by Rhianna Seferian, Midlife Road Trip Correspondent
On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I learned first hand why eco-tourism is a phenomenal way to travel throughout the tropics. Eco-tourism gives value to the existing forest as well as adding value to reforestation projects. Traveling to the tropics not only benefits the traveler with stories of zip-lining through the canopy, seeing howler monkeys on the side of the road, and having hummingbirds zip by your ear to feed from a heliconia flower 2 feet away from you at breakfast. Why should we care about protecting the rainforest? There are too many reasons to count, but what stuck with me the most in my travels was learning that about 2100 of the 3000 plants identified by the national cancer institute as sources of cancer-fighting chemicals are found in tropical rainforests. Traveling to these places benefits you as the traveler, as well as the local area.
Do you want to see animals unique to one area of the world? Do you want to have a smaller impact on the environment, but not want to stay in a tent in the middle of the rainforest? Well eco-lodges are the place for you! Located in perfect areas between towns to experience the culture and the natural habitats of hundreds of species of plants and animals. They are a perfect spot to settle into when in the tropics to get the whole experience. Just outside one of the eco-lodges, bats were roosting outside my window. In some areas, you can see at least five different species of birds just on your walk to breakfast. Many eco-lodges have electricity and water heated by solar power and use recycled materials. They also use locally grown produce and employ locals. And for all you coffee lovers, many have fresh coffee available 24/7!