low season

(Inside Costa Rica) - The tourism sector in Guanacaste is predicting that there will be an increase of between 10 and 15% more tourists coming into the Daniel Oduber international airport in Liberia, during this low season.

Tour operators in the region say they expect an increased number of flights into the airport.

During the period of April to November 2006, some 100.000 tourists arrived at the Liberia airport, increasing almost 20% during the month of December and last month (the high season) over the same period in 2005-2006.

The aiport registered 86.800 tourists in the period between December 2006 and March 2007, while the previous year the number of tourists was 71.900.

Mauricio Cespedes, director of the Guanacaste Tourism Board - said "there is optimism in the numbers increasing as the North American vacation season is getting underway".

Another reason for the increased number of tourists if the average number of weekly flights into th airport. During the 2006 low season the average was 26, this year there will be an average of 32 flights a week.

Analive Rosales, administrator of the Daniel Oduber airport, added that in addition to the scheduled airlines coming into the airport, two charter operators will begin operations next month.

Currently, American Airlines, Delta, Continental, US Airways and United Airlines all have daily flights directly into Liberia from all parts of the United States.

In the past, tourists had to land in San Jose and then bused to Guanacaste, adding hours to their final beach destination.

Beginning May 7, the British airline, First Choice Airways, will be making its first stop at Liberia. First Choice will be offering regular fliths every Monday direct from Gatwick, London, until October.

Rosales said they have their sights on 200.000 tourists for 2007, up from the 187.000 arriving in 2006.

To achieve that goal the airport is undegoing an expansion. Rosales said that the government is getting ready a bid for the start of construction of a new terminal by December, which will be ready one year later.


The Guanacaste Tourism Board estimates that each visitor spends an average of $2.200, while visitors to the Juan Santamaría International airport in San Jose leave behind $1.400. Last year 187.067 tourists left behind more than $411 million dollars.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Costa Rican quetzal in Cerro de la Muerte

Costa Rican quetzal picture taken by Chris Fagyall with a Nikon Coolpix 995 in Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica

Monday, April 16, 2007

Costa Rica among the most "up and coming" honeymoon destinations

According to travel experts Costa Rica and Belize are two of the most "up and coming" honeymoon destinations right now.

The Conde Nast Bridal Group's American Wedding Study points out that Costa Rica is a great spot for active couples. It's well known for its zip line (canopy) tours, which send visitors swinging through the forest's treetop canopy via a cable and a harness - not to mention the great surfing.

In Belize, honeymooners can also tour the jungle, swim under waterfalls and explore ancient Mayan ruins.

"Traditionally people go to the beach, now people are trying to do something a bit different," according to Theresa DiMasi, editor in chief of brides.com, "and eco-tourism is becoming more and more popular."

For the less adventuresome, the Four Seasons Resort in Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo has plenty of other options, including two beaches, a fully equipped spa, and a championship golf course as well as four restaurants and a lounge all on the premises. (Rates start at $650 a night.)

In pursuit of the exceptional, honeymooners spend twice as much - over us$5,000 on average - and stay twice as long, than the average U.S. vacationer, according to the study.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Exploring the Braulio Carrillo National Park

Spanish tourist Vascillio Goded and his wife Monserrat Diviu explore Costa Rica's Braullio Carrillo National Park, east of the capital of San Jose, Wednesday, April 11, 2007. The park offers short trails that give a fascinating window into tropical nature. With at least 6,000 species of plants and over 3oo species of birds the Braulio Carillo National Park possesses a tropical splendor and magnificence that set it apart from the rest of the country. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Arenal Volcano eruption

Picture of Arenal Volcano in Alajuela, Costa Rica taken by Scott Harris with an Olympus E-10. This volcano is by far the most active volcano in Costa Rica as well one of the most active in the world with daily eruptions.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Costa Rica creates card to help tourists

Tourists in Costa Rica can now carry a small card containing the number of a hotline they can call to make complaints as well as get information on the currency exchange rate, Costa Rica's best beaches and other travel tips.

