Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris

Ecotourism & Conservation
in Costa Rica

Ensenada Lodge © Marc Lombardi

By traveling with Cheesemans’ to Costa Rica, you directly support the local community as well as the people who work in ecotourism. Our operators have long-lasting personal relationships with the owners of the lodges and private locations you visit on our Costa Rica itineraries. In addition to these grassroots relationships, they support conservation and ecotourism in a variety of ways such as hand-selecting local students who have shown interest and dedication to nature and wildlife to join specialized tours that include conservation service projects and environmental education. Victor, a local scholarship student who spoke very little English and had never traveled outside of his town, joined one of their US high school student tours in 2005 and now has a career as a bilingual naturalist guide. In addition, they offer tours to other conservation groups with a percentage of proceeds going toward local conservation efforts.

Costa Rica’s ecotourism industry gives local people sustainable job alternatives that help further conservation. For example, Selva Verde Lodge hires 60+ people from the local community who otherwise may have to work for pesticide-using banana and pineapple companies or make money by logging, poaching, or hunting (which was commonplace before the rise of ecotourism). Also, while our operators were born and raised in Costa Rica, many other companies send guides from their own countries instead of hiring someone local, which is detrimental to Costa Rica’s ecotourism economy. The more local people become empowered to reap the benefits of conserving natural habitats, the more successful conservation can be.

How Can You Make A Difference?

How You Can Actively Contribute


  • Keep an eBird list for each outing – you don’t need to track EVERY bird you see. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.
  • Take GPS-referenced wildlife and nature photos, and upload to iNaturalist. See our Reading and Resource List for more details.


  • Give a talk about your experience to a local wildlife or nature group or host a virtual webinar to reach a much wider audience!
  • Post your experiences on social media so others can learn more.
  • Submit a written, video, or audio testimonial for Cheesemans’ to share with future travelers.
Acting Locally


  • Support local vendors if you buy memorabilia to take home.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to refill rather than accepting plastic bottles. Filtered water is provided in the vehicles and lodges.
  • Ask for the lodging to not replace your towels or bedding during multiple night stays.
  • Turn off lights and fans when leaving your room.
  • Bring biodegradable soap to save waterways. This can also help minimize plastic bottle waste by reducing the number of bottles hotels provide (although many hotels are switching to dispensers in the bathrooms.).

Organizations You Can Support

Union de Ornitologos de Costa Rica  – This organization works for the conservation and research of birds and to distribute ornithological knowledge in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica por Siempre  – This private NGO supports the conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems through the management of funds and alliances with governments, the private sector, and civil society.

Ñai – This group, comprised of young professionals from diverse backgrounds, works on research and education projects to conserve tapir populations and their habitat in Costa Rica.

MarViva – This organization works to support the strengthening of the legal framework that regulates human activities in the Eastern Tropical Pacific by facilitating multisectoral processes for the planning, creation, and participatory governance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia.

HeartSong – This project-based school was born from the culmination of years of reimagining learning to honor the innate creative spirit of children. The HeartSong approach evolved from decades of study and experience in alternative education and innovative learning by HeartSong director and co-owner of our local operator, Heather Frid Jiménez. After the economic damage of COVID, they could really use aid to take flight.