Costa Rica has protected over a quarter of its land from development, creating a refuge for countless species and ensuring that its rainforests and pristine beaches will thrive for generations to come. From the stunning northwest coast to the verdant Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, discover Costa Rica’s innovative conservation efforts and incredible biodiversity alongside your knowledgeable trip leaders and a National Geographic expert. Spot exotic marine and bird life, photograph monkeys in their natural habitat, and travel to a rural village to help local community members with service projects.

Days 1-2: Northwest Coast

Arrive in Costa Rica and travel to the country’s Pacific coast where we’ll settle into our accommodations on Playa Grande. Playa Grande is known for its pristine shorelines and crystal-clear waters, and the beach’s steady stream of breaking waves has long attracted surfers from around the world. Spend a morning catching waves with the guidance of professional surf instructors, discover coastal tide pools sheltering colorful anemones and sea stars, and paddle a canoe through estuaries teeming with exotic birds, capturing photos of their colorful beaks and plumage.

Days 3-6: Monteverde

Travel inland to San Luis, a small community situated at the southern edge of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. With your knowledgeable trip leaders and local guides, discover what fascinates you the most about this culturally vibrant and biodiverse country. Explore nocturnal Costa Rica on an expert-guided night hike, spy sloths and coatis in the forest, and learn new Spanish vocabulary. Swim under the spray of the spectacular San Luis waterfall amid blue morpho butterflies, search for the colorful plumage of the elusive quetzal, glide through the cloud forest canopy on zip line, and ride horseback deep into the forest to untouched primary growth. In the evenings, relax in a hammock and scan the treetops for howler and spider monkeys, or practice your nighttime photography skills with your friends.

Days 7-10: Community Service Village

Head to our rural village in the northwest province of Guanacaste, and work alongside local residents on a variety of small community service projects. Get to know local students and collaborate with them to paint a mural inspired by Costa Rican life and culture, helping them with their English. In the afternoons and evenings, learn about Costa Rican culture from our hosts. Help a local cook prepare traditional specialties like gallo pinto, tamales, and tortillas; play a game of pick-up fútbol; or practice Spanish with your new Costa Rican friends. Work as a team and use your new photography skills to create a photo-essay that tells the story of your time living in the community.

Days 11-12: Northwest Coast

Return to our base on the Pacific coast for the final days of the program. Reflect on your experiences in Costa Rica during a celebratory dinner with your fellow travelers and trip leaders before returning home.