"The goal of the hotline is to provide fast, effective information to visitors, mainly foreigners, so they don't necessarily have to go to one of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) offices," said Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides in a statement.

The 24-hour hotline, 800-TOURISM or 800-TURISMO, will have English-speaking personnel attending tourist concerns. In addition to the hotline, the back of the card has a list of phone numbers for emergencies, including those of several countries' embassies.

ICT has printed 90,000 of these small blue cards, which are being distributed at the Immigration area of Juan Santamaria International Airport, just north of San Jose. They will soon be available at the Daniel Oduber International Airport in the Guanacaste city of Liberia, and the institute hopes to offer them at ports and land border crossings, Benavides said.

Also in the works are plans to print the card in Braille and print similar information on flyers to put in rental cars, the statement said.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Taca Airlines announces directs flights between San Jose and Santo Domingo

The Central American Airline TACA announced new direct flights to and from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic starting from next April 2007.

TACA’s spokesperson, Claudia Arenas, explained that the route between San Jose and Santo Domingo is scheduled to begin on April 15 with four flights per week on Airbus 319, with a seating capacity of 125 passengers.

The president of TACA Airlines, Fernando Naranjo, stated that the company’s goal with the San Jose-Santo Domingo route is to promote the integration between Central America and the Caribbean.

Naranjo stated that three targets will benefit the most from this route. Firstly, businessmen traveling between Central America and Dominican Republic. Secondly, tourists, mostly Europeans, who visit the island and then connect to Central America, and, last but not least, the Central American residents who wish to travel to the Caribbean for pleasure.

The Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Costa Rica, Adonaida Medina, stated that this direct flight will give an impulse to tourism in both countries, since it will offer Europeans joint promotional packages.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Creature comforts redefined in Costa Rica

Photo by Dean MerrillSerenity of home exchanged for volcanoes, exotic wildlife and forests of Costa Rica

By Dean Merrill
Special to the Register

Tropical rain forests, beaches, active volcanoes and exotic wildlife: That's Costa Rica.

This tiny Third World country is sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America, just north of the equator.

After searching the Internet last fall, my wife, Elaine, and I came upon an all-inclusive 10-day adventure sponsored by Caravan Tours. The cost for the trip, excluding airfare, was $995, a true bargain.

We boarded our Continental Airlines jet in Des Moines and set out for San Jose, Costa Rica, via Houston.

We arrived in the capital city of San Jose midday discovering an unkempt city of congested narrow streets lined with small homes and businesses. Buildings were wrapped in razor wire, and steel bars protected windows and doors.

As we were soon to learn, however, the tourists' Costa Rica awaited us outside the city.

We experienced the adventure of our lives.

The first two nights, we stayed in a private cabin in the middle of a primary rain forest with howler and white-faced monkeys swinging overhead and wildlife such as crocodiles, caiman, sloths, iguanas, lizards, poisonous frogs and a countless variety of birds surrounding us.

We stayed at the foot of an active volcano the next two nights. We arose early in the morning and caught the rare sight of the volcano erupting and rivers of red molten lava flowing down its side.

Finally, we stayed for two nights on the Pacific Ocean where we sipped tropical drinks, watched surfers negotiate thundering waves and watched a pair of scarlet macaws snuggling in a tree overhead.

The Costa Rican people, called Ticos, are friendly to American tourists. The official language is Costa Rican Spanish, but you can generally communicate with them in English. Prices are reasonable even in areas frequented by tourists.

You haven't really tasted fresh fruit until you've been to Costa Rica. It's picked ripe from the tree, sliced and served. Overflowing platters of fruit are always available for breakfast, and fresh fruit juice and smoothies are always offered with lunch.

Bottled water is available, but unlike most Third World countries, tap water is safe to drink in hotels and restaurants.

If you decide to explore Costa Rica, park your expectations and demands at the airport.

It is a Third World country, after all, and is best left for the adventurous. But if you're willing to experience a different culture and maybe give up a little bit of creature comfort, then you'll forever remember the "nature" of Costa Rica.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bird-watchers set sights on Costa Rica

Photo by Kathy Adams ClarkBy GARY CLARK

Would it surprise you to learn that some of the favorite places to watch birds in Costa Rica are at small roadside eateries?

