Ecoturismo? Con gusto!

Today was our first full day in Arenal. We began with an amazing hike in the rain forest with hanging bridges and poison dart frogs. Despite the name they were very small and mostly harmless. In fact, they were quite beautiful.

A key difference between the cloud forest and the rain forest are these dangerous animals. There is a MUCH greater abundance of poisonous animals in the rain forest than in the cloud forest. In the cloud forest we were told the main worry were green pit vipers. In the rain forest we were warned about a plethora of snakes on top of other wasps, scorpions, spiders, frogs etc.

Despite this the rain forests remain a top tourist destination due to the rich biodiversity. While the cloud forests in Montaverde have (relatively) few specifically adapted species, the rain forests are a more inclusive habitat and are able to house a LARGE variety of species.

Ecotourism is the main economy of Costa Rica. The country depends on wealthy tourists coming to spend cash and enjoy the natural beauty it has to offer. The pandemic challenged the way of life here for many people. With travel shut down there were no tourists coming into the country to spend money. This meant that money was being exported, but there was no income. Many places dealt with the differently. For instance Cafe Britt explained how they pushed their online platform in different countries to try and increase that market sector.

Biologist Alberto Rico Urones talked about how while the tourism sector was diminished, the “eco-” portion flourished. All of the animals in the different forests that were usually scared of humans were able to venture out further than before. This should have provided researchers with the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to study animals and make new discoveries without having to venture too far into the wilderness. However, international biologists were also unable to travel to Costa Rica. Most Costa Rican researchers were unable to move as well due to governmental restrictions.

While this opportunity did not exactly go to plan, we are still able to enjoy and learn about the different wildlife while we are here. It is important for us to understand and appreciate what we have so that we know what we have to lose.

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