A dazzling combination of unspoiled national parks, verdant and mountainous cloud forests and famously active volcanoes – not to mention pounding surf and gorgeous beaches – has made Costa Rica one of the world’s top destinations for ecotourism. Of course, attaining world recognition as a ‘green destination’ would not have been possible without the important efforts of local tourism professionals in the growing sustainable travel industry.
One local company, Il Viaggio Travel, has been at the forefront of ‘green’ initiatives in Costa Rica by providing reliable, comfortable and eco-friendly Costa Rica transfer services in every region of the country. Now, Il Viaggio Travel has aligned itself with Green Path Transfers, the world’s first global environmentally friendly transfer service.
“Since we first heard about Green Path Transfers, we knew we wanted to be part of the project,” says Emilio Zuñiga Cubillo, Operations Manager of Il Viaggio Travel. “It is very ambitious and well planned. They have every angle covered and we share most of their principles 100 percent. Our goal is to share with our customers their philosophy and try to convince all our local suppliers to get involved. I am sure this will make a huge change in the way other transport owners think. They will understand that you can still have a profitable business while turning your operation into a greener one.”
Il Viaggio Travel’s own fleet of superior fuel-rated vehicles includes two 12-passenger Toyota HiAce mini vans and an eight-person Hyundai H1, as well as a Suzuki Grand Vitara for solo travelers; the company has also joined ranks with many local and independent drivers, all of whom are bilingual and operate modern and fuel-efficient vehicles. Biodiesel is used whenever possible and is made locally from the African palm and Jatropha curcas trees.
Having launched its operations in March of 2005, Il Viaggio began providing travellers with a variety of services that included hotel and lodge reservations, guided tours and transfers for those interested in visiting Costa Rica in an environmentally responsible way. Today, in addition to offering luxury transfer services to any Costa Rican destination, the company continues to design tailor-made itineraries and packages for all types of travellers, while also offering many activities and tours such as paragliding, whitewater rafting, nature walks, canopy tours, sunset sails and much, much more. In 2009, Il Viaggio Travel was awarded an excellent grade by the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) program.
As part of its commitment to environmental standards for sustainable business practices, Il Viaggio Travel also participates in local tree planting and recycling programs and supports local artisans through the purchase of handmade goods for client gift packages. Local service providers and partners are chosen and vetted based on their ability to meet certification standards established by the CST, the Rainforest Alliance’s tourism and agricultural programs, the Ecological Blue Flag, or something similar.
For ecotourists and adventure travellers who have set their sights on Costa Rica, Emilio Zuñiga of Il Viaggio has a long list of not-to-missed recommendations. Among his top picks are rural La Fortuna, lying just 10 kilometres from Arenal, one of the world’s most active volcanoes; Manuel Antonio National Park, home to beautiful white sand beaches and wildlife that includes iguanas, monkeys, sloths and many species of birds; Monteverde, adjacent to two cloud forests and home to the rare and beautiful Quetzal; and Puerto Viejo de Limon in the southern Caribbean, notable for its unique Afro-Caribbean culture.
“It’s great working with a team as committed and passionate about environmental sustainability as Il Viaggio, especially in a destination as ecologically diverse and fragile as Costa Rica,” says Adrian Cordiner, CEO of Green Path Transfers.