Costa Rica Explorations has begun to offer two unique student travel programs based on the desires of our travel partners.
- 5th Grade Spanish Dual Language Travel Programs
- Science-Based Student Travel Programs (Focus: The Power of Water)
5th Grade Spanish Dual Language Travel Programs
Over the past few years, we have received interest from graduating 5th-grade Spanish dual language immersion programs to participate in our Costa Rica Explorations program itineraries. We have had great success hosting our 5th-grade dual language students! These students are well-prepared with their Spanish language skills and are pleased to learn that all the energy they put into learning Spanish in elementary school was well worth it as communication with their host families comes with ease, and they tend to make faster and stronger bonds with their host families and peers within the host communities.
One of the requirements for hosting 5th-grade dual language students is that they are accompanied by a select parent group, and, of course, chaperoning teachers are welcome as well! Every 5th grader does not need his/her own parent to travel in order for him/her to attend the program, but a select group of parent chaperones is required to take responsibility for each of the students and accompany the group. We have found that it is a challenge for students of this age group to fully appreciate an international travel experience away from the support of parents. The tendency is for the students to become homesick, which prevents them from fully engaging in the program itinerary.
Our 5th-grade students have had very successful experiences, however, if a select group of parents is their traveling companions. Depending on the desires of the group, students will pair up and live independently within homestays and the chaperoning parents will pair up as well and live in neighboring homestay houses. This allows the fifth graders to have their independence knowing a parent is right next door if needed. Our two, professional, bilingual guides will stay within the same homestay community as well and are on call 24 hours a day. This provides an additional safety net for this age group.
Costa Rica Explorations’ three program components, homestays, community service, travel, and reflection, are still the heart of this program itinerary. The adventure components, educational tours, service project work, and reflection meetings are catered to this age group. Our itineraries allow for a sufficient amount of sleep each night, our service project work time is broken into shorter time periods, students are given a good break within each day to reenergize, and our evening activities end earlier so students can get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
A unique component of our 5th-grade Spanish dual immersion itinerary is that students are able to attend classes at a local elementary school. Costa Rica’s primary school is from kindergarten to 6th grade. We partner with the local elementary school in the area and place students within the classroom, so they can experience what it is like to study in a small, rural, public elementary school. Many times, they will walk to school with their host brother and sister and may even be in their class!
Through our reflection meetings, students compare and contrast educational systems gaining a new perspective of the world at such a young age. The traveling students will also utilize their English-speaking skills and help out in English classes during the school day. Our program managers enjoy working closely with host teachers and parents to pre-plan activities and mini-lessons that the students can bring to share with their local Costa Rican peers.
5th Grade Spanish Dual Language Program Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival and Orientation
Your group arrives at the San José International airport to be greeted by two professional, bilingual guides and a private vehicle. They will take you to your hotel which is located about 30 minutes from the airport where you will have an Orientation Meeting filled with introduction activities, a review of the rules and safety expectations, and the program itinerary. This meeting will be followed by dinner and a night at the hotel.
Day 2 – Tour of La Paz Waterfall Gardens and transfer to Arenal
This morning fill your bellies with a delicious breakfast of “gallo pinto”, eggs, and tropical fruit. You will pack up and head out on your tour of the famous La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Here you will hike to visit 3 spectacular waterfalls, you will also tour the various exhibits of this rescued wildlife preserve such as the aviary dome, hummingbird and butterfly garden, serpentarium, and monkey and wildcat exhibits. This is one of the only places in the country where you can spot a real jaguar.
You will have a delicious buffet lunch and then will head off to your hotel in La Fortuna, home of the famous Arenal Volcano. This afternoon will be filled with fun team-building activities and dinner at a local “soda” or restaurant in town followed by a chance to go souvenir shopping!
Day 3 – COMBO Tour: Zipline/Hanging Bridges Tour & Geothermal Hot Springs
Today is packed with activities, so make sure to eat a hearty breakfast at the hotel. Your private transportation will take you to a Combo Tour featuring hanging bridges and zip-lining. You’ll get a chance to view tropical organisms from the canopy as you walk through the hanging bridges and will be sure to get a thrill as you zip through the trees. Lunch will be enjoyed on the tour.
This afternoon, you will soak in geothermal hot springs that are heated by the Arenal Volcano itself. The pools are varying temperatures. Be sure to find one that is just right for you! Dinner will be onsite. This evening you will be sure to sleep well upon arrival back to your hotel.
