Volcano and Rainforest Service Base

Exciting service and thrilling adventure at our fantastic Base in the heart of Costa Rica!

Exciting service and thrilling adventure at our fantastic Base in the heart of Costa Rica!

Weekday Service

Almost every day you will head off into the surrounding communities for a full day of meaningful service. There are four core projects that run out of The Base and each will give you a different perspective on life in Costa Rica.

1. Community Improvement Projects
2. English Education Initiative
3. Cultural Exchange
4. Green Initiatives

You will continue to work with the same small service group every day, and each group will participate in two or more of the projects. Whether helping out with an eco-service initiative or teaching English in a local school, you will make an impact on the community, have a chance to practice your Spanish, and make tons of new Tico friends.


You’ll work hard on service projects, but will also have the opportunity to enjoy Costa Rica’s abundance of adventure activities. These activities might include horseback riding through the beautiful landscapes of Costa Rica and might include optional activities like zip lining through the jungle canopy, or whitewater rafting on class III-IV rapids. You will also have a chance to explore the town of La Fortuna for shopping, a trip to a gorgeous waterfall, a game of pick-up soccer, or a trip to the natural hot springs. The Base will also host a popular Karaoke Dance Party to wrap up the week.

Who Should Come?

The Volcanoes and Service Base House is perfect for those students looking for a diverse selection of service projects with a perfect mix of adventure. The accommodations on this program are comfortable and surrounded by the plush, green rainforest. Whether this is your first time on an international service program or you’re a veteran traveler, the Volcanoes Service Base House has something to offer you!


Day 1 (Saturday)

Depart the United States for San Jose, Costa Rica. Upon arrival at the San Jose airport you will be greeted by your Rustic Pathways Staff. From here you will head over to the hotel near the airport where you will meet other students from your program and enjoy your first night in beautiful Costa Rica!

Day 2 (Sunday)

Wake up early for breakfast before departing with your group to la Fortuna, one of Costa Rica’s most visited towns. After a beautiful 3 hour drive, you will arrive at the Volcano and Rainforest Service Base in time for a fresh Tico lunch. There will be time to settle into rooms and get to know the base before breaking into groups to work on one of the many community service projects in the area. In the evening get together with your new friends and enjoy card games, good music and new stories.

Day 3 - Day 5 (Monday - Wednesday)

Get ready for full days of service work. In the morning after breakfast, leave the base to work on one of the exciting and rewarding projects in the surrounding communities. Work will be divided in to

three focus projects:

1. Community Improvement Projects
2. Intercultural Exchange Projects
3. Green Initiative Projects

After a productive morning, return to the base house for a fantastic lunch, take a siesta, or jump in the pool for a quick swim before leaving again to work on a different afternoon service project.

On Monday night you’ll spend some time either learning how to Salsa dance, playing cards, or roasting marshmallows over a bonfire.

On Tuesday night, we’ll have a special visit from the indigenous Maleku people to learn about their culture and view their handicrafts.
And, on Wednesday night wrap up the day with a trip to a local restaurant and then the naturally heated hot spring pools where the warm water will soothe your muscles from several days of hard work.

Day 6 (Thursday)

Wake up for an early breakfast, and then you’ll have a chance to zip line through the rain forest or visit an amazing Eco-Zoo (both optional activities). Eat lunch at a local restaurant and then teach English classes at primary schools. English classes are subject to school vacations, closing, and holidays. When school is not in session, you’ll help run a vacation day camp for area schools and/or help create classroom materials to donate to local schools. In the evening, enjoy a trip into La Fortuna to do some souvenir shopping.

Day 7 (Friday)

After breakfast, get ready for an intense day of adventure! You can choose to do the optional White Water Rafting tour on the famous Sarapiqui River (class III & IV). Those who do not wish to join the tour can spend the day relaxing at the base house or shopping in Fortuna.

After a full day of adventure, return to the base house and get ready for our Latin Karaoke Dance Party which is always one of the highlights of the week.

