Costa Rica (4 weeks): Biodiversity, Ecology & Sustainability

Sustainability and the Environment

The rainforest is your classroom as you learn about conservation in the country with the highest density of biodiversity on Earth. Witness sea turtles and other wildlife. Hike, zip-line, and swim along the way.

Sustainability

Language

Community Service

Certificate

Wildlife

Water Activity

Outdoor Activity

Homestay

DEPARTURE

July 1, 2019

APPLY NOW

Program Description

A remote biological station nestled in the rainforest will be your classroom as you learn about Costa Rica’s efforts to protect the more than 500,000 species of rare tropical birds, indigenous animals, and plants. An experienced Costa Rican naturalist will guide you throughout the program. After zip-lining and hiking your way through the rainforest’s dense canopy, visit the Térraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, one of the largest mangrove systems in Central America, home to a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish.

In, San José, learn about Costa Rican culture with visits to museums and markets. From there, you will visit nature reserves and national parks, kayak in the aquamarine waters of the Golfo Dulce or along the Osa Peninsula, and explore the rainforests of Isla Chira, which has the most intact biodiversity in all of Costa Rica.

Learn more about Costa Rica’s culture and communities during a two-week homestay with a local host family. There, you will take basic Spanish language classes, enjoy nature hikes, and eat meals of gallo pinto. Complete 45+ hours of community service as you work on a project that focuses on rural development, ecological sustainability, or local community.

Following your homestay, you will visit the Ostional Turtle Lodge, a conservation center set near  mangroves where millions of baby turtles hatch every year, to learn about sea turtle conservation efforts. Before your Experiment comes to a close, sail the Pacific on a catamaran with your group.

PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Prerequisite:

None

Dates:

July 1, 2019 - July 29, 2019

Program Fee:

$6,220.00

(does not include airfare)
Group Airfare Cost:

$656.00

Depart/Return City:

Atlanta

Orientation:

San José, 2–3 days

Homestay:

La Palma, Santa María de Dota, or Palmichal de Acosta,* 12–14 days

Other Accommodations:

Hotels, lodges, cabins

Sample Itinerary

  •  
    Days 1–2

    Orientation in San José and Sierpe

    • Learn about the history, culture, and ecology of Costa Rica
    • Go on a walking tour of the city
    • Explore diverse neighborhoods and sample Costa Rican food in street-side cafes
    • Take a bus to Sierpe, and explore the Térraba- Sierpe National Wetland, one of the largest wetlands of Central America.
    • Get to know other members of your group during activities
    • Practice your Spanish language skills

    During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

  •  
    Days 3–8

    Thematic Focus on the Osa Peninsula

    • Visit a model farm practicing sustainable agriculture and practice eco-education projects
    • Go hiking with local naturalists and kayak the calms and deep waters of Golfo Dulce
    • Travel by boat to the Campanario Biological Station and learn about the station’s project to conserve rare and endangered flora and fauna
    • Visit Corcovado National Park and see bat caves, hike trails, and learn about conservation projects in the area
    • Visit a local village

    During this period, you and your group will stay at a farm and biological station.

  •  
    Days 9–22

    Homestay

    • Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Costa Rican family and community.
    • Practice your Spanish language skills
    • Participate in cultural exchange activities
    • Explore your host community and the surrounding area
    • Learn different skills from people in your host community

    Thematic Focus

    • Work on a community service project such as painting at a school

    During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Pejivaye, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria de Dota, Palmares, Carit

  •  
    Days 23–28

    Thematic Focus at a Wildlife Refuge

    • Visit a sea turtle conservation facility and learn about sea turtles and efforts to conserve their habitat and protect their population
    • Patrol the beach and help with habitat rehabilitation (beach cleaning)
    • Work in sea turtle hatcheries
    • Travel by boat to the surrounding area and learn more about the local ecosystem
    • Learn ecology and biodiversity by helping in the construction of a tire wall for soil retention, reforestation and trails maintenance.
    • Enjoy a few days at the beach exploring the North Pacific side of Costa Rica and swimming, hiking, or snorkeling.

    During this period, you and your group will stay in a lodge and spend at least one night at the turtle project site.

  •  
    Day 29

    Program Reflection and Departure at San José

    • Enjoy the ocean views and natural beauty of the bay and enjoy some last-minute shopping
    • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

    During this period, you and your group will stay in centrally located hotels.

    Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above. 

Itinerary is subject to change.

