Trip SummarySee full itinerary
If you're looking for an awesome four week adventure, then our action packed, epic Costa Rica Experience is what you've been looking for! Starting in the buzzin' capital of San Jose in the centre of Costa Rica, we will take all of you Real Gappers around the country of our dreams- from the gorgeous Pacific coast, which just so happens to be one of the best surf spots in Central America, to the epic Arenal volcano, one of the most active in the Americas and then down to Panama and the fantastic Bocas del Torro islands for a chill out sesh!
In amongst all of the travelling action, you'll get your very own slice of adventure... (white water rafting? Surfing? Snorkelling and kayaking? Yes please!). You'll also get the chance to help out on some of our most rewarding volunteer projects, from sea turtle conservation to helping build new homes for disadvantaged local people and it's awesome to see how far your hard work really goes. So if you're up for an adventure filled, jam packed itinerary of a lifetime- then the Costa Rica Experience is for you!
|Dates of Departures||Duration||Price (Land Only)||Trip Status|
|6 April 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Limited Availability||Call Us 1-800-985-4852|
|11 May 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|15 June 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|20 July 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|24 August 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|16 November 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|18 January 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|1 March 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|19 April 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|7 June 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|26 July 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|6 September 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
|1 November 2015||4 weeks||$3,549||Available||Book now|
Arrival (Days 1 to 6)
Surf, Trek and Chill (Days 7 - 10)
Volcanoes, Horses and Hotsprings (Days 11 to 14)
Building homes (Days 15 to 22)
Panama (Days 23 to 29)
Day 1: Arrival
One of our in-country Real Gappers will collect you from the airport and take you to your hostel accommodation in Alajuela. If your flight arrives before 6pm you're in luck- we host an awesome welcome dinner in a great local restaurant on your first night where you'll get the chance to tickle your tastebuds with your first taste of life in Costa Rica. Depending on your arrival time there may also be some free time before the meal for you to kick back and relax.
Day 2: Getting started
Rise and shine! It’s going to be an early start today as we begin with your orientation sesh- between 8.00am and 8:30am a Real Gapper will come to the hostel to collect you, and walk you through the town of Alajuela to the Real Gap offices, where you'll be given breakfast. The orientation session generally runs from 8.30am until approx 10.30am with a 15 minute break, so you'll get to learn loads about the area and ask any questions you may have. After the orientation we'll get stuck straight in and take you to the Pacific coast which is the location of your first volunteer placement at the Turtle Conservation project. This could be in one of two locations- Junquillal or Zapotillal (...you'll get given a packed lunch too, so food will be sorted!).
Day 3-6: Turtle conservation
Today's the day that you'll begin lending a hand on our fantastic volunteer placement on the Pacific coast. You will spend five nights at the project in the volunteer house. Duties at the project are completely varied depending on what needs doing at the time, but you could be patroling the beach, helping to clear the area, or releasing baby turtles into the sea!
Day 7: Surfers Paradise
After breakfast we'll say goodbye to the project and head up to Playa Grande beach by public transport. We'll then get a boat across the river and walk up the beach to our hostel!
Day 8: Surf's Up!
It's time to hit the beach for a surfing lesson! We'll start off with the basics (i.e- learning to stand up on the board from the safety of the beach, etc... you get the drill), and then it'll be time to hit the waves with your English speaking professional surf instructor for a 2 hour long lesson! Lessons will be taken in groups according to group size.
Day 9: Bijagua
Today we'll travel by public transport up into the mountains, to the little village of Bijagua in the northern part of Costa Rica. We'll be staying in 'cabinas'- comfortable, rustic accommodation close to the centre of the village and all amenities.
Day 10: Rainforest adventure
After a hearty local breakfast, we'll venture up into a private rainforest reserve to see the tree canopy from above! This part of the forest boasts three hanging bridges to walk across- so it's an awesome way to see all of the wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer! The hike will take about 2 hours and then in the afternoon you'll have the option of visiting a local farm, whose owners pride themselves on rescuing all kinds of flora and fauna. Want to get up close and personal with a boa constrictor or a red eyed tree frog? This is your chance! (This trip is an optional extra). Or you can just take this extra time to relax to the sound of the cicadas and take in the breathtaking view of the mountains from the cabinas!
Day 11: Saddle up!