In the central mountain range north of San Jose, on the highway between Vara Blanca and San Miguel, sits the Mirador de la Catarata San Fernando, meaning balcony overlooking the San Fernando Waterfall.

The cafe's backyard overlooks a mountain slope that plunges 500 feet into a misty forest from which emerges a seeming multitude of birds. Hanging from the back balcony are a dozen or more hummingbird feeders. Bird feeders placed in the yard below are stocked with papayas and bananas.

Hummingbirds like the green-crowned brilliant and violet sabrewing buzz right in front of your face while the emerald toucanet and silver-throated tanager drop from the forests to the bird feeders. Neither binoculars nor cameras can take it all in as bird-watchers race from one end of the balcony to the other.

Locals know the place as Vera's, for the woman who runs it. Vera Gonzalez an ever-present fixture, offering fresh-brewed coffee and platters of homemade tortillas filled with melted cheese. The bird-watching tourists are happy to drop the requested $5 in her tip box.

Another favorite roadside place is Comida Tipicas Miriam. It's on a dirt road to San Gerardo in the Talamanca Mountains near the Pan-American Highway south of San Jose.

Miriam Prado's backyard overlooks a mountain forest. She fills bird feeders with table scraps, fruit and rice, attracting yellow-thighed finches, black-cheeked woodpeckers and rufous-collared sparrows.

Brightly colored fuschia bushes on the porch attract tiny beauties like the volcano and magnificent hummingbirds. A nearby tree is the showoff spot for the long-tailed silky-flycatcher with his lemon-yellow head against a blue-gray back.

Although a portion of Mirian's modest home serves as a small cafe, many visitors stop just to see the birds. In return for her hospitality, they leave behind the requested $1 tip.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beautiful Costa Rican sunset

Those who frequently visit my blogs already know that I am a big YouTube fan. I constantly browse YouTube in search of videos of Costa Rica worth sharing with you. This one here I think fits that description. It is a 51-second video of a sunset in Costa Rica combined with relaxing music that makes you wish you were there. Unfortunately the author of the video didn't mention where exactly in Costa Rica this video was shot. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

Note: The 51-seconds video that used to be here was removed because its owner disabled the embedding option. If you want to see the video now you have to access it from the youtube link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhN_InWoKsU

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Costa Rica leads Latin America in tourism competitiveness

(Photo: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images)By Uri Ridelman

Although it ranks 41st globally, Costa Rica has the most attractive environment to develop the travel and tourism industry in Latin America followed by Chile (45th) and Mexico (49th), according to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2007, released on March 1 by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum.

According to the first-year report, which evaluates 124 countries worldwide, Costa Rica was the leader among the 18 Latin American countries measured.

The report evaluates factors and policies that make it attractive to develop the travel and tourism sector in different countries. Some of the 13 categories evaluated in the report include safety and security, health and hygiene, air transport infrastructure, human capital, and natural resources.

Costa Rica led the index in two categories: presence of rental companies and primary education enrollment. Other strengths of the country are in the area of natural resources (ranked 12th on the percentage of nationally protected land areas), and airport infrastructure (it ranked 11th in airport density).

The report also concluded that Costa Rica's tourism policy rules and regulations are very conducive to the development of the sector (ranked 17th), with open bilateral Air Service Agreements (ranked ninth), low visa requirements (ranked 15th) and an environment that welcomes foreign investment (ranked 27th).

However, safety and security remain a concern (67th). And while tourism infrastructure is quite well developed (36th), ground transport infrastructure remains highly underdeveloped (93rd), particularly roads and ports, making travel in the country somewhat difficult.

For example the country ranked 102nd in port infrastructure, 105th in railraod infrastructure and 108th in road infrastructure.

Other problems made evident by the report were: the business cost of crime and violence where Costa Rica ranks 93rd, the ticket taxes and airport charges (ranked 84th) and the incidence of Malaria in which it ranked 80th.

