Costa Rica Adventure

Conservation + Cloud Forest


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Costa Rica's hidden gems

A volunteering and cloud forest combo

If time is short, or you are just travelling through this tropical sun drenched country, and fancy doing more than hostel hopping then this 3 week gap year program to Costa Rica might be just what is needed.

Head to our base on the stunning pacific coast to join a team of volunteers where you will contribute to forest and beach conservation before heading off inland to explore the heady heights of Monteverde's cloud forest.

Zip wire through the canopy and trek through the heart of this cloud forest, to seek out Costa Rica's extraordinary wildlife and fauna.

Get your binoculars ready.

Venture out to Costa Rica to experience a unique mix of forest conservation and community volunteering combined with a cloud forest adventure in Monteverde.

Program Itinerary

You will be based in the stunning Leap house, just up from the beach for 2 weeks before heading off inland to explore the cloud forest of Monteverde.

The following is a sample itinerary.


Jungle Camp

Welcome to Costa Rica

Upon touchdown you will be met at the airport and transferred for your 1st night in a hostel in San Jose. The following morning you will be transferred by minibus on an utterly stunning multi-logistical transfer to the Nicoya Peninsula – so brace yourself.

Your ultimate destination is the Leap house called 'Jungle Camp', based next to the lively beach town of Santa Teresa, world famous for surf breaks across beaches so pristine, uncrowded and seemingly endless that they are regularly listed in the World’s 10 Best Beaches.

Here you will spend 2 weeks helping with our forest and community projects, before exploring the town which comes alive with funky surf shops, cafes, restaurants and nightspots for every taste and budget.

During your first week you'll combine Spanish lessons, designed to help you interact with the local community, with surf instruction, so you can take advantage of the beaches on your door step.

Surf and Spanish Lessons
While you're based at the Jungle Camp you will have the option to join a few Spanish lessons, (tailored to all levels) and join in some group surf lessons where you'll learn some basic skills and water safety so you can take advantage of the amazing surf on your door step.


'Jungle Camp' is just a 10 min walk from the beach. The house is simple but super stylish centred around a swimming pool set in tropical gardens.

Bathrooms have western style toilets and showers with hot and cold water.


Breakfast and lunch only.
Dinner is not included. Most volunteers either eat in one of the local restaurants or cook whatever they want in the camp kitchen.

Wks 1 - 2

Santa Teresa Forest Conservation + Community

Conservation and Community Projects

During your first 2 weeks you will get stuck into a mix of the following:

Beach Clean-ups
The beaches around Santa Teresa are stunning and have been awarded the "Blue Flag status" giving them international recognition. However, keeping the standards high is an ongoing battle which involves the whole local community to help with the weekly beach clean-ups to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans.

Forest Conservation and Guided Hikes
Here you will help with the upkeep of Santa Teresa’s neighbouring tropical forest whilst learning about the biodiversity of flora and fauna in this special part of the world. Typical jobs will include: cleaning debris from streams, maintaining the trails and planting trees in the forest nursery before venturing out on night-time hikes to check on the nocturnal wildlife.

Community Projects
You will become a key member of the community by helping with after-school swimming and art clubs.



Venture Inland

Having spent 2 weeks at the beach, it's now time to venture inland to the top of the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide - Monteverde is a world above the coastal towns that dot the country's famous shoreline. It is a place of cloud forests, coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals. The main town of Santa Elena is small and quaint, filled with tasty restaurants and folksy artisan shops, while the nearby rainforest hosts a remarkable amount of biodiversity.

Due to its high altitude – some 4,662 ft (1,440 m) above sea level – Monteverde receives a steady supply of clouds and the life-giving moisture that they contain. This moisture, often in the form of fog, catches on the branches of the tallest trees and drips down to the other organisms below. This helps to support a complex and far-reaching ecosystem, one that harbours over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species, and over 2,500 varieties of plants, 420 of which are orchids alone.

Simply stunning.


Guest house in dorm style rooms. Bathrooms, with hot showers.


Breakfast and lunch only.

