Costa Rica has a new national brand

Costa Rica’s new national brand aims to attract new foreign investments. After five years, Costa Rica unveiled its new brand, “Essential Costa Rica.” Many commercial promoters of Costa Rica hope that combining Costa Rica’s well known and established tourism brand with its exports and foreign direct investments opportunities will boost the country’s international competiveness. It also involves the promotion of exports and foreign investments. The new brand is the result of collaboration between public and private sectors. According to Costa Rican advertisers it stands for the four essential characteristics of the country and its people: authenticity, sustainability, pride and humanity. From 2014, the brand will be used in international campaigns and tourism fairs.

Foreign Trade Minister Anabel González says that there is an enormous synergy between promoting tourism and promoting exports. Most people have a good and positive but uncompleted image of Costa Rica. In recent years, since its entry into international tourism branding in the mid-1990s, Costa Rica’s economy hast developed into innovative in Latin America. Tourism Minister Allan Flores believes Costa Rica’s goal to grow sustainable tourism by an annual rate of 5 percent is more realistic than ever, because now the country’s commercial sector is united under a common brand.




Costa Rica’s Forest continues to grow

The world loses about 13 million hectares of forest annually, nearly 4 million hectares in Latin America. The increase in deforestation causes serious social and environmental problems, such as the lack of drinking water sources, reduced crop yields, soil erosion and biodiversity loss.

Costa Rica is the only Latin American country to reverse this trend. Costa Rica’s forest cover reached more than 52% of its territory in 2012 – an increase of nearly 1% compared to 2005. One of Costa Rica’s environmental goals is to be a carbon-neutral country by 2021. The reproduction of forest is a great and important step to reach it. With this plan first of all Costa Rica wants to reduce carbon dioxide, then tries to preserve biodiversity and thirdly, which is probably the most important measure, Costa Rica wants entirely protect their water sources. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation has been fundamental to Costa Rica’s reforestation success. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation encourages reforestation primarily by funding sustainable tree farming projects for the timber industry.

A very effective initiative, which the Costa Rican government has launched, was the Forestry Credit. Since 1987 companies and individuals’ can provide environmental services to request resources to finance their projects. Due to this measure more and more people decide to keep their forest and property and use it as equity instead of not using it at all.

In 1996, Costa Rica launched the Payment for Environmental Services Program, in which the National Forestry Financing Fund pays the owners of forests or forest plantations to protect the environment. Furthermore businesses and other organizations can purchase Environmental Services Certificates, which serve their corporate social responsibility strategies and whose resources help finance the Payment for Environmental Services Program.

Authorities expect to have 7,500 hectares of land reforested and add 100 new farming and forestry companies to the PSA program by the end of 2013 – this is great step to protect our environment!

Through sustainable tourism you can further help to protect our environment and our planet.


Circus “Circo FantazzTico”

The “Circo FantazzTico” is a social project based on training circus art, founded by the association “vida nueva” about eleven years ago in San Isidro, a city in the south of Costa Rica – one of the poorest regions in Costa Rica. It uses circus pedagogic as a way to offer preventative help for socially deprived children and teenagers. The most artists are young people, often youth between twelve and eighteen years. Most families in San Isidro are very poor and the kids there hardly have leisure activities – some of them don’t have any chance to live a better life. Many leave to the drug mafia, where money can be made rapidly, but as everybody know, this kind of business is extremely dangerous. Therefore the Circo FantazzTico project was set up to help young people.

The idea is to create a secure place for children and youth with social difficulties to teach them corporal abilities and social competence. This circus covers the entire spectrum of disciplines, from juggling to acrobatics, allowing the kids to develop confidence in themselves and in the group and to develop team work skills plus a sense of responsibility. Moreover, the importance is not placed on individual success but in detecting and improving the capacities, strengths and talents of each, in order to achieve success as a group. A show that is prepared and brought to success by the whole group improves self-esteem as well as group consciousness.

This year the circus-crew is travelling in Europe for the fifth time in Europe – for the young people, the journey is something very special. It provides a safe starting point in which young people can develop their interests and abilities. For them the Circo FantazzTico is a way to make something out of their lives, to bring sense to their youth and to see more parts of the world as most of the other youth from San Isidro, and to develop skills to live from later on through training, talent and hard work. But only the best young artists of the circus were allowed to come to the nearly two -month European tour, which began with two exceptional performances in Germany.