The rest of Central America didn't fare as well as Costa Rica as none of them managed to finish in the top 50. Panama ranked 55th, Guatemala 69th, El Salvador 77th, Honduras 87th and Nicaragua 89th.

In the Caribbean area Barbados was the top ranked country (29th worldwide), followed by Jamaica (48th), Dominican Republic (50th), Trinidad and Tobago (85th), Guyana (100th) and Suriname (108th).

In South America Uruguay (56th in the world) and Brazil (59th) followed Chile's lead. Argentina came in at 64th, Colombia finished 72nd, Peru 81st, and Ecuador ranked 97th. Venezuela (99th) , Bolivia (109th) and Paraguay (111th) are the three worst-ranked Latin American countries. Cuba, Belize and Haiti were among those not included.

Worldwide Switzerland, Austria and Germany have the most attractive environments for developing the travel and tourism industry, according to new index. Iceland, the United States, Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom complete the top ten list.

Article written using a press release provided by the World Economic Forum.

Note: To access the full profile of Costa Rica (in pdf format) click here. To access the full summary of the report (in pdf format) click here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Number of tourists arriving at Liberia's terminal increases

(ICT) - The Daniel Oduber Airport located in the city of Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste, received close to 20 percent more tourists in the last 12 months, according to the results of a survey conducted in January of this year, in comparison to the total amount registered in the same month of last year.

Approximately 180,112 tourists arrived at the Liberia terminal between the month of February of the year 2006 and last month, meanwhile from February 2005 to January 2006 there were a total of 150,926 registered passengers.

The arrival of visitors at the Liberia terminal started this year 2007 with a strong head start, during the year 2006 there was an increase of an 18% compared to the year 2005. In January this year 22,230 passengers arrived at the terminal, representing 24% more than January last year, where there were a total of 17,877 tourists.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

First Choice Airways will initiate flights to Costa Rica

(ICT) - The British Airline, First Choice Airways, will inaugurate a direct flight in May from the Gatwick Airport in London, England to the Daniel Oduber Airport situated on the Northern Pacific side of Costa Rica, specifically to the city of Liberia, in the province of Guanacaste.

The Company will offer its service during the British vacation season, which has its peak in October and it will transport a total of 258 passengers directly to the terminal in Liberia, Costa Rica.

The Company has already started to promote Costa Rica as a tourist destination on its Web page, as well as its beaches and volcanoes and it offers a special rate of 471 euros (equivalent to 612 US dollars) with all-inclusive service.

First Choice Airways is a charter airline, owned by the British tour operator, First Choice Holidays. The Company flies from the Manchester Airport and from London to more than 60 destinations in the world.

The Company is considering the possibility of flying from Glasgow, Scotland, to Brazil and Costa Rica starting in the year 2009.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

1300 new trafic signs for tourism

Photo: (Philippe Colombi/ Getty Images)(ICT) - The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) in agreement with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT) will invest more than 300 million colones in 1300 new traffic signs for tourism purposes.

“We would like natives and foreigners who visit the country to be able to find tourist destinations in a quick, safe, and reliable way, with the help of proper street signs, which also comply with international standards,” stated the Minister of Tourism, Carlos Ricardo Benavides.

According to the first part of the agreement, these are the areas in which the new traffic signs will be positioned: the coastal area in the province of Guanacaste, the Peninsula of Nicoya, the Barranca-Peñas Blancas route, the San Jose-Limon route, the most traveled routes of the Caribbean region, and the National Parks located in these areas.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Slideshow added to Tico Travel

Flickr Slides tool by LabpixiesToday I added to Tico Travel a neat widget made by Labpixies.com that I found on Google. It's a tool called Flickr Slides and it allows you to look at Flickr photos from your own Web site or blog.

You can choose to display the slideshow by user name or tag and you can even choose the refresh span of the pictures (from 5 to 60 seconds).

It is a very cool and useful tool because you can choose to share your latest vacation photos if you have an account with Flickr or, like me, show random photos on a specific subject from people you don't even know.

These are all pictures with the tag "Costa Rica," and I have to admit that none of them was taken by me nor belongs to me, therefore as far as I know I don't appear in any of the picures.

