Costa Rica Wildlife Conservation
|Dates:||June 28 – July 11|
|Arrive:||San Jose, CR*|
|Depart:||San Jose, CR*|
|Grade:||9th, 10th, 11th & 12th|
(Students Grouped According to Age)
*Optional Leader Escorted Flight from/to Miami
Learn More About Us
You May Also Like
- Build and Enhance Habitats for Rescued Wildlife at a Locally Run Animal Refuge
- Whitewater Raft through the Pacuare River’s Lush Rainforest
- Explore Rainforest Waterfalls
- Work Alongside Field Biologists Patrolling Beaches on a Sea Turtle Conservation Project
- Zipline Through the Tree-tops of the Vibrant Jungle Canopy
- Hike Alongside a Volcano and Soak in Tranquil Natural Hot Springs
- Immerse Yourself Completely in Costa Rican Culture
- 50 Hours of Community Service (9th Grade & Up)
Wildlife Conservation and Habitat Enhancement
In Costa Rica, 25% of the country is protected land, where animals roam free. Despite this abundance of land, there are still animals that are captured year to year, trafficked, and used as exotic pets. We immerse ourselves working in a local wildlife refuge, where animals are rescued from their lives as pets, rehabilitated from injury and, if possible, released back into the wild. Here we help improve and build a much needed new habitat enclosure, prepare food and structural toys for the animals, and clean and lend a hand wherever we can. We get to know our new animal friends- macaws, kinkajous and monkeys, among many others, who all call this refuge in the jungle their home.
Costa Rica Wildlife Conservation was designed for those with the biggest hearts ready to leave their mark on communities and aid wildlife in need. Live and work in places that bring together two distinct service projects for the quintessential Costa Rica service learning experience. Work on the remotely peaceful Caribbean beaches protecting sea turtle nesting areas and see if you can spot hatchlings make their way to the sea. Raft the rolling rapids of the Pacuare River and zip-line through the vibrant green jungle. For our spotlight project, learn about animal trafficking and other threats to wildlife as we work alongside Costa Ricans, building much needed infrastructure for animals who have been rescued from living as an exotic pet. Explore a nearby national park as you hike alongside a volcano and soak in volcanically heated hot springs.
San Jose and Cultural Orientation
Our Costa Rica summer service program begins in its capital city San Jose, with a fun orientation to Costa Rican culture. Here we are able to adjust to “Tico time” and taste our first local fare, before traveling to our next destination.
Sea Turtle Preservation & Education on Conservation and Ecology
On the Caribbean coast, we spend three days working with a local non-profit organization designed to preserve near-extinct sea turtles. By day we learn about sea turtle ecology, explore the area on a canal tour to the river mouth, and spend time journaling and sharing with our group. We will also patrol the nesting beach nightly to collect monitoring data on sea turtles and protect recently-laid eggs. The turtles only nest at night, and we work on their schedule. Though the numbers of sea turtles are dwindling, we may be lucky enough to see turtles nesting along the beach, or to help out with the newborn hatchlings.
Pacuare River Rafting & Rainforest Zipline
The volcanoes and mountains of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain form the spine of Costa Rica, from which pour gorgeous rivers to whitewater raft. The Pacuare River is arguably the best. As we paddle the Class II-IV rapids of this pure and pristine river, we pass silvery waterfalls, a wilderness of dense vegetation, and the calls of tropical birds and monkeys. We overnight at a jungle river lodge, which offers an exhilarating ride by zipline through the rainforest canopy, as well as a trip to a natural rock waterslide.
Wildlife Habitat Enhancement
Ready to immerse ourselves in the animal world, we learn about the many species of birds, mammals, and reptiles who have been rescued and are now living at the refuge. We spend our days working on various volunteer projects, which include preparing food and helping to feed the animals, before focusing in on our main project of building and expanding a permanent outdoor habitat structure. To close out our time here, we relax in soothing hot springs and explore the foot of a nearby volcano on a jungle hike where we keep an eye out for the wildlife we are dedicated to protecting.
After two weeks of working, playing, learning and laughing, we conclude our program in San Jose with a final celebratory meal. We reflect on our time together and all that we have experienced as we depart on flights back home.
“My son came home feeling more empowered, and that he had really contributed to something worthwhile. He loved the teaching, and helping the family dig the trench. He was very impressed with their work ethic, and I think he learned a lot from that. Thank you for being the highlight of my son’s summer.”— Parent of Wesley M., San Rafael, CA
“It was a very positive growth experience for Laura! I/we feel that the has become more confident and independent; the sense of accomplishment from having done the trip is something that I think makes her proud. When she stepped off the plane, she already seemed older!”— Parent of Laura V., S. Burlington, VT
“She had an amazing trip and it helped her see how fortunate she is and recognized the needs of others. She formed close friendships with the group.”— Parent of Margaret M., Atlanta, GA
“You can tell ARCC has been around for years by how well I was prepared for my trip and how well my guides knew the area.”— Andrew C., Greenbrae, CA, ARCC Student
“Tristan thrived during his first experience away from home. He felt comfortable and safe with the leaders and the group. He was challenged and stimulated by the program. He learned a lot about Costa Rican culture, enjoyed meeting Costa Rican people, felt good about helping with the community service projects, and had a lot of fun rafting and surfing.”— Parent of Tristan S., Germantown, NY
Group Journal Excerpts
Below you will find several Group Journal excerpts, written by ARCC students during their summer program with ARCC:
Life on the Farm
Touchdown. After a full day of travel, we have arrived to El Cairo where we will be teaching English to Costa Rican grade schoolers over the next few days! The past few days we have been lending a hand at an environmentally sustainable farm in the highlands at Ranchos Tinamu. Hard work and new experiences…
Patrolling for Sea Turtles
For the past several days we have been on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica working with a local group to help save the endangered sea turtle nesting habitat! Each night, we patrolled for several hours with local guides, looking for nesting turtles. With only the stars as our light, we walked the beach. Last…
It has been an incredible few days teaching English at Escuela Florida here in El Cairo, Costa Rica! Students prepared their own “lesson plans” and taught all sorts of common English phrases and words through games and fun activities. It was tiring work maintaining the student’s attention while keeping it fun during learning but smiles…
What should I pack?