The performance is based on the literary work “Marcos Ramirez” of the Costa Rican author Carlos Luis Fallas. The book is about a boy who tried his best but often got disappointed. He hoped for a world of solidarity. The plot is taken up in an amusing way, but acrobatics and juggling still dominate.

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Natural wonder “arribada” Ostional

At the beach of Ostional in the Nord-West of Costa Rica nearly once a month an incredible biological wonder happens. The week before new moon thousands sea turtles come to a specific place of the beach at Ostional to dig a big hole and lay their eggs into the sand.

Some days (or sometimes a week) before the Arribada, many turtles stay in the water, waiting until the “Arribada” begins. Afterwards thousands of sea turtles come out of the water on the beach to lay their eggs. The arribada usually takes 3 – 7 days.

Sea turtles at Ostional nest throughout the whole year but the best time to see this natural wonder is from July to December, during the rainy season. At this period the arribada happens regularly once and sometimes even twice a month. Furthermore the number of nesting turtles is much higher during this period than in the dry season month. The largest arribada which has ever been seen in Ostional, took place in November 1995, where approximately 500.000 sea turtles came ashore. Usually the turtles come at night to be protected from their predators but during an arribada the start coming ashore soon after the sunset and even often during daytime as well.

Sea turtles move on the beach until they get over the high tide line, so that their eggs are protected from the sea. Afterwards they use their flippers to dig a big hole to lay around 80-120 soft, flexible white eggs. When finished, they use again their flippers to pour sand over it to protect them from predators like vultures, crabs or as well jaguars. The whole process takes about 1-2 hours. During an arribada nesting turtles leave up to 10 million eggs on the beach of Ostional in Costa Rica.

Surprisingly, the beach of Ostional is the only one in the world, where harvesting turtle eggs is not illegal. The reason is that Scientists found out that most of the eggs laid in the first nights are destroyed by other sea turtles within the next days. Therefore local people of Ostional are allowed to harvest eggs within the first three days of an arribada. Sea turtle eggs are a delicate in some regions – the price for 200 eggs is about $10. In return the community of Ostional cleans the beach, help the turtles and protect the beach from poachers.

Usually the baby turtles hatch at night within 45-55 days but sometimes you can see baby turtles hatching during day time, depending on the temperature – usually they prefer coolness. As soon as the baby turtles struggled out of the sand, they smell the breeze and instantly run to the ocean. People, who want to help the little cute turtles, should not carry them all the way, because they need to run to develop their lungs and flippers, but they will appreciate a bit of support. But the little turtles still are not save in the ocean – a lot of other predators like sharks or crocodiles. The most dangerous predator of sea turtles is still the human species. Usually only 0-5% of laid eggs will survive and grow to an adult turtle. Those who managed it, remember their home beach and will return after many years to dig a nest and lay eggs, like their mother did.

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Puppet theatre project in schools

From personal convictions, and to give future clients of Amadeus Travel the opportunity to experience and admire the natural beauty of Costa Rica we have committed ourselves again and again on many different levels for the preservation of our precious environment. One such project is the financing of puppet shows with the theme “Recycling” at various elementary schools in Costa Rica.

The project has the aim to educate children about the prevention and reduction of waste generation as well as the use of reusable materials as they have little or no knowledge about recycling. The theatre group “Los Muchachos del barrio” directed by Cristian Amador has tailored its program to children of different age groups and has dedicated more than 17 years towards this responsible task. The basic idea is that the children at the end of this performance see the topic of waste separation and reduction with different eyes, take new ideas back home, and this is slowly changing the thinking within the family.

The actors of the theatre group perform with a lot of dedication, professionalism and this is evident from the pleasure at every performance. For the children, who often come from very poor backgrounds, a visit of the theatre group beside the learning curve is usually a very welcome change in their daily lives.

The project has already been successfully carried out at the following schools:

– Escuela Tranquilino Saenz: San Juan de Santa Barbara
– Escuela y children Green Bridge: San Juan de Santa Barbara
– Escuela de Sarchi Norte: Alajuela
– Escuela Curubande: Guanacaste

So that the children can successfully implement their newly acquired knowledge, these schools are supported by Amadeus by providing large containers for waste separation within the school grounds.