However, if you recently visited Tiquicia and have friends that have a Flickr account, dont be surprised if one of these days you see yourself in one of the slides. Enjoy the show!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

$5.7 million for Limon

The Costa Rican Tourism Board and the Atlantic Port Authority announced the allocation of $5.7 million to improve tourist facilities at the Port of Limon, on the Costa Rican Caribbean. The goal is to improve the attractions for the passengers of cruise ships calling at Limon during the current cruise season, that started last October and continues through next April. Some 139 ships and 240,000 passengers are expected during that span. (Photo by Paolo Agnelli)

It's refreshing to see that this government is doing something for the province of Limon. It's no secret that most presidential administrations often forget about the Caribbean region and direct most of the attention and funds to the Guanacaste and Pacific areas. It might not be enough but it's a start.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Costa Rica traveler's video guide

I found this interesting Costa Rica documentary on YouTube.com. It's a film of about 60 minutes divided in six 10-minute parts. I think that if you are seriously considering a trip to Costa Rica you might as well look at this film to have an idea of what is awaiting you here. I embedded part one of the movie. Just click the play button to start the film. If you like what you see then you can watch parts 2 to 6 following the links that I added. Hope you like it!

Note: A high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch these videos!




Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Friday, January 26, 2007

Birds of Costa Rica: the hummingbird

Hummingbirds are small birds known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, 15 to 80 times per second (depending on the species). Capable of sustained hovering, the hummingbird has the ability to fly deliberately backwards or vertically, and to maintain position while drinking from flower blossoms. They are named for the characteristic hum made by their wings.

Hummingbirds are attracted to many flowering plants, especially those with red flowers. They feed on the nectar of these plants and are important pollinators, especially of deep-throated flowers. Most species of hummingbird also take insects, especially when feeding young.

Hummingbirds are found only in the Americas, from southern Alaska and Canada to Tierra del Fuego, including the West Indies. The majority of species occur in tropical Central and South America, but several species also breed in temperate areas.

Most hummingbirds of the U.S. and Canada migrate to warmer climates in the northern winter, though some remain in the warmest coastal regions. Some southern South American forms also move to the tropics.

Costa Rica's Channel 7 reported on hummingbird feeders in Monteverde, Puntarenas. To watch the video click here. (Sorry, video available only in Spanish)

Here are two links to stunning photographs of Costa Rican hummingbirds:Glenn Bartley Nature Photopgraphy

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Parrita mule festival 2007

Many years ago a few farmers from Parrita began with the practice of mule races nearby Esterillos Beach in the Mid Pacific. The hobby that started out as way of having fun has become the Parritta Mule Festival, one of Parrita’s most popular traditions.

Parrita’s Welfare Association has devoted itself to consolidating this tradition, reinforcing the festival with the two-horse races and tractor rally. It is expected to have one of the most colorful festivals taking place within the last years carried out in 2007, hoping to receive national and international tourists so they can get to know one of the funniest races carried out in Costa Rica.

The 2007 festival will run from January 25 to february 04, the day the awaited Mule Race takes place. In addition everyday there will be: livestock and agricultural machinery show, craft sale, ‘corridas de toros’ (bullfights), typical food, karaoke, dances, and the atmosphere of the “ La Mulita Alegre” bar.

For more information, call: 779-8245 (in Costa Rica)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Coffee picking in Orosi

A coffee picker carries freshly harvested coffee beans on a plantation in Orosi, the east of the capital San Jose in this December 28, 2006 file photo. Central America's coffee harvest is at its peak, and the impact of labor shortages that blighted farms in recent years has eased, thanks to smaller crops, wage increases and orderly ripening. Picture taken December 28, 2006. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate/Files (COSTA RICA)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Surfing in Ostional

A tourist surfs at sunset off the beach at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Olive Ridley hatchlings in Ostional

Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings crawl over one another on the beach at the Ostional Wildlife Refuge on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2007. The Olive Ridley hatchlings that survive will return to the same beach to lay their eggs when they are mature adults. Approximately 12 percent of the hatchlings are expected to survive and become adults.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)