Dinner will be extra in one of the local restaurants.

Wk 3

Cloud Forest Adventure Week

Trek and Zip Wire Under The Canopy

Here you will have the chance to explore this internationally recognised environment from trails and trams, along canopy tours or inside museums.

On a daily basis you will walk and explore this amazing location - 2 guided half day hikes are included on day 2 and 3. There are also some amazing optional extra activities like their famous zip wire, horse riding and a coffee tour.

Program Details & Costs

We have three departures to Costa Rica throughout the year: February, May and October for 3 weeks. You will be joining a team of leapers who are already out there, on our 10 week program, so easy to slot in and flexible to extend if you want to stay to experience turtle conservation, surfing and Spanish. Take a look.

Feb, May & Oct programs start on:

2019: 18 Oct

2020: 11 Feb, 8 May, 9 Oct


3 Weeks
2 weeks Santa Teresa + 1 week Monteverde
2019: £19012020: £1901

Your food

Please note that we only provide breakfast and lunch in Santa Teresa and Monteverde. While in Santa Teresa previous Leapers have chosen to combine eating out in with cooking in the house kitchen which is fully equipped and has everything you need, so it's possible to eat cheaply and cook easy food. When in Monteverde you will have to budget for dinner in a restaurant, no self catering option. There are lots of 'eating out' options to suit every budget.

Dates Don't Suit?

Don't worry we have other program options in Costa Rica - our 10 week program which includes turtles, Spanish, surfing and Monteverde or a another 3 week option which includes turtles and forest conservation.

Beach Life

Bliss. You will be living right on the beach down the road from a hip surf town.

Social Life

The house can accommodate up to 25 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

The Bigger Picture

Be part of the worldwide push to preserve the forests.


Head into the central highlands to explore the cloud forest.

Monday to Friday

Expect to be busy with your projects 5 days per week for about 5 hours a day.


Weekends will generally be free time. You’re welcome to stay and chill at the Jungle Camp or head off for a change of scene.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Downtime in one the local yoga retreat.
  • Surfing in Santa Teresa.
  • Spend a day white water rafting
  • Kayaking & Snorkelling around the coast line.
  • Whale and dolphin watching.
  • Horse ride through the forest.

Jungle Surf Camp - it's so much more.

Our Costa Rica program is run by the dynamic Chris Patterson who together with his wife, family and team have created the Jungle Surf Camp on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

Chris has run travel and Spanish courses since the 1990’s and has become increasingly passionate about the crisis of plastic waste in our waters and the damage it is doing. Seeing dolphins and turtles time and time again, washed up on the shoreline wrapped up in discarded fishing nets was enough to break him into action.

So, Chris now welcomes volunteers into his home, lovingly named the Jungle Surf Camp, who will set about learning Spanish with the aim to get out into the community to bang the drum about plastic. Backed by the Oceans of Plastic campaign and documentaries he wants our leapers to teach, explain and steer changing attitudes.

Practically, he has set up village recycling stations and organises rubbish collections, he encourages supermarkets to stop using plastic bags and beach bars not to use plastic drinking straws…simple initiatives but together will help enforce the message and give practical meaning to the bigger picture. Community beach clean-ups are also now part of everyday life and blue flag awards are being handed out.

Chris has also built a great relationship with ASVO – one of the leading NGO’s tackling the plight of the turtle on the Pacific coast. They now take our volunteers as part of their program, as they have consistently turned up and got stuck in.

Chris and the combined efforts of all the volunteers are making a difference but it can't stop now the momentum is rolling...

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been getting up to...

Painting signs, recycling and turtles Lucy Dickens

So the first week of our stay in Costa Rica at Jakera is done. In my opinion I feel it has gone slowly but for others it’s gone quite fast. Our first day was just travelling from the airport to Jakera. It was a LONG journey, mini bus then a ferry and then a mini bus again. But the next day was great it was a free day but most of us all went out to watch the sunset and for dinner. The sunset here is so beautiful!

