2017 Costa Rica Expedition information

Our adventure begins in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital city, where you will meet your expedition leaders, including Dr. Shelley Ball - biologist, educator, photographer and environmental storyteller. Shelley has studied tropical ecology in Costa Rica, having visited just about every corner of this beautiful country. Costa Rica is an amazing place! It is teeming with life - birds, mammals, insects, all kinds of plants, and more! The sights, sounds, scents, will excite your senses! Our Costa Rica YEA Expedition will be an experience of a lifetime!

Where We're Headed!

We'll all be meeting in Sane Jose, but will quickly leave the city to head to the incredible Costa Rican countryside. Our first stop is the Tirimbina Rainforest Center, in the Sarapiquí region. The bird life here is incredible,! This region is home to over half of all of the bird species in Costa Rica. We'll then head to Tortuguero National Park along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Tortuguero is famous as a nesting location for several species of sea turtles. From there we'll head to  La Pavona/Cano Blanco, where we will meet our boat, which will take us to Mawamba Lodge, where we spend the next two nights. The area is teeming with life. Some of the species we hope to see here include  monkeys (spider, howler and white-faced capuchin), crocodiles, tree sloths and a host of colourful tropical birds.

After expiring this incredible region, we'll then head inland to the to the Arenal area, where we'll be staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, for the next few nights. The area is known for its scenic mountains, lakes and hot springs which are heated by the volcano’s underground sources. There, we will explore treetops on a canopy tour, taking in views of Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal, and the surrounding mountains and rain forests. We're even hoping to get in some extra-fun adventure, zip-lining through the rainforest! We'll also explore the incredible natural history among Arenal’s Hanging Bridges. The bridges are built into an extensive number of trails covering nearly two miles of this mountainous rainforest reserve.

The next day we'll explore this lush ecosystem of the region by water, as we board rafts for a quiet ride down the Rio Peñas Blancas. From here, we'll head to the central Pacific region, to Carara National Park, where we overnight at Villa Lapas. Our next adventure will involve venturing out in outrigger canoes for a some relaxing time on the water, including a picnic lunch and snorkeling on a secluded island. Outrigger canoes provide an exciting teambuilding activity, are very stable, more efficient than kayaks and paddling is also a little bit easier. We will glide past spectacular cliffs filled with frigate birds and pelicans and our guide will point out interesting landmarks along the way. We break for lunch and have the opportunity to snorkel from the beach where we enjoy our picnic. We'll enjoy this last day of relaxation, after an exciting week of adventure, before heading back to Sane Jose to catch our flights home.

Don't forget that we are on an expedition and by definition, expeditions involve adventure. That means we need to have a level of flexibility since the exact details of our itinerary may change. But if things do change, it's usually in a good way, so that we can accommodate some incredible opportunity that just landed on our doorstep.



Education Program

We'll settle into our hotel in Sane Jose and spend time getting to know each other before we embark on our incredible adventure together. From Sane Jose, we'll travel to our first destination of our expedition. On our first morning, we'll dive right into  learning about environmental storytelling. We'll be learning about the tools of environmental storytelling - photography and video. We'll learn about the equipment and the fundamentals of how to use them to tell our stories. But it's not all about the technical parts of photography.  The creative elements are just as important and so we'll learn about how we can use creative ways to tell our stories.We don't expect participants to be experienced photographers and videographers. The expedition is all about learning. We'll learn the basics and then launch ourselves into the field to explore and begin putting into practice, the fundamentals we've learned. Each day we'll be learning  a bit more about how to use photo and video to tell the story of our Costa Rica expedition and of the remarkable country which is a leader in biodiversity conservation.d. We'll have evenings to work on our image and video editing, learning from each other and having a great time being creative!

Woven seamlessly into our education program is learning about conservation and environmental issues. As we engage in our adventure, we'll learn how Costa Rica has become a world leader in biodiversity conservation. And we'll learn about our planet's environmental issues. It's important to understanding what our planet is facing. But our emphasis is on solutions - what can each of us do, individually and collectively - to find solutions to environmental issues. We'll address this through lectures and discussion groups. We strongly encourage our participants to journal. Keeping a journal during the expedition is a great way to record the amazing experience we are all having, but it's also a great way to express our thoughts and feelings about the issues we're learning about. It's a way to capture ideas and think about how we each might want to play a role in tackling our planet's environmental issues.

