What is the 10 or 7-week Community and Conservation Gap Year Program Adventure in Costa Rica all about?
This unique 10 or 7 -week gap year program is the perfect opportunity to learn more about environmental conservation, community development, and enhance key life skills, make new friends, while witnessing all the beauty that exotic Costa Rica has to offer. You will participate in conservation and community work, including rehabilitation efforts, community education, and infrastructure development … then there is the Great Trek: group hiking adventure through the unspoiled rainforests and volcanoes of Costa Rica.
This 3-module team program is as much about immersing yourself in a new environment and culture as it is about self-discovery and personal development. Each module of the program has set learning objectives, aimed at building your confidence, independence, and adaptability, in a supportive and engaging team setting.
The full program is 10 weeks long and includes 3 modules:
- Community project module
- The Great Trek – an ultimate group hiking adventure module (not to be missed!)
- Environmental project module
The 7-week program consists of 2 of the 3 modules (you can choose which 2).
If you are unsure of your next academic or professional step and are looking for a unique gap year experience and the chance to truly reflect on your goals in life, then this is the program for you.
Why choose our Gap Year Adventure Program in Costa Rica?
- Camp out in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and learn how to survive in different natural environments, including the jungle!
- Contribute to important conservation efforts, helping to preserve and protect vulnerable ecosystems.
- Experience what it is like to be a leader: learn about the power of planning, team effort, and the strength of working together to achieve goals.
- Grow both personally and professionally, learning more about yourself, your capabilities, and your passions.
Outline of the Gap Year Adventure Program
This Gap Year Adventure in Costa Rica is for you if you like variety and don`t want to be stuck doing one thing for an extended amount of time. It gives you the opportunity to experience various aspects of local life and its challenges, but it also offers all the incredible beauty and diversity of jungles, cloud forests, volcanoes, swamps, dry forests and rainforest ecosystems. Here is a sample timeline of a full 10-week program, but bear in mind that the order of the modules may vary. If you choose the 7-week program, you can choose 2 modules.
Your experience starts at base/training camp – disconnect from the outside world by and prepare for the projects ahead. In the first few days, you will work on social skills, including teamwork, communication, social confidence, and you will also get to know your teammates better. You will receive information about the projects and spend your evenings planning activities or discussing challenges by the campfire. Our team leaders will introduce you to the Costa Rican culture and your new environment, and explain how your hard work will contribute to the various projects.
COMMUNITY PROJECT MODULE (19-21 days) – The community project is located in one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica on indigenous territory. Thes communities are the most marginalised members of society, largely excluded from the country’s political, social, and economic development. The project itself is focused on bringing sustainable solutions to issues such as poverty, livelihood, and low levels of education and literacy. You will be part of a team empowering locals to become self-sufficient and liaising with community leaders on challenges they face. Depending on the community`s needs at the time of your arrival, tasks could include:
- working on clean water and sanitation projects
- building infrastructure at schools
- education programs
- after school programs (homework club, playing, etc.)
Staying with your team in a transformed classroom in the local school, you will be fully immersed in the culture, traditions, and cuisine of the indigenous community. In the evenings you will have meaningful reflections where you can share your stories and experiences.
THE GREAT TREK MODULE (19-21 days) – The most challenging but also most rewarding element of the Costa Rican Gap Year Program is the adventure hike. You and your team will embark on an unparalleled journey through the diverse terrains of Costa Rica, ranging from lush rainforests to volcanoes, experiencing magical landscapes that tourists would never see. After enjoying the evening meal that the team has cooked together, you will either pitch a tent and fall asleep under the sky or camp in a community center.
The trek may test you, but you will always have your team’s full support and encouragement to help you push through. Granted, there will be highs and lows, but you will be surprised how much you can grow as an individual in perseverance, adaptability, teamwork, confidence, and empathy. Wilderness hiking will enhance your navigation, and orienteering skills as your group makes its way through unmarked trails. You will also get a feel of what it means to lead a group when it is your turn to be the leader for the day.
The trek is not a difficult terrain, no particular technical skills or experience is needed to participate, just a good attitude and the willingness to adapt to various situations. Highly experienced local guides will support your hiking group throughout the trek. Once you have completed this module, you will return to base/training camp for a few days for a well-deserved rest.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT MODULE (19-21 days) – In this module, you will learn a lot about the importance of preserving Costa Rica`s biggest treasure: its unique biodiversity. Costa Rica hosts a variety of plant and animal species, representing 4% of the planet’s biodiversity. It is also home to some unique animals such as sloths, monkeys, jaguars, pumas, toucans, tree frogs, sea turtles, and scarlet macaws.
Your environmental project will collaborate with national conservation organizations and other government bodies that have a mission to protect the country`s unique ecosystems and educate local communities on why it is important to preserve them.
Your activities could include:
- Reforestation and removal of alien species
- Education activities on how to protect fragile ecosystems
- Improving trails
- Maintaining camera traps
- Biodiversity inventory, etc.
The last part of your program is about returning to base/training camp and reflecting on your journey, what you have gained, and what you have learnt about yourself. You may meet up with your volunteer friends and discuss experiences, and of course, enjoy a final few days in exotic Costa Rica.
What skills do I need to join this 8-week Gap Year Program in Costa Rica?
No specific qualifications are required other than enthusiasm, a sense of adventure and a flexible attitude. You must be willing to embrace the challenges of exploring a new country, and really immerse yourself in the experience. As you will be traveling as a group, you must be respectful and considerate of others.
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To protect Costa Rica`s natural wildlife habitat while helping to empower the vulnerable indigenous communities.
To make a difference whilst exploring a new country and culture
To challenge yourself and meet new people
Where will I work in Costa Rica?
During this gap year adventure, you will be based in the in the Cartago province of Costa Rica, in Turrialba, and the greater area surrounding it. Turrialba is about 2,5 hours drive from the Airport in San José and is situated closer to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
This area is nested amongst breathtaking national parks, wildlife reserves, and protected environmental areas.
Your community project will take place in one of the indigenous areas found in the country. Eight Indigenous Peoples live in Costa Rica: the Huetar, Maleku, Bribri, Cabécar, Brunka, Ngäbe, Bröran, and Chorotega, where they constitute 2.4% of the population.
Details & Costs
- Duration: 10 or 7 weeks
- Cost: £4100 / $4800 (7-week program)
- Requirements: Age 17-24
- Location: Costa Rica
- Working hours: Hours vary depending on project.
- Project availability: 2023: 10-week full program (3 modules): 9 October - 14 December 7-week program (2 modules): - 9 October - 24 November OR - 29 October to 14 December
- Arrival day: Speak to your Kaya Advisor
What is included
- All food and accommodation throughout your program
- Program-related transport
- Juan Santamaría International Airport (San José, Costa Rica) pickup and drop-off
- Orientation upon arrival
- Training: Pre-departure information pack, on-site orientation
- Safety expertise
- Support: 24 hour support
- Cool t-shirt
What is not included
- International flights
- Any excursions outside of the planned itinerary
- Police/Government Background Check; US and UK citizens will be processed through Kaya (admin fee applies) all other nationalities must provide local police check.
- Any costs for vaccines or COVID-19 PCR tests (if required at time of travel)
Easy 4-step application process
Apply online and pay your application fee to apply for your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
Once we’ve received your application, we’ll review your details and be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
Following your interview, we will provide you a placement offer. Once you are ready to confirm your placement and dates, you can pay your confirmation fee to book and secure your space.
When you have confirmed your project dates we'll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
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