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. Your ability to manage trekking and overnight plans will greatly develop during this portion. 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!
Take a peek outside the plane window to get your first glimpse of Central America as you arrive to San Jose. Once you have cleared immigration, take authorized taxis to the pre-booked hostel where you will be staying for your first night. 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 rain forests and is home to just 300,000 people. San Jose is a busy commercial hub surrounded by amazing rain forest 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 familiarizing yourself with the culture and history of Costa Rica. Take some exploration time in San Jose 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. Take care while you are out exploring the city and look after each other!
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 itinerary is in your hands. There are lots of options for your team to choose from in terms of trekking options, but make sure it's adventurous as you’re likely to be in Rincon only once!
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 your team lots of different trekking options. Choose to camp in remote huts and trek out the next day or to be based in a single campsite, but whichever choice you 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 acclimatize 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!
You could also top off your 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.
Make your way down from the clouds as you take a bus from Monteverde to San Jose today. Enjoy the rest of the day exploring the city, trying new foods and shopping amid the colorful market stalls.
South of the San Jose is a district know as Santa Maria de Dota. This district is working extremely hard on increasing the standards of emissions from companies. While here, you will calculate the carbon footprint of your entire expedition and contribute to offsetting that carbon by planting indigenous trees in the areas surrounding the town. Enjoy the local coffee culture as you get to experience the area with Coopedota, a zero-emissions coffee company which offers an insight into a sustainable production farm.
Today, sit back and enjoy the 4.5 hour journey to the southernmost location you will explore in Costa Rica. Located on the edge of the Osa Peninsula, Puerto Jimenez has lots to offer you before heading into the wilderness of the forest. Take the time you have during the journey to prepare yourself mentally for the challenge that lies ahead.
Osa Peninsula trek. The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biodiverse 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, you'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 your 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.
You’ll complete your 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 you want to spend your day, a water based activity is the perfect opportunity for some well deserved R&R. Here you have a choice of activities: you might like to go kayaking, snorkelling, try your hand at SCUBA diving or maybe hop on a whale watching tour.
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 you to spend your down time eating local food, soaking up the sun and exploring this awesome beach town by foot.
Spend your final day in Jaco furthering exploring the coastline, surfing or swimming in the warm, salty Pacific Ocean. Any activities you choose are optional so make sure to have a good look into all that the surrounding area has to offer.
Experience the idyllic beaches as you spend your last couple of days on the program in Esterillos. Reflecting on your program with your 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.