The Costa Rican Tourism Institute ICT supports Amadeus in an exemplary manner.
Big thanks from this site to the ICT and Canatur.DSCN2358 untitledPuppet theatre project in schools

20-year anniversary of the research station “La Gamba”

In 1991, the Austrian musician Michael Schnitzler started using Austrian donations to purchase the southwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica near the lowland rainforest to protect it from exploitation and destruction – a project called “the rainforest of the Austrians”.

The two Viennese biology students Werner Huber and Anton Weissenhofer were attracted by this project and went into the fields to search for primary, pristine, rainforest. In the end, they were successful, but it was quite hard for them. Both are now scientists at the Department for Tropical Ecology and Biodiversity of Animals at the University of Vienna.

And so in 1993 the two made their way back on to Costa Rica. They got support from the “Rainforest of the Austrians” and could buy a small house near the small village of La Gamba, not much more than a shack. But it is located quite near to the rain forest, with around 3,000 different species of plants, one of the most biodiverse in the world. On one hectare, as studies have shown in recent years, there are up to 180 different species of trees throughout the region, there are 600 different species of trees – in Austria, there are just 50.

The interest in the station rapidly rose. Therefore, in 1996, the station moved to a bigger house, directly adjacent to an area of ​​primary rainforest. Further they began with the installation of a botanical garden, with a numerous groups of plants, such as tropical plants, as well as bromeliads and heliconias collections, an orchid house and a beehive houses. Finally, in 2000 a new apartment was built that can accommodate 40 people. Since 2007 there is also a laboratory.

Without the “Rainforest of the Austrians”, which is part of the 150 square kilometer National Park, Piedras Blancas, the station would not exist, says Schnitzler. The “Association for the Promotion of Station La Gamba” was founded, which owns the research station since 2006 and since then membership fees, donations, sponsorships and contributions are used to fund the station. In addition, until 2011 there was a base subsidy Ministry of Science for the station, which now comes from the University of Vienna.

Around 4,000 overnight stays are recorded each year in the research station, it provides scientific instruments for students. Researchers from Austria and other countries have the opportunity to research projects or to do internships. More than 90 theses have been completed in the station, according to Weissenhofer and also numerous books and publications appeared, not only in the field of botany and zoology, but also from the fields of ecology, conservation, sociology and anthropology.

In order to improve the link within the local population, a social fund was established by the station, which helps children from La Gamba to finish school. Schnitzler says the connection between the “Rainforest of the Austrians” and the research station is quite excellent.

On December 5th the 20-year anniversary is celebrated at the University of Vienna. Furthermore, a book will be published, which describes experiences of the last 20 years of the tropical station.

Costa Rica nature facts and the rain forest of the Austrians

Costa Rica has an extremely high biological diversity of plants, animals and landscapes. The country is located in the Neotropics. With a land area of ​​about 51,100 square kilometers and an area of ​​589,000 square kilometers of territorial waters, Costa Rica is one of the 20 richest countries in biodiversity on earth. The two coastal and mountain regions have a variety of microclimates that are one reason for the abundance of various ecosystems of the country. The detected 500,000 species of the state are 4% of the world’s species adopted. Large sums (nearly 300.000) of the 500,000 species are insects.

Climate protection, nature conservation and forest protection are viewed as a very important part of public policy and are implemented consistently. Loggers had cleared about 80 percent of the rain forest in the 1970s and 1980s, but nowadays more than 50 percent of the country is covered by forest again. To protect the forest, Costa Rica has successfully implemented ecotourism. Due to this measure, locals benefit as well as environmentally conscious travelers. About 1.5 million tourists spend around 1.5 billion dollars yearly to get the chance to visit Costa Rica’s beautiful rainforests.

Around 27% of the land in Costa Rica is protected. Currently there are about 160 protected areas as biological reserves, national parks and nature reserves. There are 26 national parks scattered all over the country with very different characteristic features. To protect the country, In order to protect the country in 1969, the first national park – Santa Rosa – was established in the northwest of the country on the Pacific Coast. Simultaneously, a National Park Authority was created, but first had neither sufficient funds nor personnel resources to effectively protect the park against farmers and settlers.

