LEAF International Expedition Costa Rica
Get Off The Beaten Path with Fellow LEAFers
Meet Indigenous Culture Keepers
Make Cross-Cultural Connections
Immerse yourself in the cultures, preservation methods, and musical traditions of the First Nations of Costa Rica! LEAF International Culture Keepers and youth feel that it’s important for LEAFers to visit the sites where programs are thriving, but most importantly, where indigenous cultures are illuminated through the art of their heritage.
Why Choose This Program:
LEAF International supports 3 programs in Costa Rica: 1) Bribri First Nation near the Caribbean and southern side of the country in Amubri, 2) Ngabe First Nation in La Casona, and 3) Cabecar First Nation in Ujarras & Chirripo
Meet and build meaningful connections with the First Nations of Costa Rica
Empower local culture keepers to preserve their sacred traditions, customs, land and language in their community
Explore the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica, from waterfalls to beaches
Contribute to raising global awareness of indigenous communities and witness the importance of cultural preservation
9 days (with option to extend for personal travels)
Sunday March 1 – Monday March 9, 2020
Min 10 | Max 15 people
How You’ll Travel
This expedition is LAND ONLY, meaning each person arranges their own flights to and from the trip to join the group. Once together, private bus transportation and driver for long drives between San Jose and San Vito and Ujarras will be provided.
Number/Type of Staff
Supporting you on your journey will be a LEAF staff member, LEAF Culture Keepers and LEAF International partners. These trips are family-friendly, so bring your kids & their friends! Give them an opportunity to see the world as global citizens.
Day One: Explore Vibrant San Jose
On arrival in San Jose, we’ll make our way to our chosen hotel to recharge after our flight and get settled in. Depending on time of arrival, you may opt to spend the afternoon exploring some of Costa Rica’s gems, such as the Gold Museum which houses the largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold in the Americas, a lot of which dates back to 500 AD. You can even catch a glimpse of Costa Rica’s first coin! Alternatively, wander the vibrant streets at your own pace, and explore to your heart’s content before we reconvene in the evening with the rest of the LEAF Ambassador team for a welcome dinner! Meet & Greet, and Costa Rica Orientation with Luis Porras, LEAF International Costa Rica partner & founder of Proyecto Jirondai.
Day Two: Travel to San Vito
Morning breakfast & intention setting.
Travel South to San Vito (roughly 5 hours) to meet Ngäbe-Buglé Culture Keeper, Alexis Rodriguez. Guided tour of San Vito with Alexis. En Route, see the famous crocodiles on the Rio Tarcoles. Dinner and Ngäbe-Buglé Culture presentation with Alexis & Luis Porras Mora.
Day Three: Meet with the Ngabe Tribes
Meet with Alexis once again this morning to travel to four schools – San Miguel, San Fran, Majesa, & La Lucha – where he teaches and honors the Ngabe traditions. Meet Alexis’s students and witness demonstrations of what their learning to preserve their culture and traditions. Visit local coffee farms & local shops in town. Dinner this evening is accompanied by a language presentation by Alexis Rodriguez. This is not only a fantastic opportunity to witness an entirely different way of life, but also to cultivate and encourage global citizenship.
Day Four: La Casona and on to Ujarras
Arise this morning for a trip to La Casona, the place of origin of the LEAF program! Located inside the impressive Santa Rosa National Park, which is renowned for its dry tropical forest, this is a fantastic opportunity to discover a traditional region remote from the pristine beaches Costa Rica is often known for. Next we’ll head to the rural village of Ujarras. Surrounded by the lush tropical foliage of the Orosi Valley in the province of Cartago, Ujarras is both a site of historical importance and in close proximity to many of Costa Rica’s natural gems. Here we will meet Cabecar Culture Keeper & Shaman Luis Salazar who dedicates his life to preserving the Cabecar culture. Luis’s home base in the Chirripo River valley is a distant region, accessible only from the nearest road by a 22 mile hike, Luis teaches approximately 55 students traditional song & dance, and healing medicine. At the more accessible Ujarras, enjoy an evening dinner and shaman presentation with this devoted culture keeper and discover the beauty and pride behind the Cabecar way of life.
Day Five: Traditional Ceremonies & Medicine at Namasku
This morning offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the untouched and often wild nature in this remote region of Costa Rica. After breakfast we will set off on a morning hike with Luis Salazar, ultimately making our way to Namasku, to visit the spiritual medicinal school that he built. You won’t regret the hike to reach this isolated region! Take the opportunity to participate in traditional Cabecar ceremonies. There is no better way to explore and understand the complexities of this persevering tribe than to take part in the rituals which form a large part of daily life. A rewarding evening will be spent helping the community rebuild structures, such as the traditional conical house (The conical house is a symbolic representation of the universe in many indigenous First Nations.), providing a fantastic opportunity to speak to the locals and gain a greater insight into their traditional way of life. Today promises to be a rewarding and informative trip!
Day Six: Meditation and Coastal Retreat in Paradise
Morning meditation ceremony with Luis S. In the afternoon, we travel to the Pacific Coast! Prepare yourself for an exotic paradise as we explore the tropical beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. With deep blue seas, long sandy beaches and lush, green foliage, this region is a playground for wildlife and hiking enthusiasts. Choose to adventure in the surrounding nature or lounge on a deserted beach and unwind from modern life’s stresses. We’ll conclude the day with a group dinner to share highlights, thoughts, and gratitude.
Day Seven: Manuel Antonio National Park
Embrace a day of fun in the sun. Relax on the beach, visit the national park, tour the biological forest reserve, or seek out your own fun adventure as this region is a treasure for biodiversity.
Day Eight: Return to San Jose for Final Full Day
Morning travel to San Jose. Evening exploration on your own. Final group dinner at Sikwa Restaurant (This restaurant specializes in ancestral-inspired dishes.) Storytime – Highlights, thoughts, & gratitude.
Day Nine: Final Day
Unfortunately, this morning marks the end of our trip. Enjoy a final breakfast before departing for the airport, depending the time of your flight. We hope you have enjoyed this cultural immersion in the ancient and persevering first nations of Costa Rica. Our LEAF trip is designed to inform and promote the importance of celebrating and protecting the indigenous communities of Costa Rica which are so often overlooked, and exploited, in this modern age. We hope you will return home with incredible memories of this remote and exotic region and with new friendships made!
Frequently Asked Questions
LEAF agrees to provide each of the following goods and services for the duration of the tour to each participant traveling with LEAF International:
- Private bus transportation and driver for long drives between San Jose and San Vito and Ujarras
- Accommodations in shared facilities or homestays on site (8 nights total) – San Jose, San Vito, and Ujarras
- Custom designed itinerary
- Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
- Demonstrations and from LEAF International teaching artists and students
- Site visits to LEAF International programs
- Volunteer and service opportunities at LEAF International sites
- Opportunities for free time on the beach (Dominical) and city exploration (San Jose)
- Full time local interpreter and cultural guide (Member of Proyecto Jirondai)
- Breakfast and Dinner each day (lunches are on own)
- Complete tour participant accounting including option to pay by credit card
What's Not Included?
- Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
- Customs and immigration fees at airports or border crossings
- Airport transfer to first night hotel (we will try to collect flight information from each traveler in an effort to help you share taxis with similar arrival times
- Various meals or drinks listed as “on own” in the itinerary when the group is dispersed for self-exploration
- Additional nights lodging or any additional days if one chooses to remain in country longer
What Should I Bring?
Refillable water bottle, good walking shoes. You must have a valid U.S. passport (not expiring in the next 6 months)
A Pre-trip meeting will be scheduled to get to know your other travelers, and all travel logistics such as packing and preparation will be covered more thoroughly then.
Good to Know Before You Go
• A full time local interpreter and cultural guide will accompany this trip.
• Remember to bring some cash/credit cards for lunches and additional food/drinks.
• Dietary requirements can be catered for – just let us know when booking.
• This itinerary is entirely flexible and customizable. Simply get in touch with a member of our staff to craft your ideal trip.
Watch Highlights from previous LEAF International Expeditions to Costa Rica