Day 4 – Transfer to Homestay Community & Welcome Dinner
Today your group will have a more relaxed morning. After yet another delicious tropical breakfast, the group will meet to prepare for the Homestay Experience. Students, teachers and guides will run through a variety of different scenarios that could happen within the homestays in order to prepare the students for this fulfilling cultural experience!
Our guides and the group’s chaperones will stay in the same homestay community with the students and will be available to the students 24 hours a day. Students are paired up in each homestay. Please review our thorough Homestay Selection Process for more information. The group will transfer from Arenal to the town of Turrialba where they will be greeted by their homestay families. Lunch will be enjoyed en route. Tonight, the homestay families will host a Welcome Dinner for the entire group in order to say “Bienvenida”.
Days 5 & 6 – Day in Local School, English Instruction & Soccer Game & Dance Lessons
During the next two days, visiting students have the chance to attend classes with their local Costa Rican peers. The hope is for the visiting students will have prepared a presentation about their culture, town, and school to share with the school community. Visiting students will be paired up within different grade levels and will participate in daily lessons. The visiting students will also give back to the community by helping the English teacher within his/her class. It is so rewarding to practice a second language with native speakers!
During recess, the students can exchange different games they play. One afternoon, the students and homestay community will play a friendly game of soccer, the other evening, students will learn the basic steps to the rhythms of salsa, merengue, and cumbia. These days the 5th-grade dual language immersion students will truly feel what it is like to be a Tico! Dinner and evenings will be spent at their homestays.
Day 7 – Local Farm Tour & Cooking Classes
After breakfast at their homestay today, the group will learn about coffee and sugarcane production. They will help harvest bananas and other tropical crops on the farm. They will participate in a reforestation project, take a dip in a local swimming hole, and will learn how to make homemade tortillas from scratch. Life as a “campesino” (local farmer) is hard work, but very rewarding.
Dinner and the evening will be shared with their homestays. We encourage students to bring cards and board games from home to teach their Costa Rican family members. It is a fun way to pass the evening and a great way to practice your Spanish-language skills.
Day 8 – Service Project Day & Manualidades
Today, adult chaperones, students, and guides will work together with community members on a pre-selected service project at the local elementary school. The group will split into subgroups to accomplish all the service project goals. The school director, board of trustees, and our Costa Rica Exploration Service Project Committee collaborate to accomplish the most urgent and attainable projects for the school.
Over the years, we have chipped away at the list and have seen much improvement in the school facility. Working together to achieve a common goal is rewarding for everyone involved. Read more about our Service Project Partners to learn more about past and future projects. This evening the students will learn how to make jewelry and keychains from beautiful seeds before retiring to their homestays to enjoy dinner and an evening with their Tico families.
Day 9 – Guayabo National Monument, Acquires Waterfall & Farewell Dinner
Today the group will travel to Guayabo National Monument to tour the largest indigenous ruins in the country. The pathways weave the students through the lush secondary rainforests, home to a variety of medicinal plants, sloths, morpho butterflies, and more. The site itself was a spiritual and commercial center for the surrounding indigenous communities.
Your group will be able to view remaining tombs, petroglyphs, and an award-winning and still-functioning aqueduct. No one knows for sure why the indigenous evacuated this incredible site as it happened before the Spanish conquered the area.
This evening, the host families yet again will host your group for a Celebratory Farewell Dinner. On the last evening of the program, students and adult chaperones will be thanked for their collaboration with the service project and for sharing the culture. The evening will be filled with dancing, thank you speeches, and tasty Costa Rican cuisine.
Day 10 – Departure Day
Your group will pack up and, accompanied by your professional guides, will travel back to the San José International Airport for your flight back home. This ride will be a reflective one as each member recalls all of the new experiences and friendships made.
Program Tuition for This 10-day 5th Grade Spanish Dual Language Program
The program tuition is $2,700 per student for a minimum of 8 participants. The Group’s maximum number of participants is 16 students with 2 chaperones. With 8 fully-paying participants, one chaperone’s program tuition will be covered by Costa Rica Explorations. Depending on the decisions of the select parent group, the price may differ for traveling students and adults.
We are able to adapt this program itinerary to meet the unique needs of your travel group. Let our program managers know your ideas as we work together with you to design your ideal trip.