An early start today as we'll have breakfast at the lodge, then head back into the town of Bijagua to pick up our steeds! We'll spend 2 hours on horseback riding through the lush jungle and through rivers until we reach Volcan Tenorio National Park. Here we dismount and continue on foot up through the trails of the park, until we reach the majestic Rio Celeste (also known as the 'blue lagoon') with a waterfall and the viewpoint. The hike will take around 3 hours and at the end of it a traditional lunch awaits us in a local 'soda' (small Costa Rican diner serving local specialities).
Day 12: Volcano!
After breakfast, we will continue our travels by public transport to the epic Volcano Arenal – a must see on any trip to Costa Rica! The Arenal volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Americas. We'll stay in a family run hotel, which has an amazing view of the perfect conical volcano outside! You’ll have free time to explore the charming town of La Fortuna, with plenty of souvenir shops, cafès and internet cafes - or you maybe you could treat yourself to a massage after yesterdays hike!
Day 13: Trekking and hot springs!
We venture a bit closer to the Arenal Volcano today; we'll drive to the other side of the Volcano where we'll enter Volcan Arenal National Park. After a short hike through the dry tropical forest, we'll reach the old lava flows from the huge eruption in 1968. Later on, we move to a safe observation to watch the volcano; if you're lucky you may feel the ground tremble and see the columns of smoke, or ash and lava in a natural display of fireworks.
Then it's time to relax as we finish the day at Baldi Hot Springs – natural thermal pools at the bottom of the smoldering volcano! There are 23 different pools of varying temperatures along with water slides, saunas, wet bars and botanical gardens all for you to explore and enjoy! If you’re lucky you may be able to see the lava flowing from the continuously erupting crater in the distance.
Day 14: Whitewater rafting baby!
Today we hit the white water for an adrenaline pumping rafting trip! Our rafting guides will pick us up from the hostel and take us to where the tour begins. After a safety briefing, we start this adrenaline packed tour down class 3-4 rapids. The tour takes approximately 3 hours and we will be met at the end by our guide who will have prepared a fabulous lunch on the river banks!
Day 15: Zip wiring!
Today we say goodbye to La Fortuna and the volcano, and head into the hills again...although not hiking! We will be spending the day on a zip wire tour through the forests which is around an hour from San Ramon in the mountains. In total there are nine platform cables, a tarzan swing and three extra long cables, so it's going to be a mega fun day! Whizzing through the canopy on a zipline is an experience not to be missed!
Day 16-20: House building for the locals of San Ramon
Our work schedule and construction site will be discussed with you once you arrive in Costa Rica; transport to and from your building site is included during your days of project work. Building new homes for the underprivileged is so rewarding and it's a great opportunity for you to meet the locals!
Day 21: San Jose
We say goodbye to San Ramon today and head back into the buzzing capital city of Costa Rica, San Jose. Our accommodation is in a lively hostel located in Barrio Amon in the centre of the city. We will take a walking tour around the capital, taking in sights such as the National Theatre, Plaza de Cutura, the central market and the artisan fair.
Day 22: Caribbean coast
We travel towards the Caribbean by public transport which will take us down to the Caribbean coast to Puerto Viejo. Here we will stay in a beach house and the rest of the day will be free time for you to sit back and relax!
Day 23: Panama here we come!
Today we'll say goodbye to Costa Rica for a few days, as we'll be off to explore the islands off the coast of Panama!
We'll take the 2 hour journey down to the border of Panama by public transport. After completing all the necessary immigration requirements, we're free to explore another country- wahay!
Once we're in Panama, we'll travel by minibus down to the docks where we'll hop into a water taxi over to the beautiful islands of Bocas del Toro. From the border crossing, the journey is approximately 1.5 hours- which will fly by in no time!
Our home for the next few days? A quiet hostel with an amazing decking area over the ocean, which is located on the main island of Isla Colon. It's going to be an epic few days! The rest of the afternoon is free to explore, go swimming or take that well deserved cocktail!
Please note that Immigration costs not included, typically you should budget $10 (US) for the crossing.
Day 24: Snorkelling!
It's a full day today as we head out on the boat! First stop is dolphin bay, where you'll hopefully get the chance to see these awesome mammals swimming wild and free in the ocean. Next we'll head off to Coral Cay to snorkel around the beautiful reef- if you're lucky you may see moray eels, lobsters, rays and possibly a turtle or two!
