by Shannon Farley

One of the top day tours on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month.

The highly popular nature and adventure attraction, and important scientific research center, was four years in the making and now five years open. In that time, the tour destination has achieved a long list of successes.

“Everyone is very proud of the work and effort we have given during these years,” said Federico Quirós, Administrative Financial Manager for Veragua, in an official announcement. “The staff has always had a good attitude to offer the best service and quality care to our visitors. This has made us a very united and consistent team.”

“I am very proud to have a top team that is dedicated, hardworking, loyal through thick and thin, and committed to facing challenges. We have had many successes in our relatively short history and I am sure that we will continue into the future,” added Veragua owner Martí Jiménez.

Just one hour inland from the Caribbean port of Limón, the 1,300-hectare (3,212-acre) park is located in an area of breathtaking tropical rainforest bordering the immense La Amistad International Park. Veragua Rainforest gives visitors the most complete rainforest experience possible in a one-day tour on the Caribbean in Costa Rica.

Additionally, ongoing salient research is conducted by Veragua’s team of on-site biologists, who partner with the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Costa Rica’s National Institute of Biodiversity (INBio), and the National Museum of Natural History to conserve the area’s abundant population of amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, and mammals. International and national student groups come to study and learn about the Neotropical ecosystem.

Since opening on July 4, 2008, more than 70,000 visitors have experienced Veragua Rainforest. They are a main one-day tour destination for cruise line passengers docking in Limón.

Veragua attractions include a canopy zipline tour, an aerial tramhiking trails through rainforest and by a river with waterfalls, wildlife exhibits and science labs. “We have all of the top activities that people enjoy in Costa Rica all in one location,” explained Jiménez. Nearly all of the park is wheelchair accessible and is designed to be safe for all ages.

Rather than being like a zoo, each sensational wildlife exhibit is an interactive live biology lab. Learn about the fascinating lifecycle of butterflies in the giant butterfly garden. See iguanas, lizards and snakes up close in the reptile habitat. Be informed about Costa Rica’s more than 300,000 species of insects in the insectarium. Enjoy the dynamic Frog Paradise habitat, which has a daytime area for diurnal amphibians, and a nocturnal frog habitat where day turns into night so you can see and hear nighttime frogs in action.

It is Veragua Rainforest’s plentiful wildlife that is attracting international scientific recognition. “We’ve had scientific experts come from around the world to study our wildlife – bats, crabs, lizards, frogs, butterflies, birds,” noted Jiménez. “Specialists from Harvard University have called us the ‘anole mecca’ for the wealth of anole lizards in our forest.”

Veragua biologists have made key discoveries of new species of butterflies, beetles and frogs in the area. Last year’s Christmas bird count at Veragua found a record-breaking 417 different bird species sighted in a 24-hour period – the highest number registered in Central America.

Jiménez revealed that they are in the process of formalizing a Veragua Foundation for rainforest research with the Costa Rican government. “This will allow us to expand and strengthen our resources for further research,” he explained.

Veragua’s success extends to their neighboring community. The business is supporting two nearby schools – contributing to the children’s education, raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity for conservation, and improving quality of life with infrastructure. “We’re located in a poor area that traditionally was involved in logging, mono-agriculture and hunting,” said Jiménez. “We’re turning the region into a conservation-focused area, giving locals jobs and teaching them to protect their resources.”

Veragua Rainforest is endorsed by Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy.