This four week summer program offers you an enriching and inspiring experience in Costa Rica. During the four weeks you will get to experience trekking the rim of volcanoes in a National Park, walking through clouds in the world renowned Cloud Forest, exploring coffee plantations and an overnight trek around the Osa Peninsula. After these first two weeks of nature- based learning, you will be involved with a week long service learning project at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. Here, you will get to provide service for those animals who are impacted by the illegal animal trade. After a week of hard work and animal snuggles, head over to Jaco beach where you will get to try your hand at surfing. This is no ordinary surf camp though; you will get one on one coaching with video analysis of how to improve your riding! This journey will end on the idyllic white sands of Esterillos where you will have your program wrap and heartfelt goodbye with group members.
Experience a summer program where you will not only get to explore this amazing country of Costa Rica, but you will get to expand yourself personally. The nature-based activities will have you challenging new heights, pushing through humidity amongst the clouds, feeling the rain forest watching you and seeing new wildlife. Moving onto the service learning aspect, you will get to experience first hand the impacts that you can make for other living creatures. Finally, learn or improve a skill which will have you wanting to ride the surf for the rest of your life!
Or maybe you want to stay closer to home? Have a look at our Hawaii Program
Take a peek outside the plane window to get your first glimpse of Central America as you arrive to San Jose. Start your journey off right by enjoying the most common, delicious local cuisine, Gallo Pinto. Wake up to the sights, sounds and smells of a Latino capital! San Jose is surrounded by lush rainforests and is home to just 300,000 people. San Jose is a busy commercial hub surrounded by amazing rainforest mountains behind. Amidst the small, winding streets you will get to see a great mix of European architecture.
There are lots of things to keep you busy on your first full day in country! Getting to know your group will be a priority, as well as familiarising yourself with the culture and history of Costa Rica. Take some exploration time in San Jose with your instructors while you exchange money, meet with your in-country operators who will provide you with more important information for the rest of the program. Your instructors will facilitate some important orientation topics over the course of the day as well.
Dollars can be used as a primary currency in Costa Rica and only small amounts of local currency are required.
Leave the city life behind for your first nature-based activity. Located in the north-western corner of the country, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is classified as tropical dry forest. It is a fascinating area with plenty of exploration opportunities - climb the main massif or head out on one of the many circular routes to waterfalls, mud pools and hot springs. Fumaroles are also found here due to the high level of volcanic activity. Your first afternoon here can be supplemented with an optional horseback ride, allowing you to explore deeper around the ranch that you will stay on for the duration of your time in Rincon de la Vieja. As you spend the night getting to know your group more, the next two days will be spent trekking through Rincon on the numerous trails.
Day 6. Travel to Monteverde
Enjoy the scenic 2.5 hour drive from Rincon de la Vieja to Montverde. Monteverde is a world-renowned cloud forest, meaning that the majority of time the humidity reaches 100%. Be prepared for some winding roads on the way as you climb hundreds of meters to the park.
The Monteverde cloud forest offers lots of different trekking options. Camp in remote huts and trek out the next day or be based in a single campsite, but whichever choice our instructors make, keep an eye out for some of the diverse flora and fauna on offer throughout the cloud forest. For a more peaceful time, the Santa Elena Reserve is smaller, has fewer visitors than the main Monteverde Reserve and has an excellent network of short trails to follow whilst you acclimatise to the area. Look out for orchids whilst you trek.
Fun fact: Monteverde has the highest number of species of orchids in the world. It also is home to what we know as “The Great Divide” meaning that as you stand on the separation between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, you will be in two continents at once!
We will also top off our time in Monteverde by visiting an ecological sanctuary, orchid/butterfly garden, serpentarium or by going to an activity park which offers things like ziplining and high ropes courses. The next day we make our way down from the clouds as we take a bus from Monteverde to San Jose. Enjoy the rest of the day exploring the city, trying new foods and shopping amid the colourful market stalls.
The Osa Peninsula is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world;
this small peninsula alone is home to over half of Costa Rica’s species. If it’s wildlife you’re after, we’ll find it here.
The Osa’s terrain is entirely jungle so be prepared for the high temperatures and humidity but don’t let that distract you from admiring the wildlife! Guides from our trek provider are experts on the local flora and fauna and will point out everything of interest - such as the scarlet macaw which is very common to this area. We’ll complete our trek by emerging out of the jungle onto a white sand Pacific Coast beach, complete with lush camp ground, palm trees and warm surf.
Indulge in some rest and relaxation in Drake’s Bay. Regardless of how we want to spend our day, a water based activity is the perfect opportunity for some well deserved R&R. Here we have a choice of activities: we might go kayaking, snorkeling, try our hand at SCUBA diving or maybe hop on a whale watching tour. As a group we will decide.
Travel back up the coast line to Cebadilla, to where we will be undertaking our animal rescue volunteering! This rescue centre is home to a variety of animals that were rescued from the illegal animal trade, which is unfortunately still functioning in parts of the country. The goal is to help the animals recover from both physical and psychological wounds that have arisen from their past suffering. During the stay we’ll support the centre with volunteer work such as working in the animal kitchen, assisting with the sloth garden, helping with the compost and enriching their homes. We’re sure that by the end of the week you’ll feel as at home at the centre as the animals and won’t want to leave!
From the animal rescue centre we make our way to Playa Jaco, for our four day surf camp! Jaco beach is known to be the “mecca of surfing” in Costa Rica, so rest assured you’re in a desirable location and in safe hands!
Designed for surfers of all abilities, the well established Tortuga Surf Camp provides lessons, core power workshops and personal coaching for all! The surf camp accommodation is well equipped for when you vacate the surf, with ample hang out spaces and a swimming pool. It’s located a short walk from the town centre, enabling us to spend our down time eating local food, soaking up the sun and exploring this awesome beach town by foot.
We will spend our final day in Jaco furthering exploring the coastline, surfing or swimming in the warm, salty Pacific Ocean. We will be taking advantage of all that the surrounding area has to offer.
Experience the idyllic beaches as we spend our last couple of days on the program in Esterillos. Reflecting on our program with our group members will be an important aspect whilst here. Aside from that spend as much time as you want absorbing that salty sea and delicious food!
Getting off the plane, you’ll be bursting with stories and photos to keep family and friends entertained for hours! Saying goodbye to your team will be harder than you’d imagine as you’ll have become lifelong friends but the excitement of a shower, clean sheets, a comfy bed and catching up on all the news at home will make it easier.
Open to students and non-students, ideally 15 - 17 years. This program is suitable for anyone of average fitness with an enthusiasm for the outdoors, conservation and new experiences. You need to be committed to, and prepared for, some physical work whilst on the volunteer components of the program i.e. trail building or the removal of invasive plants and while on the outdoor activities, be prepared to give-it-a-go. As a guideline, you should aim to be comfortable hiking 4-6 hours with a backpack. You don’t need to have had previous experience with any of the activities offered.
The program is a shared group experience. We expect you to join the program with an open mind and a willingness to work together with your group mates to make the program an amazing experience for the whole group. Additionally, the program will be as much about the inner journey of personal growth and learning about yourself as it is about what you will experience in the outer physical journey. We expect you to be open to learning and challenging your ideas and assumptions.
Our accommodation will be a mixture of camping (tents supplied) and comfortable and clean hostels and lodges. Laundry and WiFi facilities will be available most days, except during the weeks in the field on the volunteer projects and on expeditions. Accommodation is diverse, comfortable and carefully chosen to fit our needs.
Meals are fresh, tasty, healthy and varied. Special dietary requirements and vegetarians are catered for. All meals are included in the program cost. Food preparation, shared by all students, is fun, social and often a highlight.