After snorkelling the tour stops for a lunch break before continuing onto Bastimentos island and the private Red Frog Beach ($3 entrance fee not included)
Our last stop is another snorkel experience on a high drop off with a possibilty that you may see sea horses, barracudas, crabs and maybe even a nurse shark!
Day 25: Mangroves and waterways!
Today we will jump onto our kayaks and head out on an adventure through the mangroves on a real exploration trip. Our final destination is to find an old sunken ship and go for a snorkel around it! The trip will last around 4 hours and be split into 2 groups depending on the number of people on your trip.
Day 26: Bluff Beach!
Today we will rent bicycles and venture around the other side of the island. We will head to Bluff Beach- appoximately a 45 minute ride- but we can take our time and stop as many times as we please. There is a restaurant to stop for lunch or you can take a picnic!
Day 27: Last day in Panama!
Today we're going to head off to the ultra-remote Zapatillas Islands, a pristine marine national park which is approximately a one hour boat ride from Bocas del Toro. You'll be spending the day on these islands, so you can explore to your heart's content! ( $5 park fee not included)
Day 28: Goodbye Panama!
Today we'll say goodbye to Panama ('bye Panama!') and head back into the capital city of San Jose. We still have to pass through immigration so keep those passports handy!
We should arrive back in San Jose sometime in the afternoon where we will hop on another bus back to the hostel in Alajuela, where we started this awesome adventure four weeks ago.
We'll set up a farewell dinner for you all- which will be the perfect time to reminisce about the awesome time you've had on the Costa Rica Experience!
Day 29: Farewell
Today's the day we all have to say goodbye. Boo. No activities are planned for this day, but of course we'll drop you all back off at San Jose airport for your flights home!
To get a detailed PDF of information for this trip including full itinerary, country guides and travel advice on visas, money, insurance and the local weather, download our trip notes. By doing so you’ll also be kept updated on all the latest news, offers and stories on this particular trip. Happy reading!
The minimum age for this trip is 18.
This trip has a minimum number of people in order for it to run. Please do not book flights until your travel advisor confirms that the trip has met the minimum number and the departure is confirmed.
The types of accommodation will vary throughout the programme from hostels to beach cabins to a lodge in rainforest!
Some meals are included in your programme, these are noted on your programme itinerary. On the days where meals are not included this is a fantastic opportunity to sample some of the traditional local dishes that Costa Rica and Panama has to offer; food is extremely cheap to buys in both countries.
The Costa Rica Experience gives you the chance to take part in a four-week adventure in this amazing country. The programme includes a two short volunteer project placements and a number of excursions.
Sea Turtle Conservation Caribbean Coast
Play a part in the effort to preserve one of the planets oldest species on this isolated beach on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Volunteers are desperately needed to help patrol the beach at night time looking for nesting female turtles – and to relocate her eggs to a safe location inside a custom built hatchery. Without volunteers help, most nests would be poached by humans, eaten by wild animals or washed away in the tide – so every helping hand is appreciated!
The project itself is run by a local NGO, and receives no funding. Therefore be prepared to get back to basics on a beautiful deserted beach! Our accommodation for the week is a rustic style wooden house on the beach, with dorm rooms for the volunteers.
In order for these conservation projects to work, they need a steady flow of enthusiastic volunteers, not only to work directly with the turtles, but also to keep the logistics of the camp running. This means that there is plenty of day time work to be done as well. Although tiring, the memories of releasing dozens of baby turtles back into the ocean are unforgettable!
Generally volunteers are responsible for the following:
Building Houses for underprivileged families in San Ramon
A rewarding way to help a family in need – help build them their own home!
Our building projects work in conjunction with Fundacion Costa Rica – Canada Rural housing programme, to help families with low income become home owners. The foundation supports families from the first application for housing, helping them fulfill the necessary requirements, support during the construction process, and collecting the monthly loan payments.
The Fundación para la Vivienda Rural Costa Rica-Canadá has left its footprints in the rural areas, changing the lives of the people and promoting a substantial improvement in each of the communities and families.
Places that didn’t have public services such as drinking water, electricity and telephone, now have them. Also, places with no adequate access roads, now have the possibility of improving them.
