Our Costa Rica Team
Logistics and program development in Costa Rica are handled by the staff of Herencia Verde. They have built and maintain relationships with community contacts, hotels, restaurants, and activities to ensure that your travels run as smoothly as possible.
As a native Costa Rican growing up on a farm, Carlos Viquez brings a wealth of personal experience to his work with EcoTeach. Pika—as his friends know him—started leading naturalist tours in 1994 at the suggestion of a college friend majoring in tourism. He started taking classes offered at the Universidad Nacionál, and working on various research projects related to mammal behavior and bats. Then in 1997 Pika began guiding for EcoTeach, and in August of 2008 – after more than 10 years as a guide – took over the Costa Rica operations.
“I don’t know of any other company in Costa Rica that does the things we regularly do here at EcoTeach. I don’t have any doubt it’s harder work than leading commercial tours. What we do is special.”
Reservations & Program Manager
Gaby grew up in Santa Barbara, a beautiful district north of the city of Flores in Heredia Province. She lived with her parents and brother for 27 years – her family is a pillar in her life and has been the foundation in making her the person she is today.
Since she was very young, Gaby has been interested in social sciences. She has worked with various service and media communication companies in human relations and has continued to learn and develop professionally in this field. In 2005, she graduated with two licenses in Human Relations as well as Economic and Social Planning from the National University.
In 2008, she began working with the company that she says "has changed her life."
“EcoTeach, as a conservation and development program, has helped me appreciate and value the treasure we Costa Ricans enjoy every day. The work and help the groups bring to the projects when they visit us creates the opportunity to make important changes for the environment; positively effects the lives of many people; and helps to maintain Costa Rica as a place of “Pura Vida.”
Reservations & Program Coordinator
Paola grew up in a small town surrounded by mountains, a cool climate, and adorned with milk cows. Her family eventually moved to the city of Heredia, outside San Jose, and she studied at the University. Her small town has always been close to her heart and for this reason she chose to study agronomy. Paola’s interests include animals and nature. She absolutely adores animals. In her free time she volunteers at an animal shelter for cats and dogs; finding them responsible families and promoting spay and neuter campaigns. She also enjoys the rain, the forest, and of course a cup of coffee!
When she was introduced to EcoTeach she fell in love with the environment – with EcoTeach she has the opportunity to really get to know her small and beautiful country, as well as other people and cultures, and to work towards conserving the unique environment of her country. She believes the future of the planet is indeed in our hands – education and conservation are the first steps towards this future.
Some are trained as biologists and researchers. Others have been immersed in Costa Rica’s natural resources since they were children. All our guides have extraordinary knowledge, exceptional experience, in-depth training and a welcome sense of humor. Additionally, they are all certified in emergency first-aid training and swift-water rescue.
Lisseth was born in 1984 into a big family, the second oldest of five siblings. She grew up in the Sarapiqui countryside, part of the Heredia province. Her parents are farmers and the family raises cows and pigs. They also have horses, chickens and dogs. Lisseth loves to spend time with her nieces and nephew. Her hobbies are painting with acrylics and volunteering for different projects.
Lisseth has been guiding for 14 years and her real passion is sea turtles - their behavior and everything related to it. If she weren’t guiding she’d probably be a naturopath as she likes to observe people, listen to their situations, and try to help by using natural plants.
She would love to travel to many places, but one of Lisseth’s dreams is to go to Peru to see Machu Picchu, or to the Galapagos to see the turtles. “The main idea I want my travelers to take from the trip is how everything is connected and how small actions can change the world. Travel is important because it’s the best way to learn about culture, geography and life in general," said Lisseth.
Adrian Salas Campos
Adrian was born in 1983 and is an only child. He was raised by his mother and has many cousins who are like brothers and sisters. He grew up in Rio Frio, Sarapiqui, a place surrounded by banana plantation fields. “I had a lovely childhood playing free and running through the banana plantations on the cable transportation - basically doing zip line before it was invented. I swam in the rivers and biked with my trouble-maker friends,” says Adrian. These days, Adrian spends his free time with a good book, watching movies, listening to music, and enjoying nature.
Guiding since 2002, he loves nature in general with a focus on animal behavior, nature walks, and birdwatching – it’s his passion! Being a tour guide has helped him develop a lot of skills and knowledge in many different areas. As a guide, he likes to share an “OoO” approach with his groups. OoO means obstacle or opportunity, and is a lens through which you can see every moment of your life.
