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Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios Jamaica

Have you ever gone bobsledding? Was it in a forest? We don't think so. Rated on TripAdvisor as one of the top attractions in Ocho Rios Jamaica, come and experience the exhilarating bobsled ride down Jamaica's famed Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. At Rainforest Adventures, we include the SkyExplorer ride, canopy zip lines, Mystic Waterslide and infinity edge pool and more for your amazing rain forest excursion. Enjoy a spectacular lunch at our restaurant overlooking the bay of Ocho Rios.

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St. Lucia Rainforest Excursions

Get an unparalleled St. Lucia vacation tour at Rainforest Adventures. Learn more about the rain forest aboard the rainforest aerial tram, combined with tranopy zip line tours for the best way to discover the rainforest. Try our famous Adreanaline and the AdrenaLUNA - the most exciting zip lines in the Caribbean. Trek through the hiking trails while you go bird watching and more!

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Costa Rica Atlantic, close to the Limon and San Jose Areas

Take a travel to Costa Rica and have a tour to Rainforest Adventures park and find great experiences and exciting attractions and things to do in Costa Rica's Atlantic side. From the first-ever aerial tram built over an expansive private nature reserve on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast. Complete with exotic birds’ flight path, and thrilling zip line tours. Awardwinning bird watching attracts bird enthusiasts from all around the world.

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Costa Rica Pacific Park, close to Jaco Beach

Come travel to Costa Rica and have an exciting park excursion at Rainforest Adventures in the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Enjoy the natural wonders of our ecotourism on the most enticing of all the Costa Rica Pacific attractions and excursions. Ride the rainforest aerial tram, or for an up-close and personal adventure try our thrilling zip line tour. Marvel the wonderful species of birds with our Costa Rica bird watching tours and take a look at different species of snakes and reptiles in the Serpentarium.

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Panama Excursions - Panama Canal and City Tours

Come travel to Panama, a country where the concept of exotic begins in its name in our Indigenous language, Abundance of... fish and butterflies; and it's true, as visitors will quickly discover for themselves. Youll find an abundance of wildlife in Panamas many national parks, an abundance of white sand beaches, hundreds of islands, more banks and shops than you would have dreamed possible, the Panama Canal, the rich history of Panama City, and of course, a fantastic quantity of fresh seafood, including fish.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Sustainability in 20 Years of Operations

Rainforest Adventures treads lightly, leaves sustainable mark, over two decades of operations

Rainforest Adventures Sustainable Ecotourism

This year marks the 20th anniversary of operations for Rainforest Adventures, who opened their first park in Costa Rica in 1994, and have since gone on to create one of the world’s most recognized sustainable adventure park companies, with current operations in four countries and plans for expansion.

With two parks in Costa Rica, Rainforest Adventures has undertaken a number of initiatives to help protect the environment, engage with local residents, and educate guests on the importance of sustainability practices. And, many of these initiatives started during to construction of the first park, Costa Rica Atlantic, in 1994. According to the Rainforest Alliance, Earth University and Costa Rican Tourism Institute, these two parks are the model for best practices in the world when it comes to sustainable development and operations.

“When we decided to build our first park in Costa Rica, we had two choices: cut down trees to build our aerial tram experience, or find a way to preserve the pristine environment,” says Joaquín von der Goltz, president of Rainforest Adventures. “While it was complicated and expensive to construct the aerial tram without removing trees, for me, the decision was easy – we had to protect the rainforest. Otherwise, why build a park to help educate visitors on the importance of rainforest conservation?”

Costa Rica Aerial Tram
The Aerial Tram lift in Costa Rica.

During the construction of the Costa Rica Atlantic park, local loggers were hired to help with the erection of the aerial tram lift. Rather than cut down part of the 1,200-acre rainforest in order to create a lift-line (much like a chairlift at a ski resort), the tram was completed without cutting down a single tree! By using helicopters to construct the tram (and, in turn, all future trams at the other parks), the result was an untouched rainforest environment, where guests could travel at canopy level, and view the flora and fauna in an in-depth, immersive experience.

This initial commitment to sustainability continues to present day. All park locations and operations in Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, and St Lucia have on-going practices in place to reduce the impact on the environment on a day-to-day basis, including park-wide environmental management systems and an extensive recycling program for both guests and staff. The environmental management system includes:
  • an energy savings plan where all electricity is measured and reduced whenever possible, thereby reducing the reliance on bio-diesel;
  • a management plan for liquid and solid waste generated in parks;
  • a water saving plan that involves water-saving taps, urinals and toilets;
  • and a response plan for the care and management of potential spills.

