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Costa Rica Rewilding

Wildlife + Cloud Forest

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Rescue, rehabilition and release

Showcases the best of Costa Rica in our eyes!

Embrace the ‘pura vida’ and join a team of volunteers on a wildlife conservation biased adventure that’ll take you right to the heart of Costa Rica, where you’ll meet some dynamic characters determined to make a difference to Costa Rica's incredible and unique wildlife.

Your adventure will journey through 3 different locations, starting at the Sun Rescue Wildlife sanctuary on the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica’s north west Pacific coast. Here you will see wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release in action before seeing the creatures in the wild in Monteverde. Protecting the turtles on Samara beach will be the perfect sunset end to this fast paced experience.

This is what we have planned…

Embrace the ‘pura vida’ and join a team of volunteers on a conservation based adventure that’ll take you right to the heart of Costa Rica


Program Itinerary

Welcome to our Costa Rican rewilding program.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Arrival

San Jose Meet the team

Arrival in San Jose

You will all be picked up at San Jose Airport and taken to the Rosa of America hotel to decompress after your flight. There is a little pool here, cute little bungalows and the surround sound jungle noise so you will instantly feel the tropical vibe of this stunning country.


Accommodation

Rosa of America Hotel

Food

Breakfast and supper included.

Weeks 1 + 2

Sun Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary Rewilding and Conservation

Welcome to Sun Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary

Week 1 and 2
You’ll be up early to head out to Sun Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary. This is one of those very special places which we have been wanting to support for years...and has been suffering through lock down as they rely heavily on volunteer income to feed the animals and employ their staff.

Their main ethos is to rescue, rehabilitate and release their wildlife, so you will see satisfying process in action, whilst enjoying guided beaches walks, clean ups and waterfall hikes on your day off.

They are delighted to have you all to stay and have lots of jobs for you to help with such as:

  • Daily feeding of the wildlife
  • Daily cleaning out the cages
  • Basic renovations




Accommodation

Really lovely cabana style accommodation with bunk beds.

Food

3 meals a day provided.

Week 3

Santa Teresa + Turtle Sanctuary Turtles and Downtime

Beach Time and Turtles

5 nights
So, you’ve explored the jungle, helped the wildlife now it’s time to hit the beach and find the turtles. Heading to the epi-centre of the Leap operations in Costa Rica – that being Santa Teresa. It is a very cool, hip town with a great surfing, yoga vibe.

What we have planned here is to stay beachside but within this time you will nip off for 3 nights to live and work at Cirenas. They can only take 12 at a time so you will split into two teams and head out back to back.

Whilst you’re at the beach – you will have some down time, 2 x surf lessons and a spot of yoga thrown in for good measure.

3 nights
Cirenas is one of Costa Rica’s main wildlife conservation NGO’s. Their base is focused on turtle conservation who need our help to protect the eggs and hatchlings of Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species, who visit this ‘semi-intensive’ nesting beach at night to nest.

The principle objective is to protect adult female turtles and their nests, from human predators and wildlife, natural events such as beach erosion and flooding due to high amounts of rainfall in nesting season. This is achieved by the construction of a ‘hatchery’.

Here you will work between 4 and 6 hours per day with occasional night shifts.

Typical jobs will include; maintenance of infrastructure and surroundings, beach cleaning, night patrols to look for nesting female turtles (in season), transport of food and water, collection of data and releasing baby turtles into the ocean.

We are also trying to protect them from the effects of plastic in the ocean, so the beach clean ups are vital.



Accommodation

Santa Teresa beach – hip little beachside hostel.
Cirenas – you’ll live in a very chic volunteers bungalow in the middle of the jungle, just a 10 min stroll from the beach.

Food

Santa Teresa – Breakfast and lunch included.Supper will be extra in one of the beachside cafes.

Cirenas – 3 meals a day provided.

Week 4

Monte Verde Cloud Forest Cloud Forest Adventure

Monte Verde Cloud Forest

Set on 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 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 is privileged to receive a steady supply of clouds and the life-giving moisture that they contain. This moisture, often in the form of fog, catches on branches of the tallest trees and drips down to other organisms below. This helps to support a complex and far-reaching ecosystem that harbours over 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, tens of thousands of insect species, and over 2,500 varieties of plants.

Each day here, you will walk and explore this amazing location via guided hikes, zip wiring across canyons or join a hanging bridge tour.