Team building and leadership are also elements that are woven into our expedition. We believe the developing self-confidence and leadership skills are important elements of our personal and professional growth. Regardless of what career you choose, being an effective leader is a key component of success. Another key component of success is our ability to communicate. Communication happens in a variety of different ways. Our focus is on visual communication - through photography and video - but we also want to help participants learn presentation skills so that they can share their photos and videos with the world. For those who love to write, or love poetry or music, we encourage them to use those as means of expression as well.

The hanging bridge at arenal. image courtesy of natural habitat adventures

The hanging bridge at arenal. image courtesy of natural habitat adventures

What's Included and What's Not

Our goal is to provide you with an adventure of a lifetime and to make this as easy as possible for you to participate. So once we all arrive in Costa Rica, we just embark on our expedition having fun, learning, and growing. So once we assemble in Costa Rica, all travel, basic meals, accommodation and park entrance fees and event fees are covered. We've specifically made this adventure very affordable. The cost is $3795 U.S. dollars (based on double-occupancy).

Specifically, here what's included:

  • All of your travel, accommodation and meals in Costa Rica, while on the expedition
  • Entrance fees to national parks and all of our adventure activities and excursions (e.g. zip-lining, boat tours etc)
  • Our incredible Education Program, including instructional workshops in photography, videography, communication and leadership as well as lectures, discussions, team building exercises
  • Pre-expedition support to help you prepare for your incredible adventure
  • Pre-expedition educational materials
  • Biosphere Environmental Education t-shirt, journal and name tag

Here's what's not included in the expedition cost:

  • Your travel to Sane Jose, Costa Rica, our gateway location; we encourage participants to use their airline reward miles to cover the cost of flights
  • Any travel or additional activities you choose to undertake outside of the formal expedition dates
  • Any travel visas or documents needed to enter Costa Rica
  • Any fees associated with your passport
  • Airport taxes
  • Your personal travel medical insurance (which is mandatory)
  • Spending money for snacks, souvenirs, or any additional activities
  • Personal expedition gear, clothing or associated items
waterfall through the rainforest. image courtesy of natural habitat adventure

waterfall through the rainforest. image courtesy of natural habitat adventure

Travel Information

As a condition of participating in the Expedition Costa Rica 2017, all participants must hold a valid passport and that passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the expedition. Participants are also responsible for obtaining any travel visas needed to enter Costa Rica. It is the participants sole responsibility to determine whether they need a visa to enter Costa Rica and to obtain any needed visas. We encourage participants to contact the appropriate embassy/consular mission to determine what documents you require for travel to Costa Rica.

Participants must arrange there own travel to and from San Jose, the gateway city for our expedition. Expedition leaders will arrange to pick participants up at the airport and ensure they arrive at the airport in time for their departure for their return trip home. Once participants arrive in Costa Rica, they will be with expedition leaders and the expedition participants the entire time, unless the participants has arranged their own personal travel in Costa Rica prior to or after the expedition. Any travel outside of the formal expedition dates is the sole responsibility and liability of the participant.

It is mandatory that all participants purchase personal travel medical insurance prior to the expedition. Proof of travel medical insurance is a requirement of final acceptance to the expedition.  Coverage must include a minimum of $100,000 U.S. Coverage for trip cancellation, lost luggage etc is at the discretion of the participants.


All participants must be capable of undertaking physical activities with a moderate level of difficulty. This includes hiking on uneven ground, easy to moderate walking for up to 3 hours, sitting calmly in a small boat. Be aware that Costa Rica is a tropical country and that some parts of it will be warm and humid, which may be different from the climate of your home community. Appropriate dress and drinking plenty of water are important while hiking in a warm and humid environment. Included in the acceptance package, participants will have a medical form and liability waiver to complete as a requirement of participation. All personal information is kept confidential.

 Appropriate Behaviour

As a participants of YEA Expedition Costa Rica 2017, it is expected that all participants will behave in a respectful way toward all participants, including Expedition Leaders and all staff associated with accommodation, travel and expedition activities. Harsh and inappropriate language is not tolerated. Drugs (aside from personal medicines officially prescribed by a physician) and alcohol are not permitted on this expedition and there is a zero-tolerance policy. Violation of these policies could result in the participant being removed from the expedition and being sent home early at their own personal expense. Smoking during the expedition is very highly discouraged. Smoking is not permitting during expedition outings due to safety issues. Our expeditions operate under a philosophy of mutual respect and it is expected that all participants associated with the expedition will behave in a respectful manner at all times. Our goal is to provide an outstanding educational experience for participants. This requires everyone's cooperation and participation in the spirit of adventure, learning, and growing.

sunset on the coast. image courtesy of natural habitat adventures

sunset on the coast. image courtesy of natural habitat adventures