Past Group Leaders

  • Curtis Larsen

    completing a study abroad program in Costa Rica, Curtis decided to pursue his BA in Spanish there. He obtained his degree in Spanish from the Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica, but not before discovering another of his passions: service-learning. Curtis has been privileged to work with university students from the US, Canada, and the UK all around Central America, and he co-founded a nonprofit that still provides volunteer experiences in three countries. Now back in the US, Curtis serves as the director of Academic Travel for Ed-Ventures, helping teachers take their students abroad to destinations around the world.

  • Sarita Upadhyay

    A native of upstate New York, Sarita Upadhyay graduated from Cornell University in 2011 with a BS in science of natural and environmental systems. She followed her love of the outdoors to the Amazon in Ecuador, where she coordinated a teaching program, and then to Cuzco, Peru, where she managed logistics and tours for a travel company. She worked on developing green infrastructure projects in Chicago, Illinois, at an urban sustainability-themed think tank before leading The Experiment’s 2014 Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology, and Sustainability program. Currently, Sarita lives in San Francisco, where she studies psychology and works on research in health-related psychological interventions at University of California, San Francisco.

  • Jose Eduardo Huerta

    Jose Eduardo Huerta graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 2011 with a BA in Latin American studies and a minor in education. Since then, he has worked as a career track project coordinator, a substitute teacher, and a graduate research assistant. Eduardo is currently in his second year at the State University of New York Binghamton, pursuing a dual master’s degree in student affairs and public administration.

    As a return leader for The Experiment, Eduardo has led programs to Spain, Chile, and Costa Rica. He began traveling as a junior in college when he spent seven months studying in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most recently, he spent five weeks in China, learning about economic development, sustainability, and innovation. Not only is Eduardo trilingual in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, but he also plans to learn Mandarin in the near future. Eduardo also loves practicing martial arts, being outdoors, trying new foods, meeting new people, and learning from new adventures.

  • Paula Hernandez

    Raised in northern Vermont by a Chilean mother and an American father, Paula grew up bilingual in English and Spanish. She attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she was an American studies major with a concentration in race and ethnicity. During summers throughout college, Paula worked at Farm and Wilderness summer camp as a counselor and trip leader. After obtaining her degree, Paula moved to Valparaíso, Chile, to serve as an elementary school English teacher. Paula herself was an Experimenter in 2007, when she traveled to Turkey for five weeks. Later, in college, she spent a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain. During her time there, she walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage that starts in western France and ends in the westernmost part of Spain. Aside from her love for travel, Paula loves to knit, play basketball, and learn new juggling tricks.

Student Voices

  • This was the craziest, most important, most valuable thing I think I’ve ever done in my life. I loved being an experimenter! I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity! I even feel different now. I understand the way life should be lived: simply, modestly, and to the fullest.

    JoAnna, Carrick high School
  • My trip to Costa Rica was unforgettable. During the four week program, I have tried many things in Costa Rica. Some highlights would include zip lining and kayaking for the first time. These two highlights, but there were many more.

    --Steve
  • During this month abroad, I was able to step out of my comfort zone, meet new people, experience and discover things I’d never thought of! I was able to become immersed in the Costa Rican culture and felt like I was apart of their community as well. In Costa Rica I made very strong connections and bonds with several people, not only in my group, but those who call Costa Rica their home. For example, I truly feel like my homestay family is my real family.

    --Alyssa
  • I came onto the program expecting to learn an immense amount about Costa Rica and about the Spanish language, and left the program happy I had gained so much more. For two weeks on program, there was a homestay portion with a Costa Rican family. While the concept of living with another family feels intimidating initially, I found the homestay to be the most rewarding part of the journey. My family taught me so much more than anything I could have learned without genuine immersion.

    --Theo

Pre-departure Documents

Summer 2019

Congratulations on your upcoming Experiment summer on the Costa Rica: Biodiversity, Ecology & Sustainability program. Visit our pre-departure page for information about our expectations, communications, and travel planning. In early 2019, our summer international information will be published in a secure page, found in the Parent Portal.

In early spring, the following program-specific documents will be linked to this page:

Many questions can be answered by reviewing these materials, but please do not hesitate to contact us if further information is required. To submit or update your domestic travel and emergency contact information, please login in to the Parent Portal.

Important Passport and Medical Information

If you do not yet have a passport, or if you have not applied for one, you should do so immediately.

If you have not had a physical with your doctor since June 2018, make an appointment as quickly as possible, as your health form must be filled out based on a current physical.

Please bookmark this web page for easy use in the future.