Tourism with a heart: Veragua Rainforest betters lives in community

Tourism with a heart: Veragua Rainforest betters lives in community

What does your visit to Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure Park in Costa Rica mean? You are helping better the lives of kids and families in local communities.

Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure in Costa Rica social programs

Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure in Costa Rica helps local schools with community outreach.

A visit to Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure in Costa Rica is tourism that has meaning.

Besides giving you everything you could ask for in a Costa Rica rainforest tour – nature, wildlife, rainforest, waterfalls, learning, and adventures like an aerial tram and zip lines – Veragua Rainforest helps create a better life for everyone in their local Caribbean region. Your visit helps support Veragua’s community outreach programs.

For the past eight years since its opening, Veragua Rainforest staff and founders have worked hand in hand with their local communities in education, conservation, and improving the quality of life of local residents.

“Since Day One we have been making an impact on people’s lives,” said Rocio Lopez, Education Program Coordinator at Veragua Rainforest. “We are changing the lives and history of the people in this community. We are changing their whole perspective.”

Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure Park in Costa Rica

Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure Park in Costa Rica. (photo by Shannon Farley)

Surrounded by rainforest in the mountains near the port of Limon on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, the 3,212-acre private reserve of Veragua Rainforest shares its border with the impressive La Amistad International Park (“Friendship International Park”), the second largest nature reserve in Central America. It is a life-rich region of unprecedented biodiversity, which is why Veragua also is dedicated to rainforest research.

It also is an impoverished area that once subsisted on logging, mono-agriculture and hunting for its population’s existence. Located within two miles of Veragua are the two tiny communities of Brisas de Veragua de Limon and Union of the Peje River. From the beginning, Veragua Rainforest founders have focused on creating new possibilities for livelihood, conservation and education.

“We’re turning the region into a conservation-focused area, giving locals jobs and teaching them to protect their resources. We’re very involved in the community with education and infrastructure,” explained Veragua co-owner Marti Jimenez.

veragua-rainforest-costa-rica-tree-planting

Veragua Rainforest regularly hosts tree planting days in the local community with visiting student groups.

Eight years of impact on the community has created a big difference, Lopez said. Hunting has reduced and animals have returned to the forest, trees have been planted, and educational programs at local schools are teaching another world view and way of life to the new generation. “We want to make a life change with these kids through education,” said Lopez.

Veragua is especially focused on helping schoolchildren at the local elementary schools in Brisas and Peje. Between 20 and 30 children attend each of the tiny, one classroom schools that combine first through sixth grades all together with one teacher, who doubles as principal, janitor, etc.

Through the Veragua Foundation for Education & Rainforest Research, Veragua Rainforest provides regular maintenance to the schools by painting and fixing structures. Veragua is looking for support from the private sector now to build new universal access bathrooms at Brisas School. Veragua biologists and guides instruct students in environmental protection, and lead tree-planting days in the community. School groups come to Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure several times a year to enjoy all of the facilities and tours.

student-groups-at-veragua-rainforest

Veragua Rainforest helps local schools with educational programs.

How Can You Contribute?

You can visit Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure Park in Costa Rica. Veragua Rainforest is a top cruise ship shore excursion in Limon, Costa Rica. Money from ticket sales goes in part to fund the Veragua Foundation.

Other funding for the Veragua Foundation comes from donations. You can contact Veragua to give a donation, bring a student group to do hands-on projects, or to volunteer. You can also donate online at http://www.veraguarainforest.com/foundation/.

“We want to thank people for their visit to Veragua, and let them know that they are supporting the children and families of Costa Rica,” said Lopez.

Article by Shannon Farley          

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