Day 8 (Saturday)

After breakfast, enjoy your last morning together as a group before departing for San Jose for your flight back to the USA. Along the way, reflect on the incredible experience you have had this week, the new friends you’ve made, and all that you have learned about Costa Rica!

An Important Note about Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

Packing List

In addition to the general Costa Rica Packing List all students should review the following information specific to this program:

all students should review the following information specific to the Volcano & Rainforest Service Base program:

  • A raincoat is MANDATORY-you’ll be living in the rainforest!
  • Be sure to bring clothes that can get dirty and wet while doing service work.
  • A pair of Tevas, Chacos, or other strap on sandals or water shoes are useful if you plan on doing some of the optional activities such as whitewater rafting, hiking, ziplining, etc. Flip flops are not allowed white water rafting!
  • The Volcano & Rainforest program works in rural communities, where standards of dress are more conservative. Short shorts, strappy tank tops, or working shirtless are not acceptable for community service. Please make sure that the clothes you pack reflect these cultural standards. You must wear Closed-Toe Shoes for all community service projects.

Important Notes About Your Luggage

  1. Please try your best to pack light and fit everything into one MEDIUM size duffle bag or a backpack. We strongly recommend that you DO NOT use wheeled bags.
  2. Do not forget to bring a small backpack that you can use to fit your daily gear; a school backpack would make a great carry-on.
  3. Make sure everything you pack in your carry-on complies with the new carry-on regulations of the TSA http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the flight to this country?

Direct flight from Newark to San Jose takes approximately 5.5 hours.
Direct flight from Houston to San Jose takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

Will there be a flight leader to this country?

Yes. All flights between Costa Rica and the USA will have a flight leader starting in both Newark and Houston. Return flights to the USA will also have a flight leader as far as Newark and Houston. Flights between Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and the Dominican Republic are NOT escorted by a Rustic Pathways staff member.

Do we need to get visas for this program?

Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 90 day tourist visa upon entry into Costa Rica.

What Costa Rican province(s) does this program pass through?

During the Volcano & Rainforest program, students will remain in the Alajuela province near the town of La Fortuna. They will stay in either the San Jose or Alajuela province for a very short period of time when they first arrive in country and the night before they depart Costa Rica.

What immunizations do we need to get for this trip?

Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. We strongly suggest that you consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for medical recommendations based on the area where the student will be traveling (as listed above). You can also check the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov for more information. Yellow fever vaccinations may be required to enter Costa Rica if you have traveled to some international destinations including Peru prior to your trip to Costa Rica. Please check the Center for Disease control website for more information.

How does this program connect to other programs?

On Tuesday afternoon students will depart from the Volcano base. They will stay that night in Alajuela in a base hotel. Wednesday morning students will meet with their new group and guides at the same hotel where they stayed and go off on their new program.

How long is the drive from San Jose to this program?

The drive from San Jose to the Volcano base is approximately 3 hours depending on weather and other driving conditions.

What is the climate in the region where this program takes place?

The Volcano and Rainforest program takes place in the rainforest area, a very green, humid, and wet area of the country. Students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80s and 90s during the day, and a daily rain shower. The rainy season does not slow us down, so bring a good raincoat and be prepared to work hard!

Is this a good program for students interested in practicing their Spanish?

The Volcano Program does not include formal Spanish language instruction; however students will have multiple opportunities to practice Spanish with the local students and other locals involve in the community service projects.

What service projects will I work on and how are the projects identified?

Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and schools to identify and prioritize the needs of each community. Students will work on small scale construction projects that will help improve community and school infrastructure. Rustic Pathways may also pair with environmental organizations in the area to determine the conservation projects of the summer. Students will also facilitate educational and cultural projects with local children and youth. During the first two weeks of July, Costa Rican school children are on vacation, so students should expect to work with students in more informal environments or focus more on the other types of service projects.

How physically strenuous is this program?

The Volcano and Rainforest program service projects are appropriate for most physical activity levels. Students should be prepared for moderate physical activity including lifting heavy material, shoveling, digging, mixing cement, wood work, and other manual labor during the construction projects. Everyone is expected to come ready to work, and donate their valued manual labor towards the completion of the summer projects.

