Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


March 02, 2008

Vinzenz Schmack

Owner - Laguna del Lagarto Lodge (

Today’s Date: February 19, 2008

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

I grew-up at farm and surrounded by woods and had many encounters with wild animals

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

Yes the woods behind the farm of my parents

Now? The rainforest behind my Lodge

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is and why?

Tapir, because it still lives in the wild in the area of our Lodge

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

How to preserve the tropical rainforests and the tendencies to build mire and more luxuries hotels. Simplicity is no longer in demand. You have to be luxuries in order to attract attention.

5. If you could give one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

Buy a part of a rainforest,

Eco-Tourism Myth and Reality

“Eco” is a fashionable label and everybody uses it whenever possible and of course it is used most widely in Tourism. Who does not want to call his Hotel or Travel Agency “Eco-tourism”? It sounds so much better and people are so much more attracted by such a fashionable word.

However, reality shows that people prefer or are dragged by the Travel Agencies to the same old overcrowded mass tourist resorts equipped with state of the art bars, discos and other entertainment, which, of course, must be big, luxurious and expensive.

The true “Off the Beaten Track”, isolated lodges have a hard time to make ends meet. Travel Agencies do not want to expose their clients to a bad road or even risk being bitten by a mosquito or other possible inconveniences nature might surprise you. And, no doubt, they make a better deal by bringing people to more expensive luxury hotels than to the modestly priced Eco-Lodges.

Advertising Costa Rica, the official Tourist Board, came out with the nice slogan “without artificial ingredients”. However in their official annual MAGAZIN “NATURALLY COSTA RICA”, only the large chain luxury hotels can afford to advertise and are they not full of artificial ingredients? For the puff luxury decoration, radio, TV, VHS, Mini-Bar and so on., the price has to be $ 150.- plus.

The many ecological institutions who operate in Costa Rica contribute to this trend and channel the student groups to overcrowded places like Monteverde, Tortuguero, and Manuel Antonio and prefer places with paved trails through the Rain Forest like in “La Selva”, which is not the concept of ecotourism.

The big companies offer their employees Incentive Tours, but would not dream of choosing a true Ecolodge. Instead they send them to 5 star luxury Hotel with swimming pool, jaccussi, golf course and health spa, where they spend a lot of money and come back just as tired as when left the office. They still have not come up to the idea that sometimes the employees would rather prefer a quiet, unspoiled and natural retreat where they would regain time to gather strength and peace to their bodies and minds.

We believe that the true meaning of Eco-Tourism is to go back to nature, accept simplicity, and be content with a clean, simple, but comfortable room and facilities and accept for a while the inconveniences of a dirt road, a muddy trail through the lush Rain Forest and (why not?) some rain, too. As a reward you are overwhelmed by the beauty and exuberance of nature, instead of the noisy and overcrowded places one finds in every big cities. Something has to be done to re-orient tourists to the true eco-lodges to enjoy the wonders of nature and if the so-called Eco-Travel Agencies stick to their Logo, they should also include in their programs true eco-lodges in isolated areas.

We, owners of small Eco-lodges, do not want to deny the “eco-tourists” the right to spend their vacation in one of the many luxury hotels according to their means. But, if they really want to practice Eco-tourism, our suggestion is that they should at least spend a couple of nights in a true Eco-lodge in an isolated area and pay respect to Mother Nature.

Vinzenz Schmack
Owner of “La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge”

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