Accommodation

Local hostel in the center of town

Food

2 meals a day - supper is out and about in the town

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Covid Protocol Responsible and safe travel

Social Bubble
The Leap team and staff in the camp will create a social bubble. Handwash and cough and sneeze protocol as stipulated by WHO will be respected.

When outside the accommodation in each location, everyone will have to respect the social distancing rules and wear masks when they are in shops, cafes and supermarkets.

Airport Transfers
The whole team will be picked up in our sanitized air-conditioned minivans, with support vehicles for luggage. The drivers will all be part of the volunteer bubble.

Symptoms - Sick Bay
Anyone showing any mild symptoms will be housed in separate accommodation in each location. If we feel the symptoms are Covid related Chris will get the patient and team tested and protect everyone accordingly.

If someone tests positive, we will follow the government regulations, but this will involve isolating the whole group for 8 days to make sure no one else gets sick. In this case we will make sure everyone is kept busy with projects in the phase, before moving to the next phase.

Program Details & Costs

This is a new program which is to be lead by our experienced Costa Rican team.

Options and costs

Whats included?

National Park

Live in one of the most iconic National Parks in the world.

Social Life

Team of 24 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

Wildlife

Help save the wildlife center.

Environments

Three different environments to explore.

Free time

You will have free time interwoven into your 4 week.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Downtime in one the local yoga retreat.
  • Surfing in Samara.
  • Kayaking & Snorkelling.
  • Zip wiring through the National Park.

Jungle Surf Camp - it's so much more.

This program is run by the dynamic Chris Patterson who has been our Costa Rican partner for over 10 years.

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.

In addition to the above Chris has planned this adventure for us, in response to the demand of gap year students who want to travel responsibly.

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!

"The most incredible experience"

This 10 week programme was truly the most incredible experience, where I have made amazing friends and immersed myself in getting to know a whole new place and culture.

The camp itself has members of all different volunteer programmes, allowing you to develop incredible relationships with people from all over the world in such a unique environment. I did a month of marine conservation and a month of teaching. The marine conservation was beautiful, and being able to get an advanced open water PADI in marine protected areas of Madagascar was very special.

As for the teaching, this was something which was so special to me, it allowed me to become so connected with the community, and I created bonds with people that I will truly never forget. Seeing students progress over time was so rewarding and allowed me to develop such close relationships. The staff members are super relaxed and it really feels like your own community! Honestly the best experience!!!

- Izzy Proud

" Madagascar leap program SUPERB"

Experience of a lifetime, met people I would never have met and now consider them as my closest friends, gave me a more humble and appreciative view of life and provided me with memories that I can never replace and will never forget.

Highly RECOMMEND!!! (Make sure u like rice and beans and chickens in your room).

- Georgia Burgess

"This experience was life changing."

Although this is from a personal point of view, i wanted to share the great personal development this trip gave me. I believe travel and unknown/unusual environments affects and shapes any individual.

It altered my being in a way i find hard to articulate, it changes you and challenges you that no 9-5 working existence ever could.

- Olivia

"​I had the most incredible time in Namibia "

I had the most incredible time in Namibia even though it flew by. We achieved so much in a short month. The conservation activities were fun and fascinating to be a part of.

A particular favourite of mine was invasive tree demolition and obviously white water rafting. Having limited WiFi made it much easier to click with other people and I’ve made some great friends. Red and Andrea are truly inspiring people and I wish them the best of luck and hope to visit soon to see the progress.

- Ivo

"Awesome, reliable, trustworthy, caring people "

An excellent, very caring group of people who go out of their way to find a solution that works for you. My situation was a little unusual, as my son has Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD and I needed a company who could really listen, understand the situation and find a solution that would work for him.

This fantastic group of people were always there with quick responses and well thought out solutions. Not to mention, it was something that was very last minute. I've had to explain Aspergers to many who have been a part of my sons life over the years - many don't get it, or don't want to get it, or they will only provide a "one sized fits all" solution (which doesn't work) and no options (they don't want to deal with it). This company embraced it and went above and beyond (that's you Jenny).

My son is on his placement now and is loving it - successful because this company listened, responded, and was happy to provide out of the box solutions that worked. Thanks you so much for your part in what will be one of, what will be greatest learning and development opportunities my son has experienced.

- Denise

Gap year post lockdown?

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