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Costa Rica Rewilding

Wildlife + Cloud Forest

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Rescue, rehabilition and release

Showcases the best of Costa Rica

UPDATE (For British Citizens): Costa Rica is currently on the UK Hotel Quarantine Red List so our plan is to add 10 days in a non-red list destination on your way home to the UK.

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 animals and birds.

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 you head to Santa Teresa to practice your yoga and surfing. After this you'll head to Cirenas for a spot of turtle conservation before the grand finale of Monteverde - where you will explore the cloud forest and tackle their amazing zip wires - got to be done.

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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Red List Response Save Responsible Travel

Travelling to a Red List Country

We want to reassure people that whilst the UK has added Costa Rica to a red list we closely monitor the covid situation and have effective covid safety policies in place and whilst covid is a risk in any country it’s not hampering our ability to safely run the program and not affecting any activity.

Whilst the rates have recently increased in Costa Rica, rates are steadily dropping and their vaccination rate is being effectively rolled out – they have vaccinated approx. 29% of the population (1 st dose).

The government have taken local initiatives to reduce covid numbers, such as maintaining a curfew from 9PM and closing various establishments that do not abide by their covid laws. These initiatives are working. None of these restrictions stop us from delivering the program or itinerary and with a like-minded team of people at the camp, being back in camp before 9 PM doesn’t affect the ability to socialise in camp either.

Costa Rica has an excellent medical system and there is no risk of lack of beds in hospitals especially in the numerous private hospitals which would be the hospitals that Leapers use through their travel insurance.

They have an effective trace system and no known variants of concern (that we are aware of). All of which surprises us that the UK government has made this decision.

The Costa Rica government welcome UK travellers who comply with their entry requirements and they are made very welcome in our project locations by the communities who are so pleased with the help that Leapers are providing, not just to the projects we support but also to the local economy.

To minimise risk, we provide comprehensive covid safety protocols (risk management) pre departure outlined in the placement guidelines, in our briefings and on the website and during the program we carry out induction briefings, provide safety instructions: hygiene/washing etc to comply with any local laws (social distance, curfews etc).

Much of the program takes place outside in well ventilated spaces in a warm climate, all of which significantly reduce the transmission of covid.

In the six months we have been successfully sent volunteers to Costa Rica we have not had one Leaper become seriously ill or hospitalized due to covid.

To safely and responsibly avoid UK hotel quarantine, we add on 11 nights in an amber country on the way home.

Flying to another country for 11 nights is also safe as its based on complying with that countries entry requirement (such as a negative PCR test) before you can enter.

We will continue to run our programs for those who would like to go and will endeavour to find safe and responsible solutions to get you home.

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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 dynamic fast paced program, lead by our experienced Costa Rican team.

Options and costs

Our next trip heads off in September.

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!

Watch our videos

Costa Rica Rewilding

April 2021

"Thank you so much for giving my son life long friends and experiences"

My son has just got back from an amazing trip to Madagascar. The Leap were great in keeping in contact with emails, blogs and can call and get a speedy reply if you need to contact them, thank you so much for giving my son life long friends and experiences.
Many thanks to Milly from The Leap who was amazing.

- Nikki Field

"​I highly recommend first time travellers to use the Leap"

The trip to Madagascar is incredible as you get to experience such a diverse, beautiful island. The locals are super friendly and life on camp is great as you start to feel like a family. As the leap is one of three volunteering schemes on the same camp it’s easy to make lots of friends. Scuba diving was the most amazing experience.

Teaching was very very rewarding and made it easier to make friends with the local community. As I was ill whilst out there I can honestly say that The Leap was definitely worth the price as I was cared for very well and had someone come to hospital with me and translate everything as well as being very kind and caring. Overall, Madagascar was an amazing trip and I will definitely go back.

- Lucy Newman

"Would 100% do it all again"

Such an incredible month. It really was an experience that I will never forget and this was all down to Andrea and Red. They made the trip so enjoyable and everything we did was sure to make an impact on the conservancy, which was such a nice thing to see and feel.

Base camp was a super cool place to stay for the month and certainly wasn't like anywhere I had stayed before. Unreal. Thank you so much to both of you and I wish you all the best xx

- Millie

"An experience not to be missed!​​"

The Leap took all the responsibility and stress out of the gap year experience. Would advise that all teenagers do this part of their gap year before they 'free' travel. The Leap are highly professional and inclusive of parents.

- Sara

"Thank you for making this possible despite Covid. "

Thank you for the update. As expected George has maintained radio silence so good to hear that they have arrived ok. Also wanted to say how useful your video updates have been. I’m so envious of them launching on their travel adventures. Seems like only yesterday that I was heading off with a backpack. No phones, only a weekly blue airmail letter home. Thanks to all at the leap for making this possible for them despite Covid.


- Romney Lewis

"You are amazing organising it all"

How exciting for them!! - Trip of a lifetime. Inigo has been stuck at home since last March as I suppose they all have - so what a wonderful, exciting, fun and not to mention horizons broadening time they will have. You are AMAZING organising it all - I don't know how you do it. Huge thanks for everything


- Rose (mum)

Gap year post lockdown?

Worried about how to travel and plan your gap year post lockdown? We can help. We have sent lots of gappers away through the last 6 months and can confidently call ourselves Covid Travel Experts. Get in contact to start the ball rolling.

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