By Shannon Farley
When Veragua Rainforest Eco-Adventure was honored with the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame last month, it was an incredible vote of confidence to the dedicated staff, most of whom have been working with the company since it opened in 2008.
At the helm of operations day in and day out over the past 12 years is Site Manager Daniel Torres, to whom Veragua owners attribute much of the eco-adventure park’s success.
“We are so happy that Daniel has been working with us for 12 years, since even before we opened. Our recent inclusion in TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame is a testament to how his positive leadership and the company’s organizational climate result in wonderful service for our clients,” said Marti Jimenez, co-owner of Veragua Rainforest.
Get to know the man behind the nametag
Who is Veragua Site Manager Daniel Torres?
Born 41 years ago in the town of Guapiles in the Caribbean province of Limon, Daniel is the eighth and youngest child of his family. He, his three brothers and four sisters grew up in this rural area that is a mix of banana and pineapple plantations and rainforest.
Growing up immersed in nature had a big influence on Daniel, and he has dedicated himself to remaining in the province and the ecotourism business. First, he worked at the Rainforest Aerial Tram in Braulio Carrillo for 13 years. Beginning as a naturalist guide at age 16, he worked his way up to supervisor, and then manager for his last three years.
He was recommended to Veragua Rainforest in 2007 when the eco-adventure park was under construction and joined the team as the site manager.
“It has been really fantastic to be working here from the very beginning, when we were finishing building and just getting ready to open to the public,” Daniel said.
Most of the other full-time employees at Veragua Rainforest have also been with the company since its opening. “We have a great team and very low staff turnover. We work with mostly locally-based employees. Our staff is one reason why we are so successful,” noted Daniel.
What Daniel likes best about working at Veragua is that his work and his favorite pastime coincide: bird-watching.
“I love bird-watching because you never see the same thing. You can go somewhere 10 times and each time you will see something different. The best thing about birds is you can see birds everywhere. It’s always interesting and the colors of the birds in Costa Rica are spectacular,” said Daniel.
“At Veragua, I can step out of my office, and I am in the middle of the rainforest where we have more than 365 kinds of birds. In the morning, we hear the howler monkeys, the toucans, and the parrots; and at night, we have the frogs and insects. We always have our own concert of animals,” he added.
“Veragua is a spectacular forest. We have great diversity in plants and animals, and an incredibly high number of frogs and other amphibians, birds, insects and mammals. It is rainforest in all its splendor. And it is easy for everyone to access.”
“The sky gondola where you can see the forest from up above and then travel down through the canopy to the forest floor is amazing,” he explained. “I enjoy the butterfly garden for how big it is and all that it shows … an excellent collection of butterflies that live in the region, the hatching area of pupas, panoramic views, and the abundance of beautiful flowers.”
Married for 22 years and with three sons, ages 16, 14 and 4, Daniel enjoys sharing the vibrant nature at Veragua Rainforest with his family. In addition to working, he is finishing his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Latina University (Universidad Latina de Costa Rica) campus in Guapiles. And while his two-hour commute each way from his home in Guapiles to Veragua’s Eco-adventure Park is long, he said he wouldn’t work anywhere else. “It has been an incredible experience to work in Veragua!”
For his part, Marti Jimenez is very pleased to have Daniel leading the team at Veragua.
“Daniel has many attributes as a professional and as a human being. He’s straightforward and at the same time very cordial and respectful. We have a collaborative relationship, and he is responsive, resourceful, and independent,” said Marti. “Daniel is one step ahead and proactive because he is so organized and understands the big picture. He leads by example with the staff, and with the clients, he is friendly and always has a smile. He is great both on the front line and managing the operation behind the scenes.”