Costa Rica 2018
09 February 2018
Returns: 18 February 2018
Staff member in charge
Ms Sadia Hussain
Twenty seven pupils and three teachers will embark on an expedition travelling around Costa Rica. Here they will experience a range of microclimates while observing the change in biodiversity of plant and animal species the country boasts.
During this exciting ten days pupils will enjoy climbing a volcano, riding through a jungle by riverboat, surfing, turtle watching, and visiting a local primary school, amongst many other activities.
Scroll down to view our day-by-day blog and gallery from the trip
Twenty seven very sleepy pupils made their way down to breakfast at 6 am. Over breakfast we watched the blanket of darkness lift as the sun rose to reveal the beauty of San Jose that had been missed during our midnight arrival into the country. Our guide Leonardo took every opportunity to share his vast knowledge, teaching us that Costa Rica means 'rich coast' named by Columbus when he discovered the coast was rich in flora and fauna. Although we think about Central America as having a wet season and a dry season it is more accurately considered a wet season and a not so wet season. He talked us about the value of the local currency colones... not just as money but in its artwork which represents the biodiversity of the country.
After departing the hotel we spent two hours on the bus with Leonardo filling us with amazing facts about the biology, history and culture of this country for which he expressed immense pride. After passing through Costa Rica's only road tunnel our first stop was to visit a fruit shop where we were introduced to many local fruits and vegetables such as the star apple, yuka, plantain, and the pejibaye - which is apparently best served warm with mayo and a cup of coffee!
Our second stop was at Tirimbina Rainforest Reserve for a hike up to the cocao plantation. En route we stopped to see ants one inch long, and blue jeans tree frog (also known as the strawberry poison arrow frog), before walking across the longest hanging bridge in Costa Rica. We had the opportunity to learn about the chocolate making process, it's history and the contributions of Fry, Llindt, and Nestle to the processes. We participated in the chocolate making process and tasted our own chocolate.
The day ended with a quick stop for a photo opportunity with a giant lizard in the town of Las Iguanas, and then a wander around La Fortuna town to put our haggling skills to test.
An early night.. for another early start.
It was another very early start today, departing the hotel at the crack of dawn. The aim was to reach the northern town of Los Chiles by 7.30 am to embark on our exploration of the jungle area surrounding the Rio Frio river by boat. It was a slow start to the tour but the excitement was soon sparked by the sight of howler monkeys feeding, a five foot long caymen, osprey, white-faced capuchin monkeys, Jesus Christ lizards running across the surface if the river, and several types of rare birds. After a tour south of the river the boat was turned around and we followed the river up to the border with Nicaragua. Lunch was a traditional meal of rice and beans with a local salad. The evening was spent enjoying the Ecothermales - natural hot springs. Thoroughly exhausted, we decided to have an early night in anticipation of what tomorrow may bring.
Our day started after a welcome lie-in. The only lie-in of the trip. Today the plan was to travel to the village of Sonafluca. Here we were hosted by Don Agenaldo and his wife Donya Felicia. They gave us a tour around their farm and taught us about the produce they grow and the species of plants on their farm, using traditional farming methods. They were kind enough to allow us to join them for lunch, after which Don Agenaldo showed us various trinkets and artefacts he has collected over the years. He then talked us through the traditional methods of sugar production from sugar cane.
The afternoon was spent at Sonafluca Escuela - Sonafluca's only elementary school. The children at this school are from a farming background and lead what Leonardo described as ' humble lives'. The director of the school Edward Gambia gave us a tour of their simple school, proud to show us the new class set of laptops recently donated, which meant all children were now able to attend a weekly IT lesson. The next stop was their latest addition - their newly built library which has a basic selection of books on its shelves. The children then led the way into the assembly hall where they encouraged us to join in with their dancing and games. The visit ended with a question and answer session during which we were able to ask each other questions about our lives and schooling.
It was such an eye-opening experience seeing how it is possible to be so happy with such simple lives
The group had an early departure from La Fortuna this morning, to challenge the winding roads to the cloudforest region of Monteverde, which sits 4000 metres above sea level. Since much of Costa Rica is conserved nature reserves the only route was around Lake Arenal, eventually arriving at 5pm. It was a rush to change for dinner, after which we went straight to our organised night walk. Our fantastic guides walked us through the cloudforest by torch light in hope to spot some interesting animals. The first of which we came across was a baby green viper snake. Our guide showed us a tarantula hiding in a tree hole, and a green toucan amongst others.
Another early rise but this time a less so sleepy one. We headed up into the cloudforest once again, but this time to see the forest from high above the canopy by zip line.
After lunch we boarded the bus once again for another long drive, this time heading west to the town of Tamarindo on the Pacific coast. We arrived just in time to see the sun set and spent some time pool side before dinner. That left just enough time for a quick siesta before we met again at 10pm to head to Ostinal turtle reserve in hope of seeing a turtle. Luck was on our side and we were allowed to watch Leatherback nestlings being released after hatching. Further along the beach we saw an Olive Ridley turtle laying her eggs, which we then saw returning to the ocean. A truly majestic moment.
After a lazy morning at the hotel we packed off for a surfing lesson on one of Costa Rica's finest beaches in Tamarindo. The waves were great and some individuals proved to be naturals, although a good time was had by all. The picnic lunch on the beach was welcomed after the hot, exhausted group emerged from the sea.
Dinner was in a fantastic Latin restaurant with live music to celebrate our last night on the beach.
The group departed early this morning for the long 5 hour drive back to San Jose. Many soveneirs were bought and much ice cream was eaten during the stop offs on the way. On reaching San Jose we has a quick walking tour of the city to visit the cathedral where the tomb of the president Thomas Guardia Gutierrez, who was involved in the development of the railroad used to form transport links between the central region and the Caribbean coast for export of coffee.
The next step was the city's theatre which took seven years to complete due to materials of the highest quality being imported from Italy, France and Austria to form grand marble pillars and fine wood furniture. The design can only be described as opulent.
We had a lovely last meal together at our final hotel in San Jose, and headed off to bed to prepare for a 3 am start.