Costa Rica Expedition
From Tropical Forests to the Pacific Coast
- Work with scientists to document rain forest and marine biodiversity.
- Photograph monkeys, sloths, rare birds, and other wildlife.
- Go rafting through a tropical forest and swim beneath a waterfall.
Conservation biologist Taylor Edwards will join the July 9 departure at the La Selva research station.
Choose one of these projects and delve further into your area of interest:
Itinerary 14 Days
Costa Rica has protected nearly a quarter of its land from development, creating a refuge for countless species and ensuring that its cloud forests, steaming volcanoes, and pristine beaches will be around for generations to come. From the lowland rain forest to the cloud forest to the coast, discover Costa Rica's incredible biodiversity alongside researchers doing vital work in the field. Through an On Assignment project of your choice—Photography or Wildlife & Conservation—set out to explore, investigate, and document Costa Rica's stewardship of its diverse ecosystems.
Days 1-3.The expedition begins at La Selva, a biological research station located on more than 1,000 hectares at the confluence of two rivers in northern Costa Rica. Encompassing one of the most pristine rain forest habitats on the planet, this private reserve is the headquarters of the Organization for Tropical Studies—a world-renowned consortium of universities and research institutions that uses the tropical forest as their laboratory. After a brief orientation and an introduction to the field station, begin your exploration of the surrounding rain forest, collecting data alongside researchers or photographing native species such as spider monkeys, poison dart frogs, sloths, and rainbow-plumed parrots. Get to know your fellow participants on a whitewater rafting adventure, paddling along lush river banks populated by tropical flora, wildlife, and a variety of birds. In the evenings, share your discoveries with your group, go on a hike to spot nocturnal species, or relax in a hammock serenaded by the echoing calls of howler monkeys.
Monteverde and San Luis
Days 4-9.Travel west to San Luis—a beautiful, self-sustaining village located on the southern edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve—our base as we explore this unique ecosystem.
Begin each day with an exercise focused on your On Assignment project—an early morning photo shoot of toucans as they flock to feed in the papaya trees, a workshop on medicinal plants, or a visit with local farmers to learn about their daily lives and help out in the fields.
We'll spend our afternoons discovering the region on field assignments and active excursions. Swim under the spray of the spectacular San Luis waterfall, which emerges from the jungle mists and tumbles some 300 feet. Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest from top to bottom: hike the trails in search of the elusive quetzal, glide through the canopy on a zip line, and ride horseback deep into the forest to find untouched primary growth. Visit a local coffee cooperative or volunteer to plant trees with the biological corridor project. Learn to cook traditional Costa Rican staples such as gallo pinto, tamales, and tortillas; and play soccer with the local schoolchildren. In the evenings, participate in discussions with resident naturalists.
Days 10-14.From the mountains of Monteverde, head west to Costa Rica's stunning Pacific coast. Using a marine research station as our base, explore the coastal ecosystem and the tropical dry forests of Guanacaste. Meet with conservation biologists to discuss the endangered leatherback turtle, and work with students at a local elementary school on their environmental education program. Spend an afternoon at the beach and take a surfing lesson at one of Costa Rica's premier surfing spots.
Wrap up your On Assignment projects and share them with the group on the final night.