By Shannon Farley Horizontes Nature Tours last month celebrated 34 years of introducing tourists to unforgettable experiences all over Costa Rica. Always a vanguard in the Costa Rican tourism industry, Horizontes Tours is still today on the cusp of innovation, quality, social responsibility and unique Costa Rica tours. “We opened 34 years ago, in 1984, created by two women who loved ecotourism. The company’s love for nature and respect for cultures has always been present,” said Federico Solano, Horizontes Tours Marketing Director. “We always look to do new things and for new products. Horizontes is about authentic experiences rather than mass tourism.” For instance, Horizontes Nature Tours helped develop rural community-based tourism in Costa Rica’s spectacular Osa Peninsula region – home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity – with the formation of the Caminos de Osa program and association. Horizontes’ Barefoot Luxury collection features 20 of the respected agency’s favorite hotels and unique activities in Costa Rica. Travelers can enjoy such signature moments as a torch-lit dinner on a jungle beach or in a rainforest garden, a hot-air balloon ride over the Arenal Volcano, or a picnic basket with wine and local cheeses and snacks at an impromptu scenic sunset stop during a guided tour. Barefoot Luxury Tours include such adventures as: “Blending the exhilaration of camping with the rich comforts and services of a beach hotel, Isla Chiquita was created to offer travelers and adventure seekers a deep connection to the land, ocean, cuisine and down-to-earth lifestyle of the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica.” “Our clients like learning and like unique experiences,” noted Federico. “Our company started off working with groups from well-known universities in the USA who were interested in researching the biodiversity of Costa Rica. And today, we have a very strong offering of experiential academic travel programs for universities and high schools.” Horizontes recently began offering a Clean Energy Costa Rica Tour, guided by Costa Rica energy expert, Rodolfo Vanderlatt. Costa Rica is known around the world for producing nearly 100% of its energy by renewable sources. The country also is the principal wind energy producer in Central America, and ranks third in Latin America for geothermal capacity. The new three-day tour visits several of Costa Rica’s hydroelectric and geothermal plants, as well as areas with wind turbines, solar and biomass energy production. Over the past three decades, Horizontes Nature Tours has pushed for sustainability before the concept was even popular. They were the first tour operator to receive the top qualifications of “5 Leaves” in Costa Rica’s Certificate of Sustainable Tourism (CST) program. Additionally, Horizontes opened a private foundation in 2009 dedicated to sustainable environmental and social projects. “We are passionate about life in all its forms; thus, we develop projects that promote love and respect for it. Our foundation was created as the result of the responsibility and commitment of Horizontes Nature Tours with Costa Rica. Our purpose is to promote funding for projects that can help improve the quality of life of our people and our environment,” states company information. Horizontes Foundation projects include such things as tree planting, recycling, and community volunteering. One of their flagship programs is Women with Future (Mujeres con Futuro), which provides training for 1,200 women from impoverished areas in Costa Rica in personal leadership, financial education and entrepreneurship. One thing tourists can be sure of when they travel with Horizontes Nature Tours is that the close-knit and highly esteemed top Costa Rica travel agency has never lost sight of its mission through the years: “We inspire the enjoyment, fulfillment, and personal discovery of our guests through responsibly designed and operated travel programs that provide meaningful experiences with the nature and people of Costa Rica.