Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Every year Ethical Traveler conducts a study of developing nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, to identify the best tourism destinations among them. They begin their research by focusing on three general categories: Environmental Protection, Social Welfare, and Human Rights. For each of these categories, they look at information past and present so that they understand not only the current state of a country, but how it has changed over time. This helps them select countries that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment.
In the first phase of the process, they consider country scores from a variety of databases related to one of the three categories, using information from sources like Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the World Bank. After identifying the top performers, they turn to detailed case research, focusing on actions governments have taken over the year to improve (or in some cases, weaken) practices and circumstances in the countries.
To read the full story on the ethical traveler site, click here
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Costa Rica's only celebrity crocodile, Pocho has died, with his funeral attracting hundreds of mourners from his home town.
Pocho was the larger half of a double act with 54-year-old Gilberto Shedden who performed daring stunts with the 15 foot crocodile helping to put the Carribean town of Siquirres on the map.
For eight years Shedden dazzed tourists and locals with his shows for for eight years. The performer would pretend to wrestle with the huge reptile and even cuddle and kiss it.
Online videos of the pair went viral, making the fisherman and his 60 year-old reptilian friend international stars.
People lined the streets of the small pineapple and banana farming town to pay their respects to the funeral cortege of the 450 kilo animal, thought to be the first crocodile ever accorded the honour in Costa Rica.
Gilberto Shedden who was the animal's owner and co-star said said he would miss Pocho terribly.
But Pocho will still be drawing visitors after his death, his cadaver is to be embalmed and put on display in a local museum.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Every October the sleepy village of Tucurrique comes alive with thousands of visitors to celebrate the National Pejibaye Festival. Spanning two weekends, the event honors the town's regional specialty – pejibaye, or peach palm fruit.
A unique fruit that tastes like a cross between a baked potato and roasted chestnuts, the pejibaye is yellowish-orange to red in color, and is always boiled before consumption. Delicious even when served plain, the pejibaye is often crowned with a dollop of sour cream or mayonnaise.
At the Pejibaye Festival, the hosts prepare this delicacy in many different ways. You'll be able to try creamy bisque, cakes and breads, sugar cane treats, drinks, and even homemade liquor – all made from pejibaye.
In between mouthwatering goodies, guests can enjoy the festival's other attractions. An adjacent farm gives pejibaye tours on traditional oxcarts or tractors that detail peach palm cultivation and production. Another favorite is shopping artisan and bakery stands, run by locals who sell their handicrafts and typical foods.The festival also promises a wide range of events, including parades, folkloric dancing, fireworks, contests, rodeos and horseback rides. Live music is always a staple and tunes range from steel band cimarronas to modern favorites like salsa and cumbia. The annual festival is held downtown at the Centro Agricola Cantonal de Tucurrique, located on the outskirts of Turrialba.
To read the full story go to CostaRica.com
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
A common question when vacationing in Costa Rica is which coast to visit. Flanked by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the country offers more than 800 miles of gorgeous coastline, and each beach town has its own perks and appeal. Your accommodation needs, time of visit, and activity preferences will help narrow down which region to visit; or if you have ample time, plan to explore both the Caribbean and Pacific sides. While you can book just about any adventure tour on both coasts, the climate, beaches, amenities and general ambiance vary greatly between the two.
Overview: Home to Costa Rica's most touristed beach towns, Costa Rica's Pacific coast is the more popular choice for most travelers. Beach communities like Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, Flamingo and Conchal have modern infrastructure, upscale hotels and resorts, and easy access to high-speed Internet. The northern Guanacaste region is the most developed region on this coast, and in addition to plenty of other travelers, you'll encounter a large expat population, ethnic restaurants, and a slew of stunning beaches that vary from pink to white to cocoa-colored sands. The cultural ambience is purely "Tico," or Costa Rican, and many locals speak English quite well. If you're interested in spectacular sunset views, the Pacific coast is for you.
Most Popular Towns: Manuel Antonio, Jaco, Montezuma, Samara, Tamarindo, Flamingo, Conchal and Papagayo.
Best Swimming Beaches: For the tamest waves, head to Manuel Antonio, Playa Carillo, Playa Langosta, Samara or Conchal.
Caters To: The bulk of Pacific coast beach towns cater to families with children, honeymooners, nature lovers, and travelers looking for upscale or all-inclusive resorts. Business travelers typically find the amenities and services better on the Pacific coast. The remote Osa Peninsula offers more rustic accommodations and is frequented by backpackers, and wildlife enthusiasts eager to get off the tourist trail.
Weather: Generally speaking, the Pacific coast -- especially Guanacaste province-- is drier than the Caribbean. The rainy season runs from May through October, with the rainiest months being June, September and October. Daytime temperatures hover around 89°-96°F, with an average of ten hours of sunshine during the dry season.
Known for its laid-back vibe and distinctive Afro-Caribbean culture, the Caribbean coast sees fewer tourists than the Pacific, but hosts some of the country's most idyllic black sand beaches. Luxury accommodations do exist, but this side of the country is focused more on ecotourism, nature and beachfront living. The infrastructure is minimal in many areas; pot-holed dirt roads are the norm, but villages like Cahuita, Puerto Viejo and Tortuguero still draw thousands of tourists each year. Wildlife watching and turtle tours are Tortuguero's main highlights, while big waves and deserted beaches lure visitors to the southern Caribbean coast. This side of the country has an entirely different feel than the Pacific, from the prevalent Jamaican cuisine and music, to the provincial, small-town feel in each village.
Most Popular Towns: Tortuguero, though only visited for canal tours and wildlife watching, as its dark sand beaches have strong riptides and aren't good for swimming. Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Cocles, Punta Uva and Manzanillo offer secluded spots for beach-side picnics, and the waves at Salsa Brava can't be beat for seasoned surfers.
Best Swimming Beaches: This coast has stronger currents and notorious riptides, so always look for areas that are marked safe for swimming. Cahuita's Playa Negra, portions of Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita, and Manzanillo have gentle waves.
Caters To: Backpackers, budget travelers, culture aficionados, and visitors looking for a unique, laid-back vacation destination. While four-star hotels do exist, they're few and far between, and most visitors prefer to spend their extra funds on splash-out Caribbean meals or adventure tours.Weather: Though the Caribbean is more humid than the Pacific coast, temperatures are bit milder, ranging from 77 to 89°F year-round. This coast has an entirely different weather pattern, as its driest months occur February-March and September-October. If your vacation dates fall between September and October, which is the rest of the country's rainy season, a trip to the Caribbean might be your best option
To read the full story visit www.costarica.com
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
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