Thanks to the private initiative “Rainforest of the Austrians” [Regenwald der Österreicher] the situation has now gotten significantly better. Through conservation initiatives 99 square kilometers (nearly 67%) of the Esquinas rainforest are property of the national park. The remaining 48 square kilometers are still privately owned but will be acquired in the following years and incorporated into the national park. The association funds the hiring of two rangers and supports reintroduction projects for endangered animal species and social projects in the community of La Gamba. The Station La Gamba itself will provide a contribution to explore and study the tropical rainforests.

Costa Rica closes public zoos – but where will the animals go?

The Government of Costa Rica has recently announced the closing of all public zoos. The Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center will be closed firstly and then converted into a botanical garden and a park. All captured animals should either be released into the wild or continue living in government shelters.

René Castro, Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment, described his motivation for this project. Castro explains that he himself kept a parrot as a pet, feeding him enough and gave him lots of love. But one day other wild parrots came, and for the first time his pet had the chance to leave and joined the others. Since that day, he lives entirely in freedom.

Now all other animals that have been living in zoos, should be released. The country operates a very strict environmental policy. For some time, wild animals are already prohibited in all Circuses. At the End of 2012, Costa Rica further prohibited the hunting of wild animals as a sport, which is highly praised by many other countries and environmentalists.

However, the closure of the zoo is not only associated with benefits and praise. Many environmentalists and animal rights activists are pleased with the project, partly because of the poor living conditions in some zoos. But many Critics claim that many of the currently captured animals could not survive in the free wilderness. Furthermore all animal shelters and animal rescue centers in Costa Rica are totally overloaded. Recently, some were forced to reject animals, because no more capacity was available.

Since the new Animal Welfare Act it is in fact forbidden to keep wild animals as pets. Therefore many people in Costa Rica are forced to bring their pets into animal shelters. Many of these institutions are now trying to expand their capacity and explore volunteers. Randall Arguedas, a veterinarian of the zoo in San Jose, says further that many animals have injuries and some have lost completely their natural instincts – survival in the wild is simply impossible according Arguedas.
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Dengue fever in Costa Rica

Dengue fever is a viral infection that is transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. The disease is also known as bone crusher fever and may take up to ten days after the mosquito bite occur. In severe cases, the virus infection lead to death. The number of deaths is due to early detection and medical care is relatively low. Approximately 2.5 percent of severe cases (about 500,000 per year) are fatal.

The disease starts as a flu with high fever. There are at least two of these symptoms: severe pain in the head, behind the eyes and muscles. Affected also often complain of nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and rash. The symptoms usually last two to seven days.

Dengue fever is transmitted only by females of both mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus to humans. Not all females carry the virus, they must first be infected themselves. This happens only when they bite a person who has dengue fever. After an incubation period of four to ten days a mosquito can transmit the dengue virus for the rest of her life to people. This mosquito is native to Asia, but is very adaptable. Therefore, it can also withstand colder temperatures. From person to person, the disease can´t be transmitted.

Distribution area:
More than 2.5 billion people – over 40 percent of the world’s population – live in areas at risk. Dengue fever is particularly prevalent in the western Pacific, Asia, Africa and Central and South America.

There are four sub-species of the virus (DEN-1 to DEN-4), which are closely related. The good news: Anyone who has had dengue fever, is immune for the rest of his life against one type of the virus. The bad news is that sufferers are permanently armed only against the corresponding sub-genre. For the other three types of virus immunity does not last long. In addition: people who develop dengue fever several times, are more susceptible to severe disease.

A vaccination or a specialized treatment doesn’t exist. Doctors can only treat the symptoms of the disease, so as to reduce the fever and relieve pain. It is also important to provide the body with sufficient liquid. In severe cases, many sufferers have in fact more than 20 percent less blood plasma in the body as healthy people.

Prevention is the best protection against dengue fever. Long sleeves and long pants will help to protect against them. To rub with anti-mosquito protection products, further helps to protect against it.

The situation in Costa Rica is under control and there is no immediate danger, because the mosquitoes reside mainly in polluted, urbanized territories.

The team of Amadeus Travel will assist you with any specific questions and advise you gladly.