18 Biological Siblings (Almost All Grew Up To Be ‘Outdoor Guides’ In Costa Rica)

They were raised in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The closest paved road was a 4-hour walk. Eighteen brothers and sisters growing up in nature in the 1970s and 80s, far off-grid.

But the Lopez family today has integrated itself into one of the most worldly of industries, adventure travel, where a large percentage of the siblings work as outdoor guides in the wilderness near where they were born.

We learned about the Lopez family from Chill Expeditions, a company that has run “eco immersion” trips in Costa Rica for almost 20 years. (We worked with Chill on a project, sponsored by CamelBak, last fall to send a reader on a weeklong trip.)

Trekking into the mountains in Costa Rica

Chill employs a few of the Salazars for its trips. In total, the siblings’ names are Enrique, Madgalena, Sonya, Meri, Marielos, Sandra, Laura, Felipe, Santiago, Antonio, Diego, Eva, Abraham, Pablo, Ormidas, Ricardo, Manuela, and Gabriel.

We caught up with one of Chill’s main Costa Rican guides, and a member of the Lopez clan, Felipe Lopez Salazar, age 34. He was born, like his siblings, in Juntas de Pacuar, San Isidro de General, and he still lives and works there today.

Felipe collaborates with Chill via his business, Autentico Adventures, on wilderness trips, and new this year Chill offers a “Trekking Costa Rica Off the Beaten Path” trip. It tours cloud forests and rural villages on a two-week, change-your-life itinerary. (See all details on the trekking trip here.)

Felipe Lopez Salazar on a whitewater run

Trekkers with Felipe will head deep into the rainforest. You might meet some of his siblings along the way as well.

We caught up with Felipe to ask a few questions on life in the jungle as a man literally born into his line of work. —Stephen Regenold

Tell us about your family business.
The majority of my brothers and sisters are involved in tourism. I run a family business and support my parents and aunts and uncles. Several of my siblings have worked with Chill Expeditions.

How long have you worked with Chill?
Me and my siblings have worked with and guided for Chill Expeditions since 2007. I serve as a local guide for several of the activities that comprise portions of the itineraries.

Tell us about where you and your siblings grew up.
It’s in the rainforest, a two-hour trip in a 4×4 to a paved road. Or it’s a 4-hour hike. We grew up in nature. We raised our own sugarcane, beans, yucca, and corn.

Felipe Lopez Salazar

What are some of the activities trekkers will experience?
Rafting and rappelling are a couple exciting ones. We also do remote hiking expeditions in the rainforest. They last from 3 to 7 days depending on the group.

What do you offer to Chill on these trips that is unique?
My family grew up here. I have a knowledge of the deep jungle, and this includes safety training and survival skills.

How did being raised here translate into skills used on the job as a guide?
Growing up in a rural wilderness environment, I learned to live off the land. It is my home.

—Learn more about Felipe, the Lopez family, and Costa Rica trekking on the Chill Expeditions page.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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