As a company that has worked hard to be sustainable from its humble beginning in 1992, Aguas Bravas is pleased to currently be a part of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Program – CST (Certifiacion de Sostenibilidad Turisitca) designed by the Costa Rican Board of Tourism – ICT (Instituto Costarricense de Turismo).
Our sustainable policies include:
Protecting Customer Information:
We are careful to respect the privacy of each of our clients. All payments made for tours are processed either as direct bank deposits or through the online payment service, PayPal. In this way, our staff never has the credit card information of any client, to completely avoid any possibility of misuse. The email addresses we obtain from direct email contacts, or left by the client on waivers and comment forms are never sold to any third party. They are only used internally to follow up on customer service received, send pictures or other details requested, and to send occasional new offers. We promise not to bombard our clients with unrelated or unwanted emails.
Complying with all Costa Rican and International Laws and Ethical Codes:
In this area we refer to fair competition, equal opportunity employment with a strong preference of hiring people from the local communities were we operate, complying with all labor laws, providing safe and pleasant work environments for our staff, with all of the legal benefits, paying our due taxes to the government, maintaining fair business relationships with our service providers and agencies as well as with our competitors, honest marketing, supporting all human rights laws, and all laws which help to protect our natural resources and the mystical beauty of our country. We are careful to protect children from sexual exploitation, and offer each of our clients, whether from Costa Rica or around the world, the excellent, professional, and respectful service they deserve.
We want each of our employees, customers, providers, families, and communities to be aware of this legislation, and join us in supporting these laws to protect that which is most valuable on this earth; people – of all ages, colors, and religions, the natural resources which make Costa Rica the paradise it is – rivers, lakes, mountains, volcanoes, forests, and countless species of flora and fauna, as well as the cultural and archeological heritage of our country – to be sure we don’t lose our unique identity and charm as the country continues to develop and be influenced by people from around the world.
Some of these important laws are:
Human Rights: We accept and respect all fundamental human rights recognized nationally and internationally, including those found in the United Nations’ Universal Human Rights Declaration, International Work Organization, and World Pact. Among these rights, Aguas Bravas places special importance on those such as no discrimination for race, color, creed, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or disabilities, the right to freedom of opinions and expressions, and the right to not suffer. Therefore when hiring none of the above are factors in the employee selection process. We do not hire minors, nor participate in forced labor of any kind. Aguas Bravas will not tolerate any work conditions which do not respect these human rights, and has a strict sexual harassment policy in place. As well, all clients’ human rights will be respected by all of the Aguas Bravas staff at all times. Any violations of these policies should be reported to Aguas Bravas’ management and will be investigated and punished appropriately depending on the severity of the violation.
The Disability Law #7600 – Providing equal opportunities for disabled people. Aguas Bravas makes every attempt to customize our tour to accommodate physical and mental limitations whenever possible, without putting the safety of the disabled person or our other customers at risk. Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, though we have offered excellent rafting tours to deaf-mutes, blind people, people with limited or no use of their legs, and other limitations. It is important to note that good upper body strength is very necessary, and that we will not be able to accommodate in every case, when due to a combination of the specific disability and the day’s river conditions we are not able to guarantee safety. In these instances our head guide has the power to make the ultimate decision.
The Sexual Harrasment Law #7476- We fully believe that each person, male or female, has the right to work and play in environments in which they feel safe, happy, and at ease. Therefore, in compliance with this law, each of our staff members have been trained in treating each other and clients with complete respect, and are aware that sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Our guides are also expected to uphold a high moral ethic at all times, on and off the clock, and we do not permit sexual relationships of any guide with customers during or after the tour. Such practices are punishable up to and including termination of employment.
Law Against the Sexual Trafficking of Children – For Aguas Bravas, protecting children is one of our top priorities. We comply fully with all laws that protect children from labor and from sexual commercialization. Aguas Bravas does not hire minors. We do not permit our clients to be Costa Rican minors in the presence of foreign adults where there is no obvious family or educational relationship, especially in the case of having any reason to suspect an unnatural and unhealthy relationship between the 2 parties, and report all suspicions to the OIJ for further investigation. We would rather over-protect and be wrong than for a child to be harmed for our omission. We make it clear to all of our employees, clients, providers, and families that sex with minors is illegal in Costa Rica and is punishable with jail time.
We adamantly declare that the boy, girl, or adolescent is never responsible and should never be blamed for any actions taken against them or that they are obligated to participate in by their abusers. In addition that sexually abused and exploited children also have had many of their other rights violated as well, such as the right to physical and mental health, education, family life, and recreation, therefore these rights must also be restituted. We believe that the protection of the children in our communities and country is not the sole responsibility of the government, nor only the families, but is a combined responsibility of the entire country, and therefore do our part.
Aguas Bravas forms part of the Paniamor Foundation’s Code of Conduct, and invites and motivates our commercial relationships to join in the protection of our children and teens as well.
The Archeological Heritage Law #6307 – In protection of the cultural and archeological heritage of Costa Rica, we comply with this law, and do not permit the removal or destruction of any elements of archeological or cultural importance by our staff or clients, and report any instances of damage or destruction to our national heritage to the National Museum for further criminal investigation.
The Wildlife Conservation Law # 7495, passed on May 3, 1995 – We make it a priority to teach each of our clients about some of the beauties found in the areas where we operate our tours, helping each of them to learn about and fall in love with the impressive flora and fauna of our country. Our staff is trained to not take part in nor permit the removal or damage of any of these species, and take very seriously the opportunity to encourage our clients to respect this law wherever they travel in Costa Rica and around the world. Other related laws include #7554 Organic Law, and the Protection of Endangered Species of the CITES Treaty.