“Traveling is my school of learning, and I enjoy it so much. I think it’s important because it shows people reality, makes people understand the world, teaches people, encourages and challenges people for good, touches them in so many different ways. People learn about themselves too!” says Adrian.
Adrian Quesada Montenegro
Born in 1968, Adrian grew up in a family of nine children on a banana plantation located in the northern part of Costa Rica. As a child, Adrian liked to swim in the river, walk through the forest and collect plants and insects. These experiences got him interested in nature - especially ecology. A basic understanding of English helped Adrian get jobs in the tourist industry. As a guide, he improved his English and his understanding of nature. Adrian has been a guide for more than 20 years.
As the banana industry supported Adrian’s family, he understands the importance of the industry and balances that experience with Costa Rica’s focus on protecting the environment, the economy and biodiversity. “This showed me that balance or sustainability is very important. This is what I want our visitors to take away with them - whatever we do, do it responsibly, take care of nature and respect people,” says Adrian.
“EcoTeach is an important part of my life; I have been working for them for 16 years (the age of my daughter). They have helped me a lot, trained me to be a better guide, but most importantly, a better person. In this job I’ve had the chance to travel around Costa Rica, parts of Central America and the USA … and learn about people’s lives. Travel is important because it gives one the chance to see life from different perspectives, understand other’s needs and customs and appreciate all kinds of people and this beautiful gift life,” says Adrian.
Adrian lives with his wife Maria Elena and children Kennya and Ian in Guapiles. When he’s not guiding, he likes to swim, run, play soccer, read, Google everything, and spend time with his family. If he weren’t a guide, Adrian would like to be a musician and play drums in a band.
Marcos García Guzman
Born in 1984 and raised in Mastatal, Costa Rica, Marcos’ knowledge of the environment springs from his lifelong experience working in the local forests and farms and is grounded in courses he has taken in ecology, agriculture, and organic farming. Marcos has been a primary school English teacher, taught Spanish to individuals and groups from countries around the world, and has a certificate in carpentry earned through helping build the Mastatal Community Center.
Marcos is deeply committed to his community, having served in local government in the past and today he is a volunteer guide and caretaker for Costa Rica’s National Park Service in La Cangreja National Park. Marcos established Finca Siempre Verde as a way to share his experiences and techniques in sustainable building and organic farming with his local and global community. He guides groups of students, primarily university-level, focusing on topics such as biology, wildlife, sustainability, culture and community service.
Marcos enjoys nature photography, has traveled to Seattle to speak students at the University of Washington, and is a sincere and knowledgeable teacher and naturalist who will inspire you to fully experience the natural and cultural wonders of rural Costa Rica.
Osvaldo Padilla Ledesma
Osvaldo was born in the province of San Jose, and for part of his life lived in another beautiful province, Limon. He currently resides in Heredia, and enjoys spending as much time as possible with his family.
Osvaldo’s interests include photography, water sports (particularly sea kayaking), hiking, running & cycling and the Great Outdoors. He enjoys reading and seeing a good movie with drinks, popcorn or any other snack or munchies, either at the theater or home with his family.
As a guide, Osvaldo draws on his enjoyment of birding, photography, plants, politics, and culture. “You might say I am a born naturalist, especially of Costa Rica, my beloved country. As a child, I absorbed all the principles that my parents taught me. I learned to grow food, observe the secrets of the forest, respect the forest and learned to commune with Mother Nature. When nature is respected and cared for, it is one of our greatest treasures. My life experiences directed me to becoming a naturalist guide. Since 1991, I have had the opportunity to share my love, knowledge and experiences of my beloved Costa Rica with anyone who visits. I invite you to come to Costa Rica to learn, explore and love my beautiful and intriguing country as much as I do. “Pura Vida!”
Alexander “Alex” Álvarez Rojas
Born in 1973, Alex grew up in La Virgen, Sarapiquí and is one of five children. He loves all sorts of activities - walks, running, bicycling, and particularly scuba diving!