Volunteers play a huge part in the whole construction process. Taking instruction from a local foreman and local builders, we are there from start to finish, from digging the foundations, mixing cement, brick laying and leveling floors – this really is giving back to the communities as you see the results of your hard work each day!
Depending on which stage the house is at you may get involved in some of the following tasks:
Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.
In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our staff at any time should you need to.
Typically the Costa Rica Experience has a maximum of 10 people. A buddy list will be sent to you before you leave with contact details of other people on the trip, so you can get to know each other before you leave.
The Currency in Costa Rica is the Colon. You would typically pay for day to day things (meals, drinks etc) with local currency, although for many tourist activities they prefer US dollars. In Panama the currency is the Balboa, although the US dollar is also legal tender and the exchange rate is tied to the dollar so 1 Balboa is equal to 1 US Dollar.
In most parts of Costa Rica you can drink the tap water. Speak with your tour guide before drinking it though as some of the areas you will visit on this trip is it not advisable.
There are areas along the Caribbean coast that are considered low-mid risk areas. Consult your doctor at least 6 week before you leave to get the most up to date advice. Unfortunately we cannot offer medical advice as we are not medically qualified to do so.
Yes, absolutely! Many people choose to remain in Costa Rica to volunteer after the Experience and it's a great way of getting to know the locals better. Speak with one of our travel advisers and ask thier advice as many of them have travelled to the projects and can give first hand advice.
I've done this tripWrite review
The perfect balance of volunteering, play and night-life! Unforgettable!
All of it!! But probably has to be white water rafting. The most fun ever! Snorkelling was amazing! Swam with nurse sharks and a stingray! Also the people we met! The locals were so friendly and helpful! It is daunting setting out and spending a month with strangers but we had such a good group of people and an amazing guide who knew the place back to front so we were in safe hands.
Buy malaria tablets from the supermarket. Bring lots of repellent and sun block. Bring a good camera! There's such beautiful scenary
Better pre-trip info like the best place to get malaria tablets in from the supermarkets! I was advised to go to the doctors and the pills cost a fortune and then it turned out we didn't really need them. It would have been better if our in-country guide did some of the pre-itin as we found this out on arrival!
Lots of turtles, sloths, beaches, rainforests, volcanoes and desert islands.
Surfing in Playa Grande, snorkelling in Bocas Del Toro, cycling in Puerto Viejo, Arenal volcano, hot springs and Starfish beach.
1. Bring lots of mosquito repellent and suncream. 2. Bring lots of money. 3.
See more of Panama or/and travel up to Nicaragua.
An unforgettable experience of the real Costa Rica!
Every destination had something different to see but the best part of my trip was seeing a nest of baby leatherback turtles make their way to the sea for the first time! Other highlights were the white water rafting and hiking through the rainforest in the most beautiful scenery.
Enjoy and try everything you can... Some of the volunteering is hard work but putting in a lot of effort really paid off and made some of the best memories of the trip. And it seems obvious but take lots of insect repellant, itchy bites are never fun!
The trip is jam packed full of destinations and things to do and see, if anything else was squeezed into one month you wouldn't get the chance to enjoy each place and relax.
In This Trip There Is Really Nothing To Worry About, Nikki The Tour Guide Is Very Organised And Really Good Fun So All You Have To Do Is Enjoy Yourself. If You're Travelling Alone It's A Great Way To Make Friends And See All The Sights Of Costa Rica. Not Only That But The Volunteer Projects Are Really Worthwhile, It's A Great Mix Of Work And Relaxation.
Tolles Land, viele unterschiedliche eindrücke,
Schildkröten freilassen Bockas del torro Insel
Hostels mit Klimaanlage
Nici, Ist Definitiv Der Beste Guid Den Ich Je Hatte! Führsorglich, Zuvorkommend, Alles Bis Ins Kleinste Detail Erklart Und Bei Fragen Auch Gerne Alles Nochmal Erklärt!
Amazing experience that I will never forget! Pura Vida!
Taking part in the volunteer projects, white water rafting, Bocas Del Toro, Peurto Viejo and the rainforest.
Try everything..you won't regret it! Work hard at the volunteer projects, you get out what you out in! Relax and Enjoy!
Maybe more time to see more of Panama.