Costa Rica in English means "Rich Coast," but these days it's more like "Hot Coast."
The ocean water on the coasts has increased in temperature, so when clouds try to go on to shore and cross up over into the mountains to the Continental Divide, they get caught trapped off shore and drop their rain out at sea instead of high up in the mountains of Costa Rica.
In the cloud forests of Monteverde, there has been a significant drop in rainfall just in the past five years.
"We used to have misty, foggy, 'vertical' rain. Now it's a lot more sunny," says Suresh Krishnan of DesafiÂo Adventure Company. "Of course, Monteverde still has its rustic, rural, cowboy charm, but the cloud forest reserves are an important part of the local economy and we're afraid we'll no longer have cloud forests to attract tourists here."
Krishnan's Monteverde office operates hikes and horseback riding near the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserves. The reserves connect to the Children's Eternal Rainforest that encompasses a vital biological corridor between Monteverde and the Arenal Volcano National Park lowlands area.
Monteverde, the eco-tourism capital of Costa Rica, is where the rain is captured that feeds the raging tropical rivers of the Northern plains. Lack of rain, uncontrolled deforestation of the forests, coupled with plans for the construction of more hydroelectric plants now threaten the area's rafting industry.
Krishnan explains that he was the first to commercially run the Rio Penas Blancas, Rio Toro and Rio Arenal rivers near the Arenal Volcano, all three of which are no longer naturally-flowing rivers or raftable due to river-damming projects.
"We are lucky now because some of the dams release water for excellent water flow all-year-long, but it looks like our luck is about to run out," laments Krishnan, who pioneered rafting and is credited with several first descents of rivers near the Arenal Volcano more than 20 years ago.
The nationalized electric company "ICE" has plans to build a series of over 40 new dams which will choke the existing water flow and cut-out the sections of river where the best whitewater rapids are found. Krishnan was recently invited to provide his input in a national forum on the future of energy production in Costa Rica and encouraged the country to look for and invest in alternative forms of renewable energy, because in the long run, hydroelectric projects do more harm than good.
"On the upside, Costa Rica has so many things to do and see from tropical canyons, a large, pristine lake, amazing beaches, a vibrant and authentic local culture, delicious, natural food and much more -- our hope is that as many tourists as possible take advantage of experiencing the Cloud Forest and Costa Rica rafting before it's too late!" says Krishnan.
Krishnan's company Desafio recently won Virgin Holiday's Best Tour
Operator Award for Local Economies based on the community projects and
environmentally-minded programs it has established, such as its "Adopt a
Tree" program and annual Recycling Challenge with local schools.
Desafio has developed an innovative Costa Rica vacation package called "Last-Chance Adventures in Costa Rica..." The compact 6-night/7day itinerary includes Desafio Adventure Connection transfers + tour; a stay at an organic farm; hike an extinct volcano; a boat transfer up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for a walk in the Cloud Forest Tree Top Canopy; choice of rafting or safari float on a naturally-flowing river; and an opportunity to observe dolphins or sea turtles at Playa Samara.
For more information about our Last-Chance Adventures in Costa Rica vacation itinerary, click here.
Christine Krishnan is married to Suresh Krishnan, the owner of
Desafio Adventure Company who founded the company more than 20 years
ago. They have both witnessed significant climatic changes in recent
years and hope visitors will take advantage of experiencing Costa Rican
rain forests, rivers and cloud forests before they (hopefully don't)
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