Navigate through rainforests and marine reserves a journey of biodiversity, adventure, and insight.
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 through multiple National Parks, walking through clouds in the world-renowned Cloud Forest, volunteering in wildlife refuges and overnight camping in Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Get involved with a volunteer learning project at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center where 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 high up in the cloud in the incredible Monteverde Cloud Forest.
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. With our service projects you will get to experience first-hand the impacts that you can make for other living creatures. Finally, learn (or improve on) a skill which will have you wanting to ride the surf of the ocean for the rest of your life!
This summer abroad program is suitable for high school graduates, gap year students, university students and graduates, ideally 18 – 24 years. Optional transferable academic credit is available on this program.
This program can be combined with Fall or Spring semester program options in other regions of the world (Nepal & Tibet, South America, Central America, New Zealand & Australia) for an in-depth and enriching global gap year.
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.
Getting to know your group will be our priority, as well as familiarising yourself with the culture and history of Costa Rica. Your instructors will facilitate some important orientation topics over the course of the next few days as well.
Take a short hope over to Cebadilla, 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!
We’ll spend this week learning how to surf and honing our skills on the Pacific swell in this world-renowned surf mecca, in between exploring the area’s breath-taking beaches. Give your mind a well-deserved rest and kick back on the beach with a coconut, sprinkled with a few amazing sunset hikes and croc encounters along the way.
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.
Rancho Mastatal is an education center in the rural farming town of Mastatal, situated on the edge of the last remaining virgin rainforest of Costa Rica’s beautiful Puriscal County. It is a working permaculture farm, lodge, and community rooted in environmental sustainability, meaningful, place-based livelihoods, and caring relationships. We will be working alongside the community, furthering our permaculture education and learning skills such as fermentation and natural building.
Take an adventurous journey to the very southern point of the Nicoya Peninsula in the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. In this exclusive and remote destination, we connect with National Park rangers and conduct marine conservation work. The days will be spent at the tide pools catching sea turtles, identifying fish, and collecting biological data. When the tide is high, we will head back to the San Miguel station to debrief. This unique conservation experience will stay with you for a lifetime.
You’ll head to a secluded beach in the Nicoya Peninsula to get acquainted with the relaxed pace of life before checking into your yoga and meditation retreat. Each day will bring a further exploration into self-reflection, development and empowerment.
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. Now that you are becoming accustomed to traveling in Costa Rica, the itinerary over the next two days 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!
Your last days will be spent wrapping up the program, digesting your experiences and sharing your final days floating through a cloud forest with some newfound lifelong friends. The Monteverde cloud forest offers your team lots of different trekking options. 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! Finally, make your way down from the clouds as you take a bus from Monteverde to San Jose and depart the country.