Each program has a specific packing list that has been designed to fit the program’s activities, length, climate, and cultural differences. Please click here to view the Costa Rica: Wildlife Conservation packing list.
What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
In Costa Rica, the weather is a lot like Florida in the summer time. During the day it can be hot, sunny and humid (80’s-90’s). Late afternoons often bring showers, which will cool us off. Some days you will go to bed with only a simple cover as it is often warm enough to sleep without your sleeping bag. When we ascend into the high elevation rainforest and cloud forest, the temperature becomes cooler (in the 50’s at night).
What are the service projects like?
The specific service projects that each group will work on depend on the needs of the organizations at the time that the groups are there. Possibilities include: constructing and making improvements to wildlife habitats; environmental education and village clean-up; and assisting in a sea-turtle recovery project.
What kind of health precautions should I take before traveling on this program?
Costa Rica is a relatively clean and safe place to travel. However, ARCC does recommend that you take some health precautions before your program. When you enroll in the program, you will receive more complete information on pertinent travel vaccinations and immunizations. Please also refer to the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC website. Our leaders carry a full first-aid kit and are all certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR).
Where will we sleep?
During this program we sleep in a variety of accommodations: small simple hotels, rustic lodges.
What is the transportation like once we are in Costa Rica?
Typically we will take a private 20-person shuttle from place to place. We also take a short ferry ride during the turtle project portion of our program.
What is the food like?
On this program, you will experience typical Costa Rican fare – rice and beans. This staple is supplemented with a delicious assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. The group will also be creating the menu and preparing the meals during some sections of the program.
Vegetarians and medical dietary requirements (i.e. allergies) are catered for. It does help if we are informed of this prior to departure date.
How much spending money should I bring?
We suggest you bring about $75 per week on your program. This is for souvenirs, laundry, and other incidentals. ARCC pays for all meals, lodging, transportation and activities. There is some time to shop for souvenirs in San Jose and elsewhere during the program. We recommend you bring some of your money in cash and the rest on an ATM card.
In Costa Rica the official currency is the Colon, but US dollars are widely accepted. We suggest that you carry about $25 of your money in small denominations (1’s and 5’s). Visa and MasterCard are also widely accepted. We do not recommend Traveler’s checks. ATM’s are found in San Jose, but are limited outside the city.
As with any international program, we strongly recommend talking to your bank about its international withdrawal policies to avoid any surprise fees or card cancellations.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, all students traveling to Costa Rica need to have a valid passport. Please make sure the passport expiration date is at least six months after your program start date.
Be sure to make a photocopy of your passport and keep it in a separate place. If you lose your passport and you have a photocopy, it is much easier to replace.
Do I need a visa?
No. US and Canadian Citizens do not need a visa for this program.
What is the time difference between Costa Rica and the USA?
During the summer, Costa Rica is on Mountain Time. Therefore, on your program the time will be 2 hours earlier than in New York (Eastern Time) and 1 hour later than in San Francisco (Pacific Time).
How often can we take showers and do laundry?
Students are taught how to hand wash their clothes by their leaders, and will have the opportunity to do so throughout the program. Due to the remote locations we travel to, students do as the locals do, and use the warm Costa Rican sun to line dry their clothes. For ease of travel, quick dry clothes are recommended on the packing list.
Do I really need to bring a backpack, or can I bring a rolling suitcase on this program?
You will want to bring two pieces of luggage: your main bag and a daypack. Your main bag should be a backpack, travel backpack or large duffel bag. This larger piece of luggage should be approximately 4,500-5,000 cubic inches or 70-75 liters, and should be able to hold everything on your Clothing & Equipment List. The daypack should be large enough to hold an extra layer of clothing, a water bottle, sunscreen, some snacks, etc. Some travel backpacks come with an attached daypack that you can zip off and use. Otherwise, your school backpack is a good option. When you travel, you should plan to check your large piece of luggage and bring the daypack on the plane as your carry-on.
Please keep in mind that while you will not be doing traditional backpacking on this program, the group will be navigating through airports, on and off buses, up and down stairways, and taking short hikes on unpaved paths. The group will be able to move much more efficiently if everyone is carrying their belongings on their back.
You will also need to pack an EMPTY small duffel bag inside your main piece of luggage. When you get to Costa Rica, you will use this duffel bag to store certain items that you will not use during specific sections of your program.
Do I need to speak Spanish to join this program?
No. English is widely spoken in Costa Rica and your leaders and local guides will speak both English and Spanish.
What kinds of goods and supplies can we bring to donate for the people we meet?
We have the chance to live amongst some needy people who have the very basics for survival. With education being a tool to better their lives, basic school supplies are welcomed with open arms. Pens, pencils, notepads, calculators and books are widely accepted. Soccer balls are also an incredible way to cross the cultural border and share smiles. Because of limited space on our vehicles ARCC would ask that every person to bring no more than a gym of bag of goods to donate.