Pura Vida. Costa Rica’s national motto means “pure life” – and pura vida is exactly what you’ll experience as you explore the wonders of this tropical, exotic paradise. Over the course of our 13-day eco-adventure, you will immerse yourself in a country rich with fascinating wildlife, outdoor adventure, and some of the most beautiful rainforests the world has to offer. You will spend several days working on your Spanish skills at an engaging and interactive Costa Rican language school where your outdoor classroom is canopied by the green, verdant rainforest around you and visited by the occasional toucan. What’s more, you’ll dig into meaningful service projects alongside locals in the lively and unique communities you visit.
Spanish Classes, Turrialba & White Water Rafting
We’ll jump right into our adventure with morning Spanish classes in the lush, beautiful town of Turrialba, surrounded by high mountains and vibrant forest. With the guidance of our Spanish teachers, we will pick-up useful vocabulary and use new tools to communicate with locals and absorb Costa Rican culture. Our experienced teachers work creatively to make sure students are not just engaged, but having fun as the Spanish language becomes both comfortable and familiar. Our afternoons will be spent putting our new skills to the test as we explore the forests, trails, and swimming holes in the area and volunteer at a local children’s home. We’ll finish our time in Turrialba with a day of pure adventure: white water rafting on the tropical Pacuare River – one of the world’s top white water rafting destinations!
Rainforest Ecolodge, Manuel Antonio National Park & Ziplining
Midway through our trip, we’ll transit toward the west coast of Costa Rica where we’ll hike into a rainforest ecolodge, our new home for the next few nights. Perched on a rushing river in the shadow of a gorgeous waterfall, this rustic, authentic environment will allow us to truly experience the language, the people, and the land. During our stay here, we’ll learn to cook local dishes made from foods found in the nearby forest, and work alongside locals in the community garden. You’ll explore the incredibly diverse forest all around you – and you might even find a red-eyed tree frog during a nighttime hike through the forest! On our final days together we’ll head to the Pacific Coast to explore Manuel Antonio National Park and its astonishing wealth of wildlife and natural beauty. We’ll take a guided tour of the Park with rangers, get to know the resident sloths, enjoy the antics of the three species of monkeys in the area, swim in warm, clear Pacific water, and then spend our last morning flying high above the jungle canopy on Central America’s longest zipline! A farewell dinner in San Jose and a final evening of pura vida with new friends will round out our rich and full Costa Rican adventure!
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is CRLS?
Given a rating of Challenge Level 4 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider CRLS to be a intermediate service trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete. While the majority of our service projects will not be too physically demanding, students will engage in moderate hikes throughout the trip, as well as undertake several hands-on service projects while at the eco-lodge. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
How much Spanish does my child need to know prior to his or her trip?
None – Spanish-language experience is not a prerequisite for CRLS. This trip is designed to accommodate a wide variety of Spanish-speaking levels – from none at all to fluency. Upon arriving at the Spanish school, each student will complete a brief placement evaluation. Students will be placed with teachers who will work specifically with his/her level – in groups of no more than six students. Students with no previous Spanish-speaking experience are encouraged to dive into this experience as well.
How many hours of Spanish language instruction will I receive on CRLS? How many hours of community service will I earn?
While at our language school, students will spend 3-5 hours a day receiving instruction. This amounts to approximately 20 hours of Spanish instruction over the course of the trip. When performing service, students will spend between 4-6 hours a day on projects for a total of 20 to 25 hours.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Costa Rica Language & Service trip will include travel to and from San Jose, Costa Rica, a sleeping bag liner, a moderately-sized backpack, and hiking boots or shoes.
Will my child need to get any special vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica?
Apogee has no vaccination requirements beyond those required in the US. Please note that the US Center for Disease Control recommends most travelers to Costa Rica obtain Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines. Families are encouraged to consult with their physician for more information, and to familiarize themselves with the most recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. State Department.
What does a typical day on CRLS look like?
The first half of the trip will vary from the second half. During our first week, students will take interactive Spanish classes in the central valley of Costa Rica. Classes will run in the morning from about 8-12; afternoons will be spent engaged in volunteer projects coordinated with our Spanish school. The second half of the trip will be spent primarily at an eco-lodge in the Costa Rican rainforest and at a hostel on the Pacific Ocean. Students will learn about local ecology, cook authentic Costa Rican cuisine, and explore waterfalls and swimming holes. Throughout the whole trip, students should expect to be up early (around 6:30 a.m.) in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the mornings.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
All accommodations on CRLS will be indoors – in hostels and eco-lodges. Sleeping accommodations are fairly rustic, but students should expect to have a bed every night of the trip as well as access to running water and showers on a daily basis. The eco-lodge where the group will spend three nights is located in a remote area of the rainforest in a gorgeous setting. There will be filtered drinking water, but, due to its remote location, no hot water.
How often will my child call home on this trip?
Parents can expect a phone call home about once a week on CRLS, usually corresponding with the group’s rest days. Students on international trips will also call home at some point on arrival day, depending on schedules and arrival times.
Should I send my child to Costa Rica with an international phone plan or a calling card?
We encourage families to send their child with a phone for pre- and post-trip communication. However, because Apogee does not permit the use of cell phones by students while on trip, we do not recommend signing up for a Costa Rican phone plan. You are welcome to send a calling card with your child, but they will also be able to use their leaders’ phone to communicate over WiFi. We’ll likely recommend parents download a free app, such as Viber, to facilitate calls home. Look for this information in the spring.
This trip starts outside of the United States. What do I need to know before traveling internationally?
In addition to needing a valid passport, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees. To that end, we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. To aid in international travel planning, we have a flight information table which details arrival and departure airports and times for each of our trips. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Costa Rica.