What is Ecotourism?
Known for its gorgeous beaches and abundant wildlife, Costa Rica is home to some of the most incredible biodiversity on the planet. Its abundant flora and fauna attract millions of tourists a year who are looking for a tropical getaway experience. This type of tourism is known as Eco-tourism, which aims to not only provide tourists with once-in-a-life-time experience, but to also inform the public about the environment and its threats. to help preserve it. Travelers looking for an upbeat social life visit San Jose to immerse themselves in the Costa Rican culture, or travel to the beautifiul beaches of Tamarindo in Guanacaste to enjoy some fun in the sun.
Although Costa Rica is constantly visited by travelers, tourist traffic is not evenly distributed throughout the country. The town of Las Juntas has played an influential role in the development of Costa Rica’s touristic market. Dating back to the early 19th century, Las Juntas provided San Jose with the proper knowledge and resources to install electricity in the town. Two-hundred some odd years later, that same town of San Jose hosts millions of travelers a year.
Due to its modest and humble appearances and lack of attention in commercialized markets, many tourists are unaware that Las Juntas exists. Though it may not seem like it on the surface, Las Juntas has just as many, if not more great amenities and experiences to offer tourists than the more popular areas of the country.
An organization called Mina Tours is a travel agency that plans travel arrangements for groups of tourists, or students, in Las Juntas. Mina Tours aims to provide their customers with fantastic experiences without the stress of planning it themselves. Carlos Fonteca owns Mina Tours, along with his wife Elieth Montoya and their son Fadrique. Mina Tours offers variety of different tours and activities for their customers that allow them to enjoy themsevles, as well as learn about the Costa Rican culture and the environment.
One of their most popular choices is a tour of the infamous minería to the public to provide them with not only an incredible experience, but to also enlighten them on the rich history and culture of the community. On the tour, you are guided by a miner through the dark and windy trails of the mine. Though this may sound intimidating, it is an experience that cannot be passed up. In addition to Mina Tours, Las Juntas offers various other educational and adventurous excursions that are waiting to be explored!
Carlos and Elieth along with the rest of the community realize that their small town struggles to keep up with advances in technology and to kick-start economic growth. There is an overall lack of tourism to this community, which makes it difficult to improve the conditions of the community. Additionally, the people of Las Juntas are content with the way in which their economy functions, because it has been working for them for years. One tour guide at the minería believes that tourism is actually bad for the community, because it is filling the streets with excess waste and money is not being evenly distributed. When tourists travel to Las Juntas, they may see the community as inefficient and underdeveloped, when comparing it to their own community in the U.S. The economies in both the U.S. and Costa Rica have different cultural and historical influences, making it unfair to compare them.
Why visit Las Juntas?
There are some things that are unique to Las Juntas that set it apart from the rest. Las Juntas may not have immense hotels, gorgeous beaches and countless souvenir shops like those in San Jose. They also lack restaurants that serve American food to keep tourists from having to struggle to try new and authentic foods. Mina Tours is one of, if not the only business in Las Juntas that is based on Eco-Tourism. The people of Las Juntas would love to be able to expand and improve their community, but need tourist traffic in order to do so.
It may not be as economically developed as San Jose, but it has been making significant improvements in its business practices, education and overall appearance of the community. There is immense potential for the businesses of Las Juntas to grow, but without revenue from tourism, they are stuck in the same position. The citizens of Las Juntas have immense pride for their community and would love to share their little slice of paradise with the world.
If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience incredible tours that highlight the history of Costa Rica, capture unbelievable pictures and eat delicious, authentic food, then come visit the wonderful town of Las Juntas!