What’s happening in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is ready and waiting for visitors – and with travel restrictions being some of the simplest to get your head around, there is nothing getting in the way of you and the holiday of your dreams.
The latest news sees Costa Rica being the star of Kew Gardens’ current orchid festival; Arenal Volcano recognised as the best destination for outdoor enthusiasts; Costa Rica and the Galapagos creating a new underwater conservation zone; and traditional “cimarrona” folk music being awarded cultural recognition.
Celebrate Costa Rica at Kew Garden’s annual orchid festival (until 6 March 2022)
Kew Gardens’ annual orchid festival has returned for the first time in two years with stunning horticultural displays and vibrant installations celebrating the varied landscape of Costa Rica. Monkeys, sea turtles, toads, hummingbirds and the native quetzal bird – all hand-crafted from plants –decorate Kew’s glasshouse, bringing the country’s incredible biodiversity to life. The central display in the glasshouse pond, a highlight of the festival, will be filled with vibrant orange and yellow orchids to represent a rising sun. Costa Rica’s national flower, Guarianthe skinneri, will be also on display in its vibrant pink glory.
Home to 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity, Costa Rica is a role model for the conservation of biodiversity, with around a quarter of its land part of a protected forest or reserve – as recently recognised by the first Earthshot Prize.
Kew Gardens has many collaborative scientific projects located in Costa Rica, which include constructing a ‘family tree’ for all of its orchid species to learn how to better protect them, and documenting plants in La Amistad Biosphere Reserve – one of the richest places on Earth for plant diversity.
The Costa Rica inspired orchid festival can be viewed in the Princess of Wales conservatory until Sunday 6 March, and is included as part of ticket entry with timed slots.
Arenal Volcano National Park recognised as the best National Park in the world
Arenal Volcano National Park was recently voted the best National Park in the world in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards for 2022, in the category of “best destinations for outdoor enthusiasts.” It was victorious over 24 other destinations and was the only Latin American destination to appear in the category. One of Costa Rica’s top hiking destinations, Arenal Volcano National Park offers a range of trails that wind through wildlife-rich rainforest and old lava flows, all anchored by one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Costa Rica was further recognised as one of the “best destinations for sun seekers,” with La Fortuna de San Carlos, nearby Arenal Volcano, appearing in 20th place. Manuel Antonio, one of the country’s most iconic beaches, was also placed within the 22 best beaches of 2022, with praise for its shiny black sand, calm waves and exotic wildlife.
Traditional Costa Rican “cimarrona” folk music awarded cultural recognition
The traditional folk music of the “cimarrona” has just been declared as intangible cultural heritage of Costa Rica, which will go towards preserving and continuing this historic part of the country’s heritage. A “cimarrona” is a small band of amateur musicians characterised by being made up only of wind and percussion instruments such as clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, bugle, trombone, baritone, tuba, snare drum, bass drum and cymbals.
The history of the “cimarronas” dates back to the 20th century where they first emerged from many different towns, influenced by the military bands of the late 19th century. Traditionally, they are known for their presence at community festivities and celebrations. Now, their status as intangible heritage will ensure that people continue to train in the art and gain support in doing so.
Costa Rica and the Galapagos to create an underwater “ocean highway”
A new conservation zone is set to be created between Costa Rica’s Cocos Islands and the new Galapagos Marine Reserve, which will connect the two marine UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the aim of helping essential animal conservation. This migratory route is used by millions of sea turtles and rays, as well as critically endangered hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. In the long-term, the plan is to create an ‘Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor’ that also connects Ecuador, Colombia and Panam – as the country leaders agreed to during the COP26 summit in Glasgow 2021. The hope is for this measure to protect the ocean for generations to come.
Located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Cocos Island is one of the country’s most beautiful, remote and mysterious places, filled with a dense, tropical rainforest – the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest. The island’s waters have become very popular for divers, who rate it as one of the best places in the world. Cocos Island is home to 600 species of marine mollusks, 300 species of fish and 32 species of coral, nine of which are found in the deep waters.
Costa Rica appoints new Tourism Minister
Gustavo Alvarado was recently appointed as Costa Rica’s new Tourism Minister, following the resignation of Guastavo Segura in December 2021. The new minister will seek to continue efforts to support the gradual recovery of the travel industry with measures such as building strong airline connections with Costa Rica’s main markets, including Europe.
Alvarado holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Costa Rica and another in Political Studies with an emphasis on Latin America from Javeriana University in Colombia, while also a PhD student in Public Management and Business Sciences at the Central American Institute of Public Administration. He previously worked as the Presidency’s Deputy Minister during the 2011-2014 administration and has served on several departments within the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) since 2007.