Detailed Description of Itinerary
Welcome to Costa Rica! Upon arrival, we will be transferred to Aranjuez Hotel, a genuine Costa Rican home. Group will be formally introduced with an overview of the program, analizing and discussing student's expectations. Dinner will be enjoyed in a typical restaurant downtown San José.
After breakfast, we will be transferred to the Osa Península, where the Tropical Center (TC) is located. Lunch will be provided on the way, where afterwards the group will have the opportunity to observe and learn about the páramo ecosystem. Upon arrival at the TC, we will leave our bags and head towards the Dulce Gulf to practice some kayaking. While paddling, you will be able to observe many interesting birds, reptiles and learn about this magnificent ecosystem. After navigating thru the canals, you will enter Dulce Gulf. After a relaxing break and seasonal fresh fruits at the beach, you will continue to paddle, where there's a great chance of watching dolphins. After dinner, there will be a presentation about the precautions each participant should take while being in the tropical rain forest.
During the morning the group will participate on a guided walk with biolaboratories at the Catarata Trail (waterfall trail). We will hike for about 3 hours, learning about the features and distinctions of the tropical rainforest. Later, all groups will analyze the different samples they picked from the forest as well as discuss study results. Upon arrival at the TC, groups will expose results and share them with the other groups. Get ready for a fun voleiball game with the community members. After dinner, learn some Spanish tips from our educators.
During the morning the group will have the opportunity to visit a local community school. School students and teachers will tell you how they include environmental education in their study programs. Our environmental educator will organize an educational program where the group can participate and interact with local students. Later, we will visit the Chocuaco Lagoon. This lagoon is located in the community of Rancho Quemado, at 30 minutes from the TC. We will walk through several caddle farms until we get to the border or the lagoon. While navigating through the canals, we have the opportunity to hear interesting sounds: birds, reptiles, amphibians and lots of insects.
After dinner, we will have an introduction for tomorrow's trip to La Gamba Community.
La Gamba Project has been part of a community program from the Neotropica foundation since 1998. Part of the mission is that the community reaches their own self-development through equitable, organizational, productive processes and community actions that conduct to better social and economical conditions. All activities lead to a better environmental quality for protected areas. Students will learn about the history of the community, visit their school, integral farm, iguana and badger breeding, biodigestors, medicinal plants and other ecotouristic attractions that this community has developed. After dinner, get ready for an extraordinary experience, taking a night walk at Heliconia trail. Open your senses to enjoy the scents, sights and sounds of the rain forest's nightlife.
Today we will be dedicated to a field laboratory. The objective of this activity is to develop a practical biolab in direct contact with nature, to understand the complex functioning of our natural environment so that students take concrete actions to minimize our impact to natural resources. Groups will present their results after a full day of interesting discoveries. After dinner, get ready for an exciting popular dance lesson!
Note: we offer diverse laboratory themes according to the group's needs and expectations.
We will dedicate this morning to learn how to make handcrafts. Mr. Carlos Bianco, a local artisan, dedicates his life to business, where he creates beautiful handpainted wooden animal figures and other handcrafts. After lunch, our environmental educators will conduct a biolaboratory in the mangrove at Playa Blanca ("White Beach). After this activity, there will be time to relax at the beach. At night, the group will watch a video called "the Rainforest".
In the morning we will visit an Indian Reserve. This cultural activity allows the interaction between Guaymi Indian and all participants of the group. First, they will give us an introduction of their way of living, the textiles they produce, medicinal plants they use and their typical food. We will be able to visit the local school and actually visit their shacks. We will have lunch at the reserve and then we will organize a Beach Cleanup activity. After dinner, our educators will explain about tomorrow's activity to Corcovado National Park and we will watch an interesting video about this park.
We will take an early breakfast, after which we will leave towards the Park. The trip to and from the Park will be on wagon pulled by a tractor. This park protects the last remnant of tropical rain forest on the Pacific coast of Central America. It covers over 40.000 hectares of primary forest, home for a great variety of species of flora and fauna; including heliconias, frogs, butterflies, small mammals, snakes, fig trees. This will be the only time during the program when you will be in a primary forest.
We will cross Rincón River several times during the wagon ride and will follow its bank for approximately an hour, until you reach the trail to "Los Patos" ranger station inside the park. Wood slabs have been dug into the trail at intervals to offer foothold, making the 3-kilometer walk to the station (1 1/2-hour) less exhausting. Once we arrive, we'll have a snack. The station has bathroom facilities.
After the snack, we'll hike on a trail that leads to a waterfall where you can bathe and will enjoy your lunch. During the ride and walks there will be natural trails interpretation, mainly on the primary forest.
Usually, the arrival time back at the Tropical Center is around 4pm. At night we will review our Spanish tips and learn new phrases.
After breakfast, we will pack our bags and visit an organic agriculture farm called Köbö. First we will learn about domestic orchards, followed by banana plantations, medicinal plants, sugar cane, pineapple, cassava and cocoa. Sugar cane is later processed in their own sugar mill. The owner also has milk cows, pigs and produces organic fertilizer with earth worms. At the end of the activity, we will have the opportunity to walk along a beautiful forest that the owner is preserving. Later we will be transferred to La Cusinga, a beach lodge located in the "Ballena Marine National Park". There will be free time to enjoy at this beautiful beach. After dinner we will have a presentation on marine ecosystems.
Early in the morning, our environmental educators will take us for walks along the Ballena Marine National Park, accompanied with splendid views and free time at the beach. After lunch, we will get ready for our trip back to San José. At night, we'll celebrate the closing for the program and give out their certificates.
Bye Costa Rica! After an exciting program full of environmental education and adventure, we will return to our homes.
Note: This itinerary might suffer some changes in activities during rainy season
All of our itineraries are flexible and adaptable to different needs and expectations. Our Tropical Center also coordinates other Conservation Projects for the Neotropica Foundation, where we like to include students on their activities, like for example: reforesting farms, installing biodigestors, organic orchards, school nurseries and other activities.