The recycling program for guests and local teams includes international signage to help identify the correct containers for plastic, metal, glass, paper, compostable and non-recyclable waste.

In addition to these programs, Rainforest Adventures has a commitment to buying local, and encouraging their guests to do the same. The parks have an agreement with local artisans in which they are invited to showcase their crafts for sale to guests. And, more than 95 per cent of food and beverage available for park guests is derived from local products produced by local farmers.

Rainforest Adventures Gift Shop
The Rainforest Adventures Gift Shop, which showcases crafts for sale made by the locals.

With a focus on social sustainability, Rainforest Adventures employs more than 500 local, multilingual guides at their parks. Each guide adds depth and colour to the visitor experience by sharing insider information about the region’s rainforests, native plants and animals and about local customs, cultures and traditions.

Rainforest Adventures is committed to minimizing their overall impact on the environment, while encouraging their guests to take the in-park methods and apply them at home. Parks feature education centres where guests can learn about conservation and the importance of preserving the world’s natural resources. Understanding that youth are future policymakers, Rainforest Adventures pays special attention to this demographic by offering a number of all-age, family-centric experiences, activities and exhibitions that are designed to empower and educate youth about the environment.

And, with the commitment to sustainability, government and NGOs have taken notice. Rainforest Adventures Costa Rica Pacific has been recognized for its sustainability by the country’s government, earning an Ecological Flag, a Blue Flag, a Decree of National Interest for the Republic of Costa Rica and Certification for Sustainable Tourism. Both Costa Rica parks were verified by the Rainforest Alliance– a standard recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council – achieving the highest rating possible. In 2012, EARTH University officially certified the Costa Rica Atlantic park as carbon neutral, Costa Rica’s first tour operation to receive a carbon neutral title.

For more information about Rainforest Adventures, visit www.rainforestadventure.com

About Rainforest Adventures

With tour operations in Panama and award winning, adrenaline-inducing adventure parks located in Costa Rica (both Pacific and Atlantic), Saint Lucia, and Jamaica, Rainforest Adventures locations serve as ecotourism attractions, nature reserves and wildlife refuges. Since 1994, the company has been combining unique rainforest adventures such as aerial trams, bobsleds and zip line rides, with exceptional, multi-lingual naturalist guides, giving each guest an educational, adventurous, sustainable and unforgettable rainforest experience. For more information, visit www.rainforestadventure.com

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Our Costa Rica Zip Lines Contribute to Sustainable Alternative to Deforestation

Our zip lines in our Costa Rica parks are featured on The Travel Word through the article of Ethan Gelber, as being an alternative to deforestation. This article is the next in a series of portraits, long and short, of some of the people Ethan met and places he visited during a recent trip to Costa Rica. The subjects were chosen as noteworthy examples of Costa Rica’s distinct pura vida.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Rainforests deserve all the positive notice they can get, even including when seen from zip lines in Costa Rica suspended between towering first-growth trees.

Rainforest Adventures Atlantic park zip line
At the Rainforest Adventures Atlantic park, one zip line spans the Corinto River, Costa Rica. The nearer platform is anchored to a large campano tree (Ilex skutchii)

That might seem like an odd logical leap, but at a time when global discussions about climate change are shifting (at last) away from whether we are speeding toward an imminent dangerous planetary tipping point to when we might no longer be able to undo the damage done, all efforts to conserve existing forests, regenerate degraded lands and develop sustainable agro-forestry systems merit a closer look.

This is especially true in places like Costa Rica, where a welcome combination of business innovation and prescient government policy has allowed eco-minded adventure enterprises to take root and flourish.

A Zip Line Lifeline

One notable alternative land-use practice in Costa Rica is adventure parks. The best of them place a huge priority on a well-preserved environment so that visitors can experience and learn about tropical ecosystems in their full glory. Wrapped in nature’s rich embrace, a wide variety of activities go on in some parks, such as river rafting, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, rappelling/abseiling, bird watching and even waterfall climbing. There may even be butterfly or snake exhibitions, and specialized gardens showcasing interesting endemic plant species, like heliconias and bromelias. But one of the most popular new diversions is zip lines, usually as part of a canopy tour.