Ilegal Substance Trafficking and Consumption Law #8204 – Our staff is aware of the reaches of this law, and have signed contracts that they will not consume, sell, nor purchase illegal substances while working for Aguas Bravas, and that any such actions will not be tolerated.
Forestry Law -As with the Wildlife Conservation Law, our entire team is committed to preserving our rainforests, and we organize and support several activities per year including reforestation, river clean ups, and other environmental protection activities and committees. We do not cut any trees for use in our constructions, and are pleased to build and operate among the natural areas rather than removing them for corporate expansion.
Environmental Law – We work hard to minimize our impact on the environment, by using not fossil fuels in our tours, and offsetting the consumption of gasoline with regular reforestation, river clean ups, recycling programs, eliminating the usage of plastic beverage bottles, and carefully choosing the products we serve and the tours we offer to be sure not to upset the natural balance of the ecosystems around us. In addition to complying with all the regulations established for the Use of Protected Areas, Adventure Activities, and those established in the CITES (International Commercializing of Endangered Species) Treaty.
Internal Labor Practices: All Aguas Bravas personnel are expected to respect the values of the Company, work as a team to meet Company goals, demonstrate personal responsibility and initiative, be honest, punctual, and have a strong work ethic. As a smaller company, we expect each employee to be multi-functional and willing to help wherever needed. All employees are also expected to care about the environment and that their actions on and off the clock show that dedication, to follow all of the ordinances and laws that regulate our business and our country, and to comply with all company policies, including doing their part in reducing consumption of electricity and water. Aguas Bravas in exchange offers competitive salaries with benefit packages, a safe and pleasant work environment, and the opportunity for personal growth with continuous on the job training as well as working to accommodate schedules for employees who wish to further their education. It is each employee’s responsibility to adhere to and promote this Code of Conduct, as well as inform the management of any problems which may rise in doing so, or of any violations of the code. The management is responsible for investigating and analyzing each complaint, its nature, validity, and severity, and take appropriate corrective action. Depending on the severity of the case in question, corrective action may include up to an including termination of employment and legal ramifications.
Environment and Heritage: We see ourselves as natural defenders of the environment. The tours we operate cause little or no impact on the environment because we are dedicated to not operate any tour which uses gasoline or other fossil fuels to operate such as motorized boats, ATVs, Jet Skis, etc. We maintain our group sizes to under 30 people in the river at any one time, except in a few cases of large groups travelling together which do not have the schedule availability to be split in separate tours. In these cases, we carefully analyze each situation and choose the best operation times to avoid upsetting the animals found around the river. We do not serve water or juice on the river to avoid the excess of plastic waste, instead just a delicious buffet of fresh fruit grown locally. In new construction, Aguas Bravas is careful to avoid the purchase of any species in danger of extinction or illegal materials, and not to cut down trees around the river or in forested areas. We do not keep any animals in cages, terrariums, or any other sort of confinement, believing that like you, the animals deserve to be free, and then they will willingly be there for you to observe and admire.
Waste Disposal Law #8889 – We are vigilant in reducing, recycling, and reusing waste products, and in properly disposing of those that cannot be reused or recycled.
• Reducing – by eliminating the plastic water and juice bottles once offered in our tours we have been able to reduce our plastic waste by over 5000 bottles a year. Instead our guests are treated to a fresh and colorful fruit buffet purchased daily from local farmers. In our related restaurant, we sell only glass bottled beverages, and purchase other products in large and recyclable containers. We carefully maintain our operations and inventories to avoid over-purchasing. In our office, we limit the printing of documents, emails, and other information to only that which is absolutely necessary to have in printed form. We have established accounting processes which allow us to bill most of our clients electronically, and do no not send our clients any printed material prior to their activity. Waivers are designed to allow for 18 signatures per page, limiting excessive paper. We severely limit our production of brochures and flyers, to reduce the high costs and impact on the environment form excessive paper and ink. Instead we use digital marketing, print posters and catalogs, and purchase lasting marketing items, instead of disposable options.
• Reusing – in our office, unneeded papers are used to make scratch pads and to print on the reverse side. Plastic, aluminum, and wood waste are donate to local artists who create their art with these products, and are invited to exhibit or sell these products during the lunch period of our tours.
• Recycling – all of our waste products are separated for appropriate disposal. Organic waste, from the fruit served, and from the restaurant are separated and used to create organic compost. Recyclable products beyond those received by the artists are taken to the local recycling center for their processing. Waste products which are not appropriate for any of the above are collected for regular garbage disposal and set out for trash pick-up twice a week.
Our Providers: Aguas Bravas makes every effort to contract and subcontract providers which share similar values in the areas of environment and human rights as ours, and which adhere to the aforementioned laws. We are vigilant to monitor their actions in these areas and will go to all extents of the law to bring to justice anyone who has infringed upon these laws and it is brought to our attention; be it with regards to Environmental and Archeological Protection, Law 7600 in protection of the disabled, Sexual Harassment, Child Exploitation, or Drug Trafficking.
Getting the message out: Each of our employees receives thorough training on these laws and the company’s dedication to their compliance, as well as ways in which they can each make a difference. This training is part of the induction process, as well as part of regular meetings and emails where articles of interest, updates in the laws or company policies, or other pertinent information is shared.
Our guides have a double duty, because in addition to following these regulations, they are responsible to get the message out to each client that visits our installations and/ or our tours. In this way, we contribute to the strategic focus of marketing our country’s image, highlighting the fact that Costa Rica is a country which is dedicated to the conservation of the ecosystems, environmental education, and the protection of our people of all ages. Our principal agencies also have this information so that they can also help to divulge this message to their clients even before their arrival to Costa Rica.