Alex has been guiding since 1992 and enjoys many aspects of guiding - birding, plants, photography, politics, culture, etc. If he weren’t a guide, he would be working at La Selva Biological Station or a similar place focused on research projects. Alex believes travel is important so that one can gain an understanding of other people and their culture. He would love to go to Africa and be able to see the animal migration and to travel to Cocos Island to scuba dive and see the biodiversity there.
“I would like my travelers to go home with a new perception of life. We care for nature but first we need to be better humans, to love and help people, and share our charisma. Nature is so important but it is more important to save the people and stop hurting everyone,” says Alex.
Rocio Vargas Castro
Born in 1974, Rocio lives in the village of San Jeronimo located in central Costa Rica. Rocio lives with her younger sister and nephew, who she describes as her “greatest treasure.” Her ancestors were among the first families to inhabit San Jeronimo and the Castro surname is very common there.
Rocio loves being a tour guide as she likes to meet new people and experience new places. She has worked in various aspects of tourism since 1998. In her work as a guide, Rocio is especially interested in birds and mammals, and loves turtles. She is also interested in anything that relates to Costa Rica’s indigenous cultures.
Rocio is dedicated to making sure travelers have positive experiences during their time in Costa Rica. “I believe traveling and seeing other places allows you to experience a combination of ideas, feelings and experiences. It’s a cultural exchange that gives you the opportunity to grow and expand your knowledge as a person," says Rocio.
Travel is one of Rocio’s hobbies, and she’s traveled and experienced different cultures all over the world. Her dream is to visit India and see glaciers in South America. She also likes to read books and watch movies when not spending time with family or guiding. If she weren’t working as a tour guide, she would be working in environmental education with children.
Humberto was born in 1968 and grew up in the town of Guadalupe in a family or five. His favorite hobby – his passion – is biking. If Humberto isn’t working you can usually find him on his bike!
Humberto has been guiding for almost 20 years. He loves history and is interested in the indigenous people of Costa Rica - their past and what the future holds for them. He also loves nature in general, the flora, fauna and what can be learned from them. He also enjoys comparing the behavior of plants and animals in different climates. If Humberto was not a guide, he might be working as a marine biologist. He would love to see the Great Barrier Reef and is sad that Australia is so far away!
“The number one idea I want to share with travelers is climate change, nothing is like yesterday and we have a sick planet. If we don’t do anything now, tomorrow is going to be too late. Travel is important because it changes our point of view about people, culture, religion, politics, history and nature,” says Humberto.
Denis Chaves Piedra
Born in late 1989, Denis grew up on a farm in a small town on the Caribbean side of the country with two brothers and one sister.
Denis began studying to be a guide when he was in high school and fell in love with guiding as he explored different parts of his country - realizing how diverse and beautiful it is. He enjoys observing cultures and seeing how the life style, customs and food vary by region.
Denis enjoys spending time with his wife and 7-year old son taking nature walks, bird watching, hiking and swimming in the rivers. Denis believes that exploring flora and fauna is great for his life.
Denis also likes to exercise, run, play soccer and adventure activities.
Jennifer Mora Pérez
Jenny was born in 1989 and raised in San Miguel de Puriscal surrounded by nature and peace. She is the oldest of 4 sisters, and to her “family is the most important thing in this life, we are very close”. When she isn’t guiding she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Zumba!, and exploring new places in Costa Rica. She loves to learn, loves nature in general, and has a passion for animals, especially birds and amphibians. Today she lives in the community of Mastatal and focuses time and energy on operating and growing the Finca Siempre Verde project.
Jenny was inspired to become a guide from an experience traveling with students visiting Costa Rica: “When I was 17 years old, I had the chance to have a trip with some North American people from University of Washington, and I realized how interesting it would be in the future to be with people like them, traveling around the country showing them everything that I know; to share with different cultures. I fell in love with the English language and since that time I started learning every day, first by myself and some years later I started my career in Sustainable Tourism at the Universidad Tecnica Nacional…I love what I do , especially because I live in a place where nature surrounds me and I can offer my services in my own town.”
Why is travel important? “It's a good way of learning about everything, culture, nature -- it's a way to educate yourself, and get immersed in an adventure. Traveling helps to open your mind to different situations in life.” Jenny looks forward to the day she can travel to the United States to visit some of the schools and students that have traveled with her…and to seeing snow for the first time!
Frank was born in 1966 and grew up in San José, Costa Rica. He has dedicated much of his life to working and volunteering in environmental education and is particularly interested in the biology and conservation of cetaceans.
