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Onik has been involved in biology since she was a young girl - she grew up on a large 5 acre forest/residence near Santa Ana, Costa Rica, building tree houses and swinging on vines. That led to early childhood activities such as gymnastics and an undying fascination with nature. She recently finished her B.A. degree in Biology and she is now studying towards a Master’s degree with an emphasis on Environmental Interpretation and has a special interest in birds. In the intervening years, she has had the opportunity to travel and camp in almost every corner of Costa Rica. Her travels also include Asia, Europe, Africa and the wonderful Galapagos Islands. Her past times are music, dancing and of course soccer. Testimonials: Onik was exceptional! She related so well to the kids, and the adults enjoyed being with her, too. She was fun, knowledgeable, and eager to make this trip a fabulous experience for the group. Onik's love for her country showed in all that she did. Feck-Hammel Family – Costa Rica Active Family Adventure Our guide Onik was wonderful! Our girls (9 and 6) instantly attached themselves to her. She was phenomenally knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and simply great to hang around. We definitely credit Onik for our new-found knowledge about Costa Rica. Having a guide was an eye-opening experience; one that we would highly recommend. Robin and Heath Dolan - Costa Rica Family Vacation
From the time Gerardo was a young child, he enjoyed the natural wonders of his home and the nearby rainforests. His tourism career began as a driver, which gave him the opportunity to travel around the country while his appreciation for Costa Rica’s biodiversity expanded. He then decided to study and become a Naturalist guide in order to be able to share his knowledge and passion for the country. He continues learning to be the best possible guide for visitors who decide to vacation in this little country Gerardo calls “my little piece of paradise”. Testimonials: “This note is to commend our incredible guide, Gerardo Lara Gutierrez. He is the best guide I have ever had, anywhere. He can talk to you, drive the van, and spot a sloth or toucan, all at the same time. Stops van, sets up binoculars on tripod, adjusts to kids’ height (or adults’) in less than a minute, usually before any of the other guides have even seen the bird/animal. He has friends everywhere we went. The twins (9 -1/2) were in awe of him and followed him everywhere. He bought soccer balls and talked a school into setting up a quick soccer game with the twins, which they did. The phys ed teacher organized 6 kids, with Gerardo and my son as goalies. We had to leave after about 20 minutes, and he gave the balls to the school. Everyone came out a winner. When we had the problem at the hotel, he handled it almost before we even knew he was doing it. He is a gem. Please treat him well. Thank you for assigning him to us”. Lois Victor – Costa Rica Active Family Adventure “Now I want to tell you about our terrific guide, Gerardo. He was amazing, full of information about the politics, economy, ecosystems, industry, population, geography etc of Costa Rica… He was always professional and careful driving, despite the winding and bumpy road, and the negotiating of oncoming vehicles or occasionally having to pass, he never did anything rash, made the arduous trip up the mountains very comfortable, we never felt in danger, yet he gave informative commentaries on all the scenery, the plants, ecosystems, types of cattle, farms, sugar cane, coffee, cloud forest, cloud and weather patterns, etc….Anyway, he also was very attentive to any issues. He was just great, funny, patient, excellent English, excellent knowledge of birds, nature, etc. He absolutely made the trip for us, and when we talked with other tourists clearly we had the best guide of all! Other guests from the hotel Fonda Vela would come up and ask to look at the birds he was finding and identifying for us, and he was always gracious and professional with them too. Thanks so much for connecting us to Gerardo Lara”. Owen and Eileen Mathieu – Costa Rica Custom trip
Pedro lives in Heredia, the “City of the flowers”, with his 3 boys and his wife Yaney. For more than 4 years he worked as a bartender on several cruise ships, getting great customer service experience with tourists, and expanding his knowledge of the Caribbean Islands: Bermudas, Antigua, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and Aruba. When Pedro returned to Costa Rica, he started his career guiding tours throughout the country. Later he finished his training course as a Naturalist Guide at the National Institute of Learning and the National Institute of Biodiversity. With more than 18 years of guide experience Pedro is a true “Tico” who loves sharing Costa Rica’s traditions, nature and culture with the travelers who catch his contagious enthusiasm. He spends his free time playing basketball and going birding with his friends. He is also a serious soccer fan! Testimonials: “Thank you again for you help in coordinating our trip to Costa Rica in March. We had a wonderful and very memorable experience, and are enjoying reliving the moments through the many photos from our trip. Pedro Bolanos was very kind and an exceptional guide”. Dianna D. Overmyer – Costa Rica Active Family Adventure
