FAQ

Most of the people who come to me for travel planning advice specify that they are looking for non-glitzy, non-touristy, authentic experiences that benefit the nature and people of Costa Rica.

Most people don't know that there are now ecolodges that are OWNED by community conservation organizations in amazing natural settings. Just by visiting these community owned ecolodges, you are supporting rural people in their efforts to preserve their forests and rivers. Besides learning the secrets of the rainforest and swimming in pristine waterfall pools, you get the benefit of meeting Costa Rica's campesino conservationists, and becoming inspired by their love of nature and their dedication to preserving their traditional way of life.

Here are some questions that people often have about community-based ecotourism:

What is community-based ecotourism?

Short answer: Community-based ecotourism refers to lodges and tourism attractions that are owned by grassroots community conservation organizations. In these communities, tourism helps to conserve tropical forests, preserves local culture rather than destroying it, and helps farmers supplement their income so that they can stay on the land. More background information: When I first came to Costa Rica in 1971,...

What is the difference between community-based ecotourism and "regular" ecotourism?

Short answer: "Community-based" on this website means "owned by local, grassroots conservation and community development organizations that have their own rainforest reserves and build their own lodges and tourism attractions." "Regular" ecotourism is any ecotourism business not owned by community organizations. More background information: During the last 25 years, many Europeans and North Americans have been inspired to buy up...

Does community-based ecotourism involve doing volunteer work?

If volunteers are willing to make a substantial time commitment, then volunteer assignments are possible. But, mostly, just by visiting community lodges, hiking in their exuberant rainforest reserves, enjoying their delicious country cooking, interchanging ideas with the local people and becoming inspired by their conservation efforts, you are doing enough, knowing that what you pay for lodging, food and guided...

Does community-based ecotourism mean that we will be staying with local families?

Homestays are possible in some communities, but most of the communities on this website have their own lodges, with rooms with private bathrooms. Some have shared baths. Meals are included in the price of lodging....

Can I visit community-based ecotourism destinations just for the day?

Some places can be visited for just the day. For example, the trip by dugout canoe to La Casa de las Mujeres in Yorkin can be done for the day while staying in Cahuita or Puerto Viejo on the Atlantic; Los Campesinos Reserve can be visited just for the day from Manuel Antonio, Dominical or Uvita. Or you can stay...

Can I visit these destinations in my own rental car or by bus?

If you use the maps on this website, speak Spanish and are good at stopping and asking for directions, then going on your own is possible. There is no public transportation to most of the community-based destinations, but you can take a bus to a nearby town, and a taxi from there. Either way, you must make reservations in advance:...

What is ACTUAR?

ACTUAR, the Costa Rican Rural Tourism Association, was created in 2001 by grassroots conservation organizations in many parts of Costa Rica that had been funded by the UN Development Program to create their own community-owned ecolodges, forest reserves and adventure attractions. This means that finally rural communities are entering into the thriving ecotourism industry, using tourism to supplement rather than...
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