Costa Rica: A NWS Guide's Perspective

Rebecca Puttock

10 Nov 2017

An interview with a costa rican guide

With a focus on wildlife and ecotourism, we at NWS pride ourselves on pairing up our guests with some of the worlds’ most knowledgeable and passionate guides out there. A professionally dressed, smiley Costa Rican guide meets me at San Jose airport after an 11.5 hour flight, offers a cooling bottle of water, and produces an itinerary that really does fill us both with excitement. Safe in the hands of his expertise, Eduardo starts talking about his home. Flora. Fauna. Past, Present and Future. I spend the next two weeks learning everything he could possibly teach me, as we both explore the deepest, darkest, depths of Costa Rica’s intense biodiversity.

So, who is Eduardo? And why do we love him? After spending two weeks on the road, naturally I want to find out more!

How long have you been guiding for? 

I have been in the tourism industry for more than 16 years, starting out as a taxi driver at the San Jose International Airport in 2001. When I realised how much I enjoyed interacting with people from all over the world, I decided to prepare myself to become a guide. Over the last 13 years, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to share our beautiful country with guests. Today, I still love it as much as I did on day one. 

How would you best describe Costa Rica?

If you like nature, adventure, friendly people and sunshine, Costa Rica is for you! It’s fun. It’s safe. And it offers experiences that you really won’t find anywhere else. Having 4% of the worlds’ biodiversity concentrated in just 51,100 square kilometres, Costa Rica is truly a paradise for those who love wildlife. Costa Rica is Pura Vida! 

What do you most love about being a guide? 

I get my reward in that moment when I watch a client’s face light up as they discover something new. Something that blows their mind! A taste, a smell, a texture – when they realise they are experiencing something they have never lived before. 

What's your favourite animal?

Ah, this is a difficult question! Every creature, great and small has something special! It could be a minor adaptation or a feature that makes them unique. When you think about how specific the evolutionary process is and how hard species try to stay in the competition to live, it is impossible to have a favourite. They are all amazing! 

What's your favourite National Park in Costa Rica and why?

Corcovado National Park, according to National Geographic, is the most biologically intense place on earth. It is a place full of energy! It’s on the branches, under rocks, on the creeks... it is everywhere! Every single corner is incredible - vibrant and full of life! This is why Corcovado National Park is my favourite!

Tell me about a funny wildlife encounter you once had?

Ok! Here, we have two different kinds of peccaries; the white-lipped (known for been very aggressive) and the collared peccary (a smaller and supposedly friendlier cousin). In 2010, I was assigned to a tour in one of the largest private reserves in the country. My boss sends me to scout the area before the group’s arrival. So, here I am on a trail, by myself, in the middle of the forest. Ahead of me, I see two collared peccaries. In the moment, I remained calm and enjoyed the encounter, with what I believed to be the friendlier of the species. Suddenly, the two individuals galloped away from me, and then… silence. They had disappeared into the distance.

Five seconds of false security passed, when the ground started to rumble… the whole pack was coming for me! I don’t think I have ever climbed a tree so fast in my life!

They never got me, but all of those years climbing mango trees as a child definitely helped! According to most locals, nature specialists and wildlife enthusiasts, they are not known for been aggressive, but I was not willing to put that to the test!

What future developments do you hope for to help improve ecotourism in COsta Rica?

The Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT), is constantly trying to teach the benefits of ecotourism to as many locals as possible. There are programs that emphasise the development of the areas visited by travellers. I hope with the years, every child gets to have access to a more specialised education. Not just in terms of the regular curriculum subjects, but also to learn the importance of conservation and sustainability so we can prove to the world that it is not just possible to develop a society in harmony with nature, but also to enable it to become a standard synchronicity for everyone in this country. 

Are there any wildlife projects you personally and professionally support?

I have been collecting data, videos and photographs of various wildlife species, some of which are endangered. I am sharing this information with a variety of researchers and scientists to help drive their projects and support their publications. Of course, I speak to international and local tourists every day, so I hope that I am able to continuously teach and promote the importance of sustainable tourism, reforestation, ecosystems and wildlife in our country. I also personally enjoy photography and my environment makes it easy to capture some incredible shots of some very rare species. All of this knowledge I use to educate locals and visitors, to preserve the richness of Costa Rica in terms of biodiversity. 

What one piece of advice would you give to our NWS travellers?

I always encourage that, when traveling to Costa Rica, our guests need to keep an open mind, every single minute! Opportunities to experience exciting wildlife encounters are around every corner, offered at all times, everywhere. Oh, and keep the gear handy! 

Cameras, binoculars. These have to be at the top of your day bag... you never know where or what’s going to be your next discovery!

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