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 Caribbean coast, down to Panama and the fantastic Bocas del Torro islands.
After a chill out sesh we'll hit the roads back up to the Pacific coast, which just so happens to be one of the best surf spots in Central America, result!
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|
|2 June 2013||4 weeks||$3,199||Available||Book now|
|28 July 2013||4 weeks||$3,199||Available||Book now|
|6 April 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|25 May 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
|13 July 2014||4 weeks||$3,529||Available||Book now|
Arrival (Days 1 to 6)
Turtles and beaches (Days 7 and 8)
Panama (Days 9 to 14)
Building homes volcanos and hotsprings (Days 15 to 23)
SURF, TREK AND CHILL (Days 24 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 Caribbean coast which is the location of your first volunteer placement at the Turtle Conservation project (...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 Caribbean coast . You will spend five nights at the project in very rustic, traditional accommodation which will give you a real back-to-basics experience. 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!
Once we have finished up on our volunteering stint, we'll head south down to the beautiful Caribbean coast for the next part of the adventure.
Day 7: White water rafting baby!
Prepare for an early start Real Gappers, we're going to go white water rafting! Our rafting guides will meet the group and take you to where our tour will begin. After a safety briefing, we start this adrenaline packed tour down class 3- 4 rapids, stopping for a picnic lunch at an Indian reserve.
The tour takes approximately 4 hours on the river, and at the end of our wet adventure we'll be met by our transport which will take us down the Caribbean coast to the town of Puerto Viejo (approx 2 ½ hours away). Here we will stay in a beach house where we'll spend the evening chilling out in a hammock with a few beers.... bliss!
Day 8: Puerto Viejo- Free time
Today you'll be as free as a bird to explore the town of Puerto Viejo, one of Costa Rica's best known backpacker hotspots. You can hire a bike and explore the fantastic beaches, take a local tour of the area, or simply sit back, relax, and enjoy a rum and coke/ice cold beer!
Day 9: Panama here we come!
On day 9 we'll make our way out of Costa Rica for a few days- but don’t worry, you'll be back in no time!
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!
Please note that Immigration costs not included, typically you should budget $10 (US) for the crossing.
Day 10: Mangroves and waterways
Today we will jump onto our kayaks and head out on an adventure through the mangroves on a real exploration trip. The trip will last approx 4 hours, and depending on the size of the Costa Rica Experience that month, you may be split into two groups to get the most out of the trip.
Day 11: Snorkelling in the Caribbean
It's time to get back in the water, another full day or exploration awaits! First stop is Dolphin Bay, to hopefully spot the friendly mammals as they swim up and jump by the boat. Next we'll head off to Coral Cay to snorkel around the beautiful reef- keep your eyes peeled and you may see some moray eels, lobsters, rays and maybe even a turtle!
After snorkeling the tour stops for a lunch break (lunch not included) before continuing onto Bastimentos island, and the private Red Frog Beach. ($3 entrance fee not included)
Our last stop for our snorkelling tour is on a high drop off with a possibility that you may see sea horses, barracudas, crabs, and maybe even a nurse shark!
The trip will last for approximately 6 hours.
Day 12: Starfish beach
Pack up your beach gear- we're heading to Starfish beach, locally known as Playa Estrella, which gets its name from the thousands of starfish that live in the area. Once we arrive you’ll have free time for the rest of the day to relax on the beach. If the weather isn´t great we will visit the small town of Bocas del Drago – where Christopher Colombus first stepped onto these islands!
Day 13: Scuba or surf anyone?
Today we're going to head off to the ultra-remote Zapatillas Islands, a pristine marine national park which is approximately a two 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 14: Goodbye Panama
Today we'll say goodbye to Panama ('bye Panama!') and head back into the capital city of San Jose. Our accommodation is in a lively hostel located in Barrio Amon in the centre of the city, so there's plenty to do!
Day 15: Zip wiring!
Another early start guys- we're going to be heading out to our second volunteer project in San Ramon where you will be helping to build new homes for the underprivileged, which is so rewarding and it's a great opportunity to meet the locals!
En route to San Ramon will be spending the day on a zip wiring tour through the forests, which is approximately 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! Wizzing through the canopy on a zip line is an experience not to be missed!
Day 16 to 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 not included during your days of project work, please budget around $3-$4 (US) per day to cover these costs.
Day 21: 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 a good few days worth of building?
Day 22: 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.
After hiking back down, our transport will be waiting for us to swoop us off to 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.
Today we 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 an Eco Lodge nestled in its own private Rainforest.
Day 24: Rainforest adventure!
After a delicious local breakfast, we'll venture into the forest to see the tree canopy from above! This part of the forest boasts three hanging bridges to walk across – which is by far the best way to spot wildlife in Costa Rica! The hike will take approx two hours and in the afternoon you’ll have have a well earnt break!
Day 25: Saddle up!
An early start today- 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'll dismount and continue on foot up through the trails of the park, until we reach the majestic Rio Celeste or 'blue lagoon', with a visit to the waterfall and the viewpoint along the way.
The hike will take approximately three hours and at the end of it a traditional lunch awaits us in a local “soda” (small Costa Rican diner serving local specialities).
Day 26: Surfers paradise
After breakfast we leave Las Heliconias, and make our way over to the Pacific coast and to Playa Grande beach. We will have to get a boat across the river and then walk up the beach to our hostel.
Day 27: Surfs up!
It's time for a surfing lesson! We’ll start off with the basics (ie- learning to stand on the board from the safety of the beach, you get the drill..) then it’ll be time to hit the waves with your English speaking professional surf instructor for a hour long lesson. After the lesson's over you’ll be able to keep the board for a while to practice what you have learnt too!
Day 28: Reminisce
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 youe 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.
You will be assigned a personal travel advisor who will co-ordinate your programme with you. Feel free to contact them at any time before you go, or when you are on your travels.
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
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.