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Costa Rica - Frequently Asked Questions

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ABOUT COSTA RICA

Located in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is one of the oldest democracies in the Americas, enjoying full political stability with a long-standing commitment to a democratic lifestyle. With no army or militia, Costa Rica is known for its civilized way of life and can be described as an oasis of peace.

WHERE ARE YOU LOCATED?

We are located in the heart of one of Costa Rica's wildest, most unexplored areas, the Osa Peninsula. Our facility, 450 feet above the Pacific Ocean, is surrounded by lush tropical rainforest rising from the black sand beach to 600 foot elevations. This area, located an hour and a half from the nearest town, could be considered very remote.

HOW DO WE GET THERE?

Wild Studies arranges travel to Costa Rica. You will travel from your city of departure to Costa Rica's capital of San Jose. After a day of local culture and two nights in San Jose, the group will depart by air for a 1-hour flight to Puerto Jimenez and drive to our beach front facility on the Osa Peninsula.

 

WHERE WILL WE STAY?

In San Jose, participants will stay at the Inca Real Hotel. In the rainforest, rustic cabinas and tent cabins each with their own bath, will house four to six students in double bunks. Our common building has a full kitchen and a dining/study area.

 

TRAVEL INSURANCE:

Because of the unpredictability of airline schedules, delays, increases in misplaced baggage, and the remote possibility of program delays or cancellations, Wild Studies highly recommends each student purchases an inexpensive travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellation, missed connection, trip interruption, trip delay, and emergency medical evacuation and treatment. Click here to learn more

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WHAT DO WE EAT?

Meals will be a mix of local fare combined with more traditional North American foods. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided as well as snacks, plenty of ice water, and flavored drinks.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR GROUP SIZES?

Group size will be limited to 16 students and their teachers. Our staff will consist of our program manager, an instructor, a local guide, and our local kitchen staff.

 

 

WHAT ARE THE ACTIVITIES?

The week's adventure is divided into two areas. Days one and two will include the cultural aspect. San Jose and surrounding areas which consist of walking tour of town, interacting with locals, shopping in the markets, a visit to a coffee plantation, hiking at the La Paz Waterfall gardens, sampling fruits at a local farm, a cruise on a river boat, and a visit to a butterfly far. The second component is the Osa Peninsula expedition. This adventure will include hiking on beaches, up rivers and waterfalls, and exploring dense and mountainous tropical rainforests. Through a system of harness, ropes, and pulleys, you can have the option of visiting a tree top platform one hundred feet up in the rainforest canopy. Optional horseback riding, geology studies, sea turtle watching, a boat ride across the gulf, interaction with locals in Puerto Jimenez. Be advised caution is required on all activities. There are no paved walkways here. Rough, steep, uneven, slippery footing is the rule rather than the exception.

 

WHAT SHOULD I PACK?

Click here for 2008 Packing List

Keep it simple. Lightweight tropical clothing and footwear is the norm. (25 lb. total). See our complete rainforest travelers packing list for details

 

DO I NEED A BACKPACK?

Yes, a good school type day pack is fine. It should definitely have a waist cinch strap and padded shoulder straps. It will be for carrying items such as your 1 liter water bottles or camelback hydration system, camera, binoculars, lunch, a change of clothes, and a towel.

 

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I BRING?

Costa Rican currency is the colon. US dollars are accepted throughout the country. Exchange rates fluctuate, but have been around 300 colons to the US dollar. $150 - $200 US in small bills ($5, $10, $20) will cover most emergencies (unexpected travel delays, medical emergencies) and local shopping for souvenirs and snacks.

 

WHAT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS DO I NEED?

You will need a passport. Apply at your local courthouse. Don't wait until the last minute, it does take some time. They cost $80-100 not including two headshot photos which must be submitted with your passport application.

 

WHAT ABOUT WATER?

Our local drinking water is safe. Many of our students use a combination camelback system built into a small backpack, just be sure the pack is large enough for the backpack items listed previously. This is a perfect set up for our day hikes. Another less expensive system is a belt and waist pack that holds two 1 liter water bottles, or, a third method is a camelback with shoulder straps to be worn as a backpack or slipped into your own backpack. All of these methods have been tried and proven to work equally well. Do not drink from streams or tap water in towns.

 

ARE VACCINES REQUIRED?

Vaccines are not required, but check with your physician to be sure you are up to date on your shots. A tetanus shot is a good idea. Check with your doctor and check the Center for Disease Control's website for updates and recommendations.

 

DO I NEED SPECIAL FOOTWEAR?

Many students have been using a good trail running shoe (canvas/nylon combination all work well). Tell the sales person you'll be walking up and across rivers and will need something that will drain well. Keep them as light as possible and get a good lug sole. We also recommend a second pair of shoes to wear in the evenings while your day shoes dry. Any light shoe, tennies or sandals, will work fine.

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WHAT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS DO I NEED?

You will need a passport. Apply at your local courthouse. Don't wait until the last minute, it does take some time. They cost $80-100 not including two headshot photos which must be submitted with your passport application.

 

CAN I CALL HOME?

Telephone and cell phone communication is not possible from our facility at this time. However, a "we got here" call can be made from Puerto Jimenez on the way in to our facility - assuming local phones are working. As with our Bahamas program, don't panic if there is no call. If there is a problem, you'll hear about it. No news is good news, is the rule here.

 

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE COST?

All airline and ground transportation from your airport of departure. Local transportation, departure tax, all meals, daily activities, lodging, guide services, a visit to a volcano, the waterfall gardens, a butterfly farm, a coffee plantation, a riverboat trip, snorkeling equipment, rappelling gear, horseback riding, and the boat trip to the wildlife rehab center. We also include our workbook/rainforest journal and a Wild Studies T-shirt.

 

HOW IS THE WEATHER IN COSTA RICA?

In June, July, and August, the weather is hot. 90 degrees with some rain almost daily, although we have gone without rain for several days in a row. If we didn't have the rain it wouldn't be a rainforest, would it? The rain is warm and by the time it drips through the forest canopy, you hardly feel it. You'll learn to like the rain in contrast to the humidity when the sun is out. We never use our rain gear: it's too hot. Everyone gets used to being wet and enjoys being in the rain.

 

DO I NEED TO GET INTO SHAPE?

It is a one and a half hour drive to the town clinic. About another hour to the hospital. Air evacuation is quick but medical care can be significantly delayed.

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WHERE IS THE NEAREST MEDICAL FACILITY?

It is a one and a half hour drive to the town clinic. About another hour to the hospital. Air evacuation is quick but medical care can be significantly delayed.

 

HOW SAFE IS THIS ADVENTURE?

No outdoor adventure is safe. This is an Eco-Adventure educational trip. Adventure does not come without some risk. This trip is not as safe as sitting home watching TV or playing with a computer. You are out experiencing nature and nature can be unpredictable and dangerous. At times, we hike over slippery, rough uneven terrain; you could slip and be injured. We climb and scramble along waterfalls; you could fall. Don't we face many of these same risks every day as we travel, shop, and work around the house or participate in school activities and athletics? Participants in this trip, with the training, rules, and procedures we have installed, have never had an incident more serious than a minor scrape or split toenail. Please follow our rules and help keep it that way.

 

WHAT IS THE AIRLINE TICKET POLICY?

Due to weather, unannounced government rules changes, unreliable freight shipping and airline schedule changes, or other forces beyond our control, any planned schedule or activity may have to change or be cancelled without notice. Airline tickets are purchased in your individual names and are your property once paid for. Subsequent schedule changes, route cancellations, or other complications are beyond our control. Hence it is the named individual’s responsibility to handle such matters directly with the airline.

 

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