What costs are not included on this trip?

The majority of costs associated with the program are included on this trip. However, the weekend optional adventure activities are not included and students should bring extra money if they would like to participate. Additional allowance money is suggested should students wish to: buy souvenirs, artwork and handicrafts from local artisans or additional snacks or sodas from the local grocery stores, use internet or purchase a phone card.

What are the optional activities available at an additional cost on this program?

Optional activities are:

Rafting Class III and Class IV $100, ziplining $70, Horseback riding $50

What kind of food will we be eating? Where?

Students will be eating a good variety of food during the buffet style meals served at the Volcano base. Breakfast usually includes fresh fruits, cereal, milk and juice. Lunch and dinner will vary and in the past has included chicken, steak and fish dishes, rice, black beans, potatoes, plantains, salads, and pasta. Our Volcano base chef does his best to incorporate both traditional Costa Rican dishes as well as more familiar flavors.

Can we cater to specific diets?

Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be access to vegetarian choices in the buffets. Vegan diets can be accommodated. Please know that while we are happy to accommodate alternative diets, many of the special diets common in the United States are not common in other parts of the world and travelers must be patient and understanding in having these needs be met. Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

Will the kids be drinking bottled water?

Costa Rica water is generally potable, and the water in the Fortuna area is safe to drink. Students are encouraged to fill up their water bottles straight from the tap. They can also purchase bottles of water in the local grocery stores.

What will the accommodations on this trip be like?

Students will be staying in two fully equipped base houses located 15 minutes away from the town of Fortuna. This program offers one of the most comfortable accommodations among the Costa Rican Programs with all commodities that compensate the hard work they do during the day including a fresh water outdoor pool, soccer field and a volley-ball net with many other amenities that make this trip an amazing one. Between 5– 8 students will share a big room with bunk beds and a private bathroom (number of students per room depends on number of girls and boys).

What are the bathroom facilities?

Every room has a private bathroom with running water and American style toilets and showers. Hot water is available.

How many girls and boys are usually on this trip?

We expect a good mix between genders, however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

What is the ratio of guides to students?

Rustic Pathways generally strives to maintain a ratio of approximately 1 guide for every 6 students. There will be 6 guides on this program. Our guides go through a rigorous selection process including interviews with our program managers and a full background check.

Is your staff qualified in First Aid?

Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have guides that are certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

How often (if at all) will students be able to do laundry on this program and what will it cost?

Students should pack reasonably for this program. Laundry is available once a week and the cost is $6 per kilo.

How often will they have access to phone and internet?

Students will have access to internet during their visit to the town of La Fortuna once a week. Phones are not available at the base house but they will be able to call home during their visit to town. They will be able to purchase international phone cards in Costa Rica from the guides or at local convenience stores which can be used to call home from the public phones in La Fortuna.

Contact Us: For more information about Volcano and Rainforest Service Base, email keyclub@rusticpathways.com.


  • Live in our comfortable base house surrounded by rainforest and swim in the sparkling pool, join a game of soccer, or hang out by the tranquil ponds.
  • Work on rewarding, small-scale construction projects alongside people who truly need and appreciate your efforts.
  • Play with local school children as you teach English through recreation and supplement their day with an intercultural exchange (subject to school vacations and closings).
  • Relax in natural hot springs, and on clear nights, possibly watch as bright lava flows down the side of an active volcano.
  • Zip line over the rainforest canopy, horseback ride and go whitewater rafting (all optional activities).
  • Make lifelong friends and share rewarding experiences while you live, laugh and work at The Volcano and Rainforest Base.

Program Details

Ages: 13 to 18 years old

Length: 8 days from the USA

Hours: Up to 25 hours awarded

Cost: $1,495

Eligibility: You must be a Key Club member to attend this program

Students are responsible for arranging their own airfare. After being accepted to the program, Rustic Pathways will contact you with arrival and departure flight windows so that you may book your flight.

Notice: Delayed until 2015. Please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you're interested in other opportunities.


Departs Availability

Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States.

Apply for March 15

Apply for April 12