Options to Extend/Shorten Program:
8-Day 5th Grade Dual Spanish Language Program Itinerary
- The program will be hosted in the single-destination town of Turrialba
- 1 additional night in homestay
- 2 fewer nights in hotels
- Does not include: La Paz Waterfall Tour, Combo Tour, Geothermal Hot Springs, or stay in Arenal / La Fortuna
- Program tuition is $2,155 / for a minimum of 8 participants
13-day 5th Grade Dual Spanish Language Program Itinerary
- 3 additional nights at hotels (2 nights at the beach, 1 night in a hotel by airport)
- 2 Days in Caribbean Coast Beach Town
- 2 additional activities: Hiking Tour of National Park & Surf Lessons
- Program tuition is $3,480 / for a minimum of 8 participants
Environmental / Science-Based Student Travel Programs
Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity and its variety of ecosystems. It is an ideal destination for Science-Based Educational Programming. Costa Rica Explorations’ home community of Turrialba is no exception.
Turrialba is home to the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), which is an “international institute for agricultural development and biological conservation in Central America and the Caribbean, combining science, education, and innovation.” Turrialba also is known throughout the country as being the “whitewater rafting capital”. It is teeming with wondrous rivers and waterfalls.
The local Turrialba communities pride themselves on their well-protected and maintained, clean, and pure drinking water supplies that come fresh from natural springs within this mountain town. Integrating all of these marvelous gems, Costa Rica Explorations is proud to present its unique Science-based Educational Program called – The POWER OF WATER!
This tour is priced with the student group staying in local hotels instead of integrated within homestay communities. Please inquire if your group would like to participate in our community homestay experience, as we highly recommend it and can customize your tour accordingly.
8-Day – Power of Water Itinerary includes the following experiences:
- Private Water Workshop hosted by investigators of CATIE – Overview of Costa Rica’s watershed and water management strategies
- Interactive Learning Activity with local middle or high school peers
- Tour of Angostura Hydroelectric Dam and Power Station
- Visit to and Conservation work with a local rural water association (ASADA)
- Tour of Indigenous Reserve with a focus on the award-winning aqueduct
- Visit to Aquiares Waterfall
- Swift-Water Rescue Lessons on Pejibaye River
- COMBO Tour – Whitewater Rafting Class II & III section of Pacuare River & Canopy/Zipline Tour – Discuss steps taken to preserve Pacuare River from being Dammed
The 11-day Power of Water Itinerary includes these additional activities:
- Snorkel & Hiking Tour of Coastal National Park – study effects of “ecotourism” on coral reef
- Visit and discuss with the local water association in Cahuita
- Surf Lessons
- 3 additional nights in hotels
The Power of Water Program Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival and Orientation
Students and host teachers will arrive at the San José International Airport where two bilingual professional guides and a private vehicle will greet you. You’ll load up your luggage and head east towards the host town of Turrialba.
En route, your group will stop for lunch in a local “soda” or restaurant, and then you will visit the famous Basilica “Nuestra Señora de los Angeles” in the town of Cartago. Here, the students will witness Catholic Costa Ricans, which make up around 85% of the population, praying to their patron saint – La Negrita. They believe there is a natural spring of blessed holy water that runs by the Basilica where citizens stop to fill bottles to bring back to bless their homes and their family members. Witnessing this activity will begin the wonderful discussion of the importance of water in the spiritual realm of life.
This evening, the students will have an Introductory Meeting and will partake in introduction games, so the student group, host teachers, and program instructors can start to get to know one another. The group will settle into their hotel and will enjoy a delicious dinner on site this evening.
Day 2 – Water Workshop at CATIE Campus
In the morning your group will enjoy breakfast at the hotel and will set off for a private Water Workshop led by expert investigators that work within the institution CATIE’s (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza/Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Learning) Campus. The group will learn about the local watershed, the importance of water and biodiversity, and the governance and economics of water in Costa Rica.
The group will then take a tour of CATIE’s Botanical Gardens and Wetland area. Students will enjoy lunch with Costa Rican peers at a private high school housed within CATIE’s Campus and will participate in interactive educational games with their peers in order to deepen their understanding of the topic. This evening, students will return to the hotel for a debrief and to enjoy a delicious dinner.
Day 3 – La Marta Reserve Wildlife Refuge & Tour of Hydroelectric Dam
Today, the student group has the opportunity to tour two incredible places in the Turrialba area. In the morning, the group will head off to the La Marta Wildlife Refuge, which is a Natural Heritage site of Humanity because of its abundant biodiversity. Students will hike La Marta’s challenging trails through the primary rainforest and across important streams and rivers, which give this site the life it needs to survive. Your naturalist guide will point out a variety of different flora and fauna unique to this area.
After a picnic lunch, the group will head to the Angostura Hydroelectric Power Station that was constructed on the Reventazon River to understand the magnitude of energy this structure generates for the country. The tour of the hydroelectric dam will lead to an interesting discussion about the pros and cons of offsetting a country’s carbon dioxide emissions in order to become a Carbon Neutral Nation. Dinner and evening will be enjoyed at the hotel as students settle in for another good night of sleep.
