Costa Rica may only be approximately the size of West Virginia, but it packs an ecologically diverse punch. Over the course of this twelve-day adventure, you’ll see beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, impressive mountain peaks, and abundant wildlife. You’ll hike in a wildlife-rich national park with local guides, spend time exploring and volunteering at a eco-lodge in the heart of the rainforest, summit Costa Rica’s tallest peak, and surf and snorkel in the Pacific Ocean with professional guides. You’ll return home with a wealth of new friendships, endless stories, and memories to last a lifetime.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Rainforest Ecolodge & Zip Lining
We’ll meet at the San Jose airport and head straight to the Pacific Coast to explore Manuel Antonio National Park. We’ll take a guided tour of the Park with rangers, get to know the resident sloths, enjoy the antics of the three different species of monkeys, and swim in warm, clear Pacific water. We’ll then head south and inland to an eco-lodge in Costa Rica’s Savegre valley. Here, we’ll hike the trails with local guides, work on a community service project with the owners of the eco-lodge, take a lesson in cooking (and eating!) traditional Costa Rican food, and go ziplining through the rainforest canopy.
Hiking Cerro Chirripó & Surfing and Snorkeling at Playa Dominical
Upon emerging from the rainforest, we’ll be primed and ready to tackle our biggest challenge: summiting Cerro Chirripó. At 12,533 feet, Chirripó is not only the tallest mountain in Costa Rica, but it’s the tallest mountain we conquer on any Apogee trip! The trip will take three days, first hiking up to an alpine hut where we’ll spend the night before trekking up to the peak. After soaking in the glorious views from the summit, we’ll hike back down to the hut where we’ll spend another night before descending the mountain and transiting out to the beach. What better way to celebrate our incredible achievement than by surfing and snorkeling?! We’ll take a boat ride out to Caño Island with professional guides where we’ll snorkel some of the most biologically diverse waters in Central America. The next day, we’ll hang ten as we learn how to surf on the beautiful beaches of Playa Dominical. A festive farewell dinner in San Jose with our new friends will cap off our Costa Rican adventure.
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
How physically challenging is CRMC?
Given a Challenge Level of 5 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider Costa Rica Mountains & Coast to be an intermediate hiking trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some preparation. Compared to similar hiking trips, we believe that CRMC is slightly more challenging than our Maine’s Downeast Explorer trip (mostly due to trip length and the challenge of summiting Chirripó), but just a bit easier than our Northwest Explorer trip. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
Does my child need to speak Spanish sign up for CRMC?
No – your child’s leaders will be fluent in Spanish and will be able to communicate with the locals on behalf of the group, translating when necessary. That being said, if your son or daughter does speak Spanish and wishes to practice, there are ample opportunities to use their Spanish-language skills throughout the trip.
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 Mountains & Coast trip will include travel to and from San Jose, Costa Rica, a sleeping bag, a backpacking pack, and hiking boots.
Where will my child be sleeping at night?
All accommodations on CRMC 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. 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 CRMC, usually corresponding with the group’s rest/transit 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 or WhatsApp, 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.
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 luggage should my child check on the plane? What should be carried on?
This question is addressed in detail in our Travel Information document for enrolled students. Generally speaking, however, your child will be checking a backpacking pack containing the majority of their gear, while carrying-on their medications and a few other travel essentials. Hiking boots should be worn on the plane in the event of a delayed or lost bag.
Is this trip van-supported? How do they get from place to place?
Apogee’s leaders do not drive on international trips. Instead, Apogee works with a transportation company in Costa Rica to shuttle the group from place to place. This means that there is no van in which students can leave extra belongings. To that end, please follow the packing list very closely to avoid over-packing. Their backpack should not be full to the brim upon departure, as they’ll need some room in the pack to carry group gear on occasion.
What does the community service portion of this trip entail?
Our service projects vary from year to year, but most CRMC groups will work with the eco-lodge at which we stay, doing trail maintenance or helping build and maintain a communal medicine garden. Students can expect 4-6 hours of community service on CRMC and will receive a letter verifying the service at the summer’s end.