A lot of us have tried various restaurants and some have been amazing and some not so much. But while we’re here why not try something new and not order a burger?

Spanish lessons. I’ve started to really enjoy our Spanish it’s so nice to be able learn the language whilst we are here. We have different groups based on your level of understanding but we all have them in the morning.

One of the projects we have been doing is creating signs for the beach on littering, recycling, no vehicles on the beach and rocky areas. To finish them it took us maybe 3 days as we had to let the paint dry so we could go over to outline it.

Our turtle watches. I’m afraid to say we have not seen any baby turtles yet as they haven’t hatched. We hope they will in the next day or two. We all take 3 hour shifts everyday from 6am till 12pm. The shifts were uneventful and slightly painful sitting for 3 hours with no turtles. But hey they will come some day!

We also have had a trip to another beach to teach some kids how to surf. When I say the word teach I use it loosely, we took them out spun them around and then pushed them when a wave came. It was a lot of fun being able to help them out and play with them though.

Hopefully we will see turtles next at Montezuma. Until then it was lovely chatting with you!

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

We began building our own turtle hatchery at Banana Beach in Santa Teresa on Monday. Jakera decided they would like to take on the mission of helping out the turtles themselves. With our shovels and rakes we cleared out an area and began digging as well as made signs for the new hatchery. We spent a couple of our mornings this week surfing. With the help of Chris, we rented a couple of surf boards, got up early in the morning and headed down to the beach. Since Henry surfs almost daily back home in California, he acted as our surf instructor and helped us attempt to catch a couple of waves. Also, this week Kat and I attended another yoga class. This one was also at sunset. The yoga classes always make us feel very relaxed and, while some of the stretches may be strange or difficult, it’s very enjoyable.

On Friday, as a group, we decided to take a short weekend trip to a town called Tamarindo. I was impressed to see paved roads and sidewalks. The first day we arrived, we didn’t waste any time finding a place to eat lunch. As we explored the new town and the new night life, we started the night off with a toast to our friends that couldn’t be there with us and to the ones that have already made their way back home. Saturday was spent relaxing at the beach and visiting the shops in town.

Sunday, we booked a boat tour on the river. Tamarindo is known for its crocodiles and we saw a few, we also were able to see monkeys, different types of birds and iguanas. To see the monkeys our guide had us get off the boat and walk through the jungle. We also discovered a new kind of insect this weekend. Our time in Tamarindo was a great way to spend the weekend and I felt that we were able to bond in a different kind of way than before. The next day would be spent going back to Santa Teresa for a final week before we all head our separate ways back home.

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

Monteverde has been a very different experience, since we got to work in a variety of places!

For the first week, we helped out at a local school with their gardening project. There were multiple different beds that needed work, as well as a cute car tyre garden that we created! The best part of that week was working together. The tyre garden came together from nothing with everyone helping in different ways. It was nice to have a project to work on from start to finish, and at the end, we left our mark, with everyone painting their hands and leaving handprints! We had lots of fun and did lots of work! The kids at this school were just as welcoming as the last school, and we played games with them during free time. The kids were always willing to help, and insisted on grabbing our shovels and paint brushes and being a part of the team!

In our free time, we got to explore the Monteverde Reserve, discovering beautiful overlooks and an amazing suspension bridge! It was wonderful to be able to actually get to know the trails that we worked on, and we loved the forests so much we went back for more, doing hikes over and over again and making sure everyone in the group got to see it.

Last weekend, we found out about some natural hot springs nearby and a group of us braved the long, slippery walk down to relax in them! It was definitely worth the hike- the view of the hills was incredible, and the hot springs were two levels high and right next to a beautiful waterfall. We spent the entire afternoon there, leaving right as it started to rain.

We’re very excited for our reforestation work next week, look out for more info and pics on it soon!
When we aren’t working, we’ve been exploring Santa Elena, finding great restaurants and ice cream shops! The area is beautiful, but walking the hills every day wears us out, so we’ve had early bedtimes here. The host families we’re staying with have been incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and we’re trying to practice our Spanish more with them!

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