Thursday, January 28, 2010


What is "Veranito"?

During the rainy season an unusual and little known weather phenomenon known as Veranito occurs. Basically it is a break in the rainy season which typically occurs in July.

Flowers, trees and fruiting plants are in full bloom as a result of the rains that have gone before and of course these fruits and flowers attract the most abundant wildlife.

So if you're considering a wildlife / eco-holiday trip to Costa Rica......consider coming during "Veranito".

Even better hotel prices in July are at their lowest because it is the rainy season.

If you are planning a trip don't forget that Marina Villatoro offers our clients the very best discounted rates and a personalised service which is second to none. To contact Marina just click here

Monday, January 25, 2010

Driving in Costa Rica

Thinking of renting a car and really getting to see everywhere in Costa Rica - well care is required. Heavy tropical rainfalls are common, and landslides frequent. This inclement weather can damage roads and bridges....and Costa Rican driving stylyes can be a little erratic.

So if you plan to drive in Costa Rica - drive carefully, expect the unexpected and take care.

The video below highlights some of the tricky situations you may come across:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New EU Trade Secretary to visit Costa Rica

The new EU trade commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will visit Costa Rica on the 20th and 21st of January during his first visit to Central America.

Also on his schedule are visits to Guatemala and El Salvador.

The purpose of the trip to is to resume negotiations on an Association Agreement between the EU and Central America.

This association was first proposed in 2007 and negotiations were put on hold in July of 2009 due to the coup in Honduras.

The EU and Central American nations hope to have reached an accord by May of this year.

Click here to read further coverage of this story in the Costa Rica News

Monday, January 18, 2010

Costa Rican Ambassador speaks at the la\unch of Planet Positive

Costa Rica's Ambassador speaks, at the launch of planet positive, about Costa Rica's aims to become carbon neutral by 2010 and describes some of the processes they are putting in place to achieve this.

The camera work is a little lacking but the content is great.

Planet positive is a brand assigned only to a product, person or business which (or who)has a net positive impact on the planet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Win a 7 Day Holiday to Costa Rica has a spectacular, no strings attached, competition running at the moment.

Win a 7 day trip for two to the 4* Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa.

The prize includes all meals and drinks and free SCUBA diving lessons and is valued at over US$4,200.

You can read more about the competition here and enter here.

Good luck and I hope you win

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Happiest People by Nicholas D. Kristoff

Hmmm. You think it’s a coincidence? Costa Rica is one of the very few countries to have abolished its army, and it’s also arguably the happiest nation on earth.

There are several ways of measuring happiness in countries, all inexact, but this pearl of Central America does stunningly well by whatever system is used. For example, the World Database of Happiness, compiled by a Dutch sociologist on the basis of answers to surveys by Gallup and others, lists Costa Rica in the top spot out of 148 nations.

That’s because Costa Ricans, asked to rate their own happiness on a 10-point scale, average 8.5. Denmark is next at 8.3, the United States ranks 20th at 7.4 and Togo and Tanzania bring up the caboose at 2.6.

Scholars also calculate happiness by determining “happy life years.” This figure results from merging average self-reported happiness, as above, with life expectancy. Using this system, Costa Rica again easily tops the list. The United States is 19th, and Zimbabwe comes in last.

A third approach is the “happy planet index,” devised by the New Economics Foundation, a liberal think tank. This combines happiness and longevity but adjusts for environmental impact — such as the carbon that countries spew.

Here again, Costa Rica wins the day, for achieving contentment and longevity in an environmentally sustainable way. The Dominican Republic ranks second, the United States 114th (because of its huge ecological footprint) and Zimbabwe is last.

Maybe Costa Rican contentment has something to do with the chance to explore dazzling beaches on both sides of the country, when one isn’t admiring the sloths in the jungle (sloths truly are slothful, I discovered; they are the tortoises of the trees). Costa Rica has done an unusually good job preserving nature, and it’s surely easier to be happy while basking in sunshine and greenery than while shivering up north and suffering “nature deficit disorder.”

After dragging my 12-year-old daughter through Honduran slums and Nicaraguan villages on this trip, she was delighted to see a Costa Rican beach and stroll through a national park. Among her favorite animals now: iguanas and sloths.

(Note to boss: Maybe we should have a columnist based in Costa Rica?)

What sets Costa Rica apart is its remarkable decision in 1949 to dissolve its armed forces and invest instead in education. Increased schooling created a more stable society, less prone to the conflicts that have raged elsewhere in Central America. Education also boosted the economy, enabling the country to become a major exporter of computer chips and improving English-language skills so as to attract American eco-tourists.

I’m not antimilitary. But the evidence is strong that education is often a far better investment than artillery.

In Costa Rica, rising education levels also fostered impressive gender equality so that it ranks higher than the United States in the World Economic Forum gender gap index. This allows Costa Rica to use its female population more productively than is true in most of the region. Likewise, education nurtured improvements in health care, with life expectancy now about the same as in the United States — a bit longer in some data sets, a bit shorter in others.

Rising education levels also led the country to preserve its lush environment as an economic asset. Costa Rica is an ecological pioneer, introducing a carbon tax in 1997. The Environmental Performance Index, a collaboration of Yale and Columbia Universities, ranks Costa Rica at No. 5 in the world, the best outside Europe.

This emphasis on the environment hasn’t sabotaged Costa Rica’s economy but has bolstered it. Indeed, Costa Rica is one of the few countries that is seeing migration from the United States: Yankees are moving here to enjoy a low-cost retirement. My hunch is that in 25 years, we’ll see large numbers of English-speaking retirement communities along the Costa Rican coast.

Latin countries generally do well in happiness surveys. Mexico and Colombia rank higher than the United States in self-reported contentment. Perhaps one reason is a cultural emphasis on family and friends, on social capital over financial capital — but then again, Mexicans sometimes slip into the United States, presumably in pursuit of both happiness and assets.

Cross-country comparisons of happiness are controversial and uncertain. But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica’s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad.

In the meantime, I encourage you to conduct your own research in Costa Rica, exploring those magnificent beaches or admiring those slothful sloths. It’ll surely make you happy.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

To read the original story by Nicholas D. Kristoff in the New York Times click here

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mascarada Puppets of Costa Rica

Traditional Costa Rican Mascarada Puppets are a common sight in many Costa Rican parades and carnivals.

The heads are huge and modeled in Papier Mache to resmble characters from traditional Costa Rican folklore.

You can read more about these Mascarada puppets here and if on your next trip to Costa Rica you would like to visit a Mascarada workshop, Marina Villatoro can organise your visit for you.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Win a two week trip to Costa Rica

Are you a keen blogger / video poster.

Gap Adventures Costa Rica and Nomadic Matt's travel site are offering a prize of a two week trip to Costa Rica for the best blog posting / video entry replying to the question: "why you want this trip and what you hope to get out if it".

Full details of the competition and the super prize are here.

Good luck to all the entrants.