Alex has worked as a naturalist Costa Rica tour guide for over a decade. He is passionate about birding, biking, kayaking, and specializes in guiding active Costa Rica family vacations. Alex is a rappel and canyoneering expert and represented Costa Rica as a member of a national search and rescue team in adventure competitions in Mexico, Panama and Nicaragua. In his free time he can be found mountain biking, exploring new trails, rappelling down a waterfall, or with his rod and binoculars exploring new fishing sites. These experiences have given Alex the opportunity to explore and gain experience in Costa Rica tourism and throughout the region establishing skills as a top naturalist Costa Rica tour guide. Alex continues to travel a few weeks each year outside of Costa Rica especially canoeing in Boundary Waters, Minnesota and Quetico Park in Canada. "Alex was friendly, organized, and insistent (in a kind way) on helping us see and learn all we could. He is so knowledgeable and pointed out animals, insects, and birds we could never have seen on our own. He deserves an A+." The Lane Family ~ Lapa Rios Tropical Adventure "Alex is a fantastic guide - we were near tears when he left us after just those 3 days. He was great with the kids as well." Matthews Family ~ Natural Wonders Family Tour
Marco (aka Tex) is a native Costa Rica travel guide from the Central Valley suburb of Desamparados. He started working as a Costa Rica tour guide in 1989 and has spent the last 16 years as a master naturalist guide, having been accredited as a professional naturalist guide by the National Institute of Learning. He continues to take courses on nature photography, ornithology and lepidopterology (study of butterfies) at the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica, and also expounds upon his knowledge of Costa Rica's volcanoes by participating in seminars with Costa Rican volcanologists. Marco also travels to many natural areas in the USA including Sedona, Moab, the Grand Tetons, and several nature reserves in Minnesota and Michigan to learn about temperate habitats. Marco's boundless enthusiasm and passion for Costa Rica adventure travel is obvious to all who travel with him; he puts an unbelievable amount of time and energy into all of his Costa Rica tours. Marco and wife Lety live in San Jose and have two children, Mariana and Daniela. When he is not guiding, Marco enjoys reading and his principal hobby of wildlife photography. "Marco - our naturalist guide - was incredible, informative, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and passionate about his country, conservation and the company. We thought this guy to become a good friend. He made the trip so enjoyable. We hope to return and ask for his services! I just can't say enough wonderful things about him". Carla Ullom and Family ~ Costa Rica Family Vacation
Growing up in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, Jonathan remembers watching tour buses drive by while he was playing outside climbing trees with friends. Not surprisingly, his first job in the tourism industry was as a bus driver which gave him the opportunity to really explore his country’s varied biodiversity and develop a deep longing to know more. He then decided to study to become a naturalist guide in order to be able to share his knowledge and passion for the country, getting his license from the National Institute of Biodiversity. What he enjoys the most about guiding is the fact that his daily life and work is focused on being a guardian of the environment and culture. He has a particular fondness for birds, mammals, plants and frogs. His favorite moment during trips is “that moment when travelers realize that nature is providing us with everything, in every aspect of our lives.” He feels passionately that we need to treat the earth with respect and that each person is obligated to be a caretaker of the planet and that awakening a strong sense of curiosity and connectedness in young people is the key to a sustainable future. When he's not guiding, Jonathan enjoys extreme sports such as mountain biking (his favorite sport), hiking, white water rafting, rappelling and wildlife photography.
Gustavo’s first memories of working are doing chores on the family farm alongside his father harvesting sugarcane, coffee and vegetables. He also fondly remembers working with the family’s animals, feeding them while milking cows and goats. He says that his love of the natural world is “literally in his genes.” His dream as a young child was to become a pilot, traveling around the world and meeting people of various backgrounds, and experiencing different cultural traditions. Growing up he discovered that he could have those experiences in his own country without a plane, “piloting guests” around his own country and sharing his passion for the natural world. After getting a degree in tourism, he started as an intern at Tortuga Lodge in Tortuguero National Park in management and teaching English to local kids. During his free time in Tortuguero, which is one of Costa Rica’s largest national parks, he started learning from the local guides where he would join the evening tours. After each tour he would study the birds, rainforest ecology, and mammals and learn more about each of the examples that had come up during the tour he had joined that day. Soon the guides were letting him do their job, sitting back and letting Gustavo share his hard earned knowledge. Before long, a new passion – and career – had been born. When he’s not working, Gustavo “never misses an opportunity to throw on his cleats” and play his national sport, soccer.
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