Ethical Bloggers Promoting Ecotourism in Costa Rica – Campaign Summary
When we think about ecotourism in Costa Rica, we immediately imagine pristine beaches, rich rainforests, stunning wildlife, landscapes and national parks. But what about people, food and culture? Can conscious travellers visit Costa Rica and experience local food and culture in a truly authentic way? Can they connect with the locals and have a proper cultural exchange? This was the main focus of our first conversation with Hannah, the founder of the Ethical Influencers Network, a “collective of influencers & creatives who believe in sustainability, fair trade, transparency, and living an ethical lifestyle”. Our social business model caught her attention when she was carrying on some research on ethical tourism, and after a couple of skype meetings, we decided to work together to give more visibility to a few, outstanding initiatives doing a great job in the field of sustainable tourism. We picked Costa Rica as the most suitable country, and we hosted Hannah, as well as ethical bloggers Kasi and Simone, last December. The campaign #ethicalinfluencersxsumaktravel was born, and what follows are its highlights.
Innovative Costa Rican gastronomy
The welcome activity was a foodie tour in the capital city San Jose, for a couple of reasons. First, because Costa Rican gastronomy is widely underrated, and what travellers get to taste on a standard trip is actually pretty basic and sometimes boring. Second, because there is a food revolution happening: a bunch of local chefs rescuing ancient recipes, using local ingredients and ‘farm to table’ approaches, creating stunning, innovative dishes that would captivate any food lover. The setting was trendy Barrio Escalante, where we started with a craft beer tasting, before moving on to wonderful Al Mercat for a ‘farm to table’ meal, including some signature dishes by its chef Jose Pablo. Then we walked to La Cafeoteca for a coffee tasting and presentation, where we learnt everything about the history, types and processes to produce high quality Costa Rican coffee. To find our more, you can read Kasi’s post in our blog: What I Learned About Slow and Sustainable Food in Costa Rica, as well as Simone’s article for Mochni: 3 Best Vegan Eats in San José. The girls stayed at lovely Hotel Boutique Luz de Luna in Barrio Escalante, which has the restaurant Luna Roja, part of the innovative Costa Rican gastronomy movement.
Finca Sura: Organic farming and rural tourism
It was time to see where these organic and traditional ingredients come from, and to get deep into rural Costa Rica. Our brilliant guide and driver, Jose Pablo, picked us up early in the morning to start a road trip towards Sarapiqui, in the north of the country. After a couple of hours passing through green mountains, mighty rivers and cloud forests, we arrived in Finca Sura, an organic farm which also offers accommodation in lovely cabins. Their specialty is organic pineapple, but they have lots of other products such as cacao, sugar cane, vanilla and even tilapia (fish farming). For travellers, the activities go from birdwatching (lots of toucans) to chocolate workshops, including farm tours, trekking and wildlife watching (monkeys, iguanas, sloths, frogs and more). To learn more, you can read Simone’s post in our blog: Finca Sura – Tourism and Organic Farming in Costa Rica; as well as Hannah’s post on her blog Life+Style+Justice: Sloths, Toucans, and Trees that Walk: how Sumak Travel changed my perspective on DIY travel. The pictures in the gallery below will also give you a taste of the rural activities you can enjoy at Finca Sura.
Homestays in Juanilama Rural Community
Time for a cultural immersion. After another 2-hour transfer through tropical landscapes, we were welcomed by the members of the rural community of Juanilama, located near the Arenal Volcano. We had an organic farm tour, a walk to a waterfall in their nature reserve, a handicraft workshop, cooking lessons, and lots of fun! After dinner there was a party, during which the kids from the local school performed a colourful presentation of traditional dance. Then the group divided and we went with different host families, to have the chance to experience a campesino lifestyle first hand. It is always encouraging to see how tourism can have such a positive impact on rural communities and the environment, while at the same time be an outstanding and rewarding experience for travellers. Read it from Hannah’s post in our blog: The Juanilama Community – Rural Tourism in Costa Rica, and check the pictures in the gallery below.
A shy volcano and partying in San Jose
On the way back to San Jose, we stopped for trekking and horseriding excursions in the Arenal Volcano. Although the beautiful cone-shaped volcano was completely covered by the fog, both excursions were great fun and exciting, and we ended up enjoying mojitos and gin tonics in the hotsprings. Back in San Jose, a surprise was awaiting: a pub crawl with Carpe Chepe in their ‘party bus’. During the tour, Marcos (Carpe Chepe founder) shared his vision of San Jose (a.k.a. Chepe), a city often under-rated by tourists. We were impressed by the art and other urban movements, and by the good energy of the places we visited. Read it from Kasi’s post in our blog: What I Learned About Urbanization in Costa Rica, and from Hannah’s Conscious City Guide of San Jose, Costa Rica on her blog. It’s evident that San Jose deserves to be considerer more than a stopover city, and we welcome the launch of the city brand by the municipality: #SJOVive.
The need for more conscious travellers
If you are a frequent reader of our blog, you probably know we invest a lot of energy and efforts in promoting sustainable tourism initiatives like Juanilama and Finca Sura, all over Latin America. We also work hard to innovate and create tours and activities that allow travellers to connect directly with local people and nature, in authentic and rewarding ways. Anything from foodie tours to multi-day treks with indigenous communities in remote areas. All these efforts would be pointless if there were not conscious travellers like Kasi, Hannah and Simone; travellers ready to go off the beaten path, to learn from and interact with the locals, to visit remote locations while contributing to their preservation. The world needs more travellers like them. Reading their posts, looking at their pictures, hearing their feedback, seeing how they promote ethical brands and a fairer world, motivate us to keep working hard.
If you are a food lover visiting Costa Rica, contact local specialist Foodie Tours CR for great city tours and excursions. And stay tuned for more adventures!
About the bloggers:
Kasi writes about ethical fashion for the mainstream consumer at thepeahen.com. Simone writes about ethical fashion at The Ethereal Edit and at Mochni.com. Hannah writes about ethical and sustainable living at lifestylejustice.com. She is also the founder of the Ethical Influencer Network – a global community of writers and creatives committed to promoting conscious consumerism.
See more pictures from the trip on Instagram: #ethicalinfluencersxsumaktravel