Day 4 – Visit and Conservation work at Local Water Association
After breakfast at the hotel, your group will have the opportunity to meet with a local water association called an ASADA. This association is in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of their community’s drinking water.
You will take a hiking tour through the rainforest to visit the natural spring the source of the community’s drinking water. The group will learn how it is monitored, cleaned, and distributed to its members. Do you ever wonder how water companies monitor healthy drinking water supplies? We’ll learn from the experts firsthand. We’ll also learn the challenges that the ASADA faces in the distribution of healthy drinking water. There is always maintenance to do at the ASADA. Today, your group will join forces with the local ASADA committee to give them a helping hand.
This afternoon, the local community will thank your group by hosting you in a variety of cultural activities. Students will learn a few traditional Costa Rican recipes as they prepare homemade tortillas and empanadas for a delicious “cafecito”. Later, the students will groove to the Latin rhythms of salsa, merengue, and cumbia.
Day 5 – Visit Guayabo National Monument & Aquiares Waterfall
Your study of the importance of water continues today with a visit to the country’s largest indigenous site – Guayabo National Monument. Located about 45 minutes from your hotel, the students will discover that the indigenous created an incredible aqueduct system to provide the ancient community with clean drinking water. Amazingly enough, the aqueduct is still functioning today.
This ancient civilization is thought to have begun around 1000 BC and was abandoned by its inhabitants around 1400 AD for an unknown reason. Archaeologists have discovered that it was a thriving political, religious and cultural center during its time. The group will enjoy a picnic lunch and then will head off to a hidden waterfall within one of the largest coffee plantations in the country – Aquiares.
The group continues its conversation about the power of water and the importance of its conservation during this evening’s group meeting. Dinner and evening are enjoyed at the hotel.
Day 6 – Swiftwater Rescue Lessons on Rio Pejibaye
After breakfast, students will gear up for a crash course in Swiftwater Rescue. The town of Turrialba is said to be the White-Water Capital of Costa Rica. Today students will learn extremely important swift water skills from their professional instructors such as: swift water hydrology, river dynamics, using rope throw bags and constructing rope and mechanical advantage systems, conducting shore-based rescue operations, and recovering watercraft and boat-assisted rescues.
Students will walk away with an increased knowledge of how swift water works, how to manage swift water, and the importance of safety preparation and teamwork. They will also appreciate the power and mechanics of river systems. This knowledge base will help students tomorrow during their exciting day of white-water rafting the Rio Pacuare. Students will have the opportunity to relax at the hotel this evening and will learn how to make rain sticks out of bamboo shoots.
Day 7 – Rafting Rio Pacuare
This day is a culmination of the group learning about the Power of Water as well as a day to celebrate and enjoy its beauty. Students, teachers, and guides will work together as a team as they enjoy an exhilarating raft down the magnificent Pacuare River.
The Pacuare River was named one of the Top 10 Rivers to Raft in the world by National Geographic for both its challenging rapids as well as the incredible tropical rainforest scenery and wildlife. The Pacuare River runs through an Indigenous Reserve within the Talamanca Mountain Range. The Costa Rican government’s electric company (ICE) is looking to dam the Pacuare River in the future; however, the Costa Rican citizens protested the proposed hydroelectric dam and the river will be protected until 2030. But what will happen then?
This rafting experience provides a wonderful connection to the final program reflection discussion this evening. What is the most significant insight you will take away from this program surrounding the topic of water? How can you take an active role in the conservation of water in the future? Students will share their thoughts as they celebrate their last evening in Turrialba, Costa Rica!
Day 8 – Departure Day
After breakfast students pack up and head to the San Jose Airport (SJO) for their flight back home.
Program Tuition for This 8-day Power of Water Program Itinerary
Program tuition is $1,975 per student for a minimum of 8 participants. A maximum of 16 students with 2 chaperones. With 8 fully-paying participants, one chaperone’s program tuition will be covered by Costa Rica Explorations.
We can customize this program itinerary in order to fulfill the needs and desires of your group.
Options to Extend Program:
11-day Power of Water Program Itinerary
- 3 additional nights at hotels (2 nights at the beach, 1 night in a hotel by airport)
- 2 additional days in Caribbean Coast Beach Town
- 2 additional activities: Snorkel/Hiking Tour of National Park & Surf Lessons
- Program tuition is $2,825 / for a minimum of 8 participants