Costa Rica Zip Line
The zip line at the Rainforest Adventures Atlantic Park in Costa Rica includes many safety features, including a double cable, chest harness and proprietary braking system that eliminates the need to moderate speed by holding on to the cable.

A zip line is a suspended cable, set at an incline, along which harnessed people or supplies can slide using the force of gravity alone. While zip lines have been used for a long time as transport for to and from remote locations and over difficult terrain, they now also have found purpose in adventurous adrenaline activity.

A series of interconnected recreational zip lines running through a forest form what is now called a “canopy tour,” propelling people from one elevated position to another and allowing for thrilling close contact with treetop nature, where 70% of tropical forest life takes place, even when the whoops and hollers of thrilled participants frighten away most creatures.

Costa Rica is particularly well known for its canopy tours. There are dozens of operators, including one company that claims to have invented the sport, and courses that vault across beaches, rivers and canyons, and breeze through the heights of rain forests. The longest tours can take up to three hours to complete, allowing plenty of time for an introduction to some of Costa Rica’s most ubiquitous scream-resistant flora and fauna, like butterflies, giant iguanas, tree frogs and a wide selection of orchids.

Rainforest Adventures

Of course, not all tour operations are created equal; some have truly taken long-term sustainability to heart. One of the most ecologically enlightened of Costa Rica’s adventure parks is Rainforest Adventures, which owns two areas in the country. The first serves as a buffer zone adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park. Its 1,200-acre (475-hectare) reserve lies 28 miles (45 kilometers) from San José on the Atlantic side of the country. The second is a smaller 222-acre (90-hectare) ecotourism project near coastal Jaco, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) west of San José, with small waterfalls and views of the Pacific coast.

Costa Rica Aerial Tram
The gondolas of the aerial tram at the Rainforest Adventures Pacific park in Costa Rica hold eight people and a naturalist guide.

Both locations boast zip-line tours in addition to other activities designed to deliver a closeup taste of nature. Of special note is the 164-foot climb up a waterfall in the Pacific park and the aerial trams in both parks, the latter put in place – tram towers and cable – using helicopters so as not to cut down a single tree. The Atlantic park’s tram lasts an hour and 20 minutes and flies a distance of 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers). In its open-air gondola, a naturalist guide accompanies up to six people through primary-forest canopy at a slow 1¼ miles per hour (2 kph), perfect for educating guests about the importance of environmental awareness. Beyond that, numerous initiatives favor buying from and hiring locals, and proactively protecting the environment in accordance with a park-wide environmental management system.

In fact, as an acknowledged model for best practices in sustainable development and operations, Rainforest Adventures could arguably claim to oversee a couple of the world’s most sustainable parks. Those in Costa Rica have been verified with the highest possible rating by Rainforest Alliance, as well as an Ecological Flag, a Blue Flag, and a Decree of National Interest from the Costa Rican government, all in addition to top (five-leaf) ratings by Costa Rica’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism. The Atlantic park is also Costa Rica’s first tour operation to have been certified as 100% carbon neutral by EARTH University.

“Sustainability is the cornerstone of what we do at Rainforest Adventures,” commented Nicolas Staton, the company’s general manager for Costa Rica. “It’s there in every breath we take, every guest we load onto the tram, zip line, nature walk, etc. Or every bird or animal guests see sitting in our trees eating from the fruits of the forests we are conserving. This is what we live for and is a key element to every decision we make in regards to our operation.”

Read more about Zip Lines in Costa Rica: A Sustainable Alternative to Deforestation »

About Ethan Gelber:

Ethan Gelber
In addition to his freelance travel writing (Lonely Planet author, AFAR Ambassador, Huffington Post Travel blogger and more), Ethan has agitated tirelessly for responsible/sustainable travel practices, a focus on keeping things local, and quality and relevance in publishing and destination marketing. Among many other things, Ethan is a co-founder of OutBounding (a content curation tool), Destination Accelerator (education and networking for destination marketers) and EcoAdventure Media (support for eco-conscious brands), as well as a co-initiator of the Local Travel Movement (a platform for people passionate about local travel). For five years, Ethan has been Chief Communications Officer of the WHL Group, the largest local-travel company in the world, for which he founded and edits The Travel Word.

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