Frank studied marine biology at the National University of Costa Rica and is involved in research on the migration of humpback whales along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Since 1999, he has worked as a research assistant for the Cascadia Research Collective and a scientific guide for the Oceanic Society Expeditions. He has a written and designed a booklet on humpback whales for children and published a picture field guide for whale watching in Costa Rica.
Deeply committed to conservation and environmental education, Frank is a founding member and the actual coordinator of the cetacean program of VIDA, the Costa Rican Environmental Association, founded in 1988. Frank’s wife is German and they have a teenage son, Sebastian. Frank has been working as a naturalist guide in Costa Rica for 20 years.
José “Chepe” Villalobos
Born in 1975, José (Chepe) grew up in Heredia on a coffee plantation. He now lives in Sarapiqui with his wife of 19 years, Mayra Alpizar, and their three children, Daniel, Sebastián, and Adrián.
“I love what I do because it gives me the opportunity to share my country with foreigners. A country like Costa Rica is simply wonderful in culture and nature. When I’m not guiding, I devote myself to my family, volunteer at my children’s school and work on our farm in the middle of the cows! I live a full and very successful life,” says Chepe.
Shirley Sequeira Montero
Shirley was born in 1982, in what she believes is the happiest month – December. She grew up in Guapiles, a rural area, with crystal clear rivers, green pastures, and beautiful rainforest. Her family of 13 includes her grandparents, two sisters, two brothers-in-law, three nephews, one uncle, two cousins, and her mom. Since Shirley was young, her grandparents lived on a farm with pigs, cows, horses, chickens. They just celebrated 63 years of marriage - a marvelous gift for all of them!
“I can’t imagine not working as a guide. I like the variety of experiences and working in the natural environment," says Shirley. In her time off, she likes to do nothing at all…or hike, dance, watch TV, see a movie or visit her best friend in lovely Monteverde. Shirley’s dream is to see the beauty of European countries and experience the spirituality of the Middle East and Holy Land. China and Africa are also on her bucket list.
Born in 1975, Manuel Jinesta was raised in Guapiles, located on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. He lives in San Jose with his wife and two children. Manuel enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music, and traveling to the countryside to spend time in nature. He has a particular interest in plants and animals. For Manuel, travel and visiting new places are priceless opportunities that make a difference in the world. “They help us appreciate what we have and value the differences we encounter,” says Manuel. Manuel loves to guide and share his country with travelers. If he weren’t working as a guide, he’d like to be a physician.
Eloy Castro Rojas
Eloy was born in 1964 and grew up in the rural community of Zarcero. He’s been involved in guiding and tourism for over 15 years. These days when he’s not busy guiding, you can usually find him working away on his passion project – creating a certified organic farm about 20 kilometers from his house. He keeps in shape by biking there at least 3 times a week.
Eloy is a fan of Tibetan philosophy, and believes that when you travel you learn, you tolerate, you’re surprised and you value and appreciate what you have at home. “To live on little is wonderful. Life is not to have, it is to be,” says Eloy
Eloy cares for his mother in the home they share in Zarcero.
Inti Hughes Cartigny
Inti was born in 1984 and has been guiding for almost half his life. He lives in the central part of Costa Rica with his wife and two daughters.
Inti loves trees and being in the forest. He especially enjoys showing the wonders of Costa Rican nature to travelers and helping them learn to appreciate being in the jungle. His love for Costa Rica drives him in his work, and as a parent. Inti’s hope for his daughters, is to enjoy the beauty and culture of the country as he does. In addition to Costa Rica and his girls, Inti has a real passion for riding his bicycle all over his beautiful country.
David Rosales was born and raised in the old colonial city of Granada. David comes from a small family with “great family values” and is recently married.
David graduated from the University in Managua with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Although he studied engineering, David found his passion in Nicaragua’s growing tourism industry. He loves history and nature - especially bird watching - and decided to make it his career. Working as a guide for more than 10 years, David has learned to speak English and bit of French. David is certified by the Institute of Tourism of Nicaragua.
“I describe myself as enthusiastic, fun, easy-going, happy, charismatic, kind and overall a person who loves what he does,” says David. In his time off, he loves sharing time with his wife, working in his garden, being with his animals and reading.