• Launch Full Gallery

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path program that combines service, adventure, and lots of nature, this is the program for you! Heart of the Jungle takes you south to the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica where you will surf, hike, rappel, and swim in natural pools. Embark on a three-day kayak expedition through Golfo Dulce. You’ll spot tons of animals while trekking through Corcovado National Park. When not off on adventures, you’ll give back to the communities you stay in helping out on construction projects to improve low-income family homes.

With our No-Stress Travel Policy, you cancel for any reason up until the day of travel, and escrow 100% of the program fees for up to two years from the cancellation date.

Read More

2018 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 5 June 20 Available
June 12 June 27 Limited
June 19 July 4 Limited
June 26 July 11 Available
July 3 July 18 Available
July 10 July 25 Available
July 17 August 1 Available
July 24 August 8 Available
July 31 August 15 Available

Program Profile

Country
Costa Rica
Community Service Component
Introductory
Community Service Focus
Environment, Infrastructure
Get to Know
Nature, Adventure, The People
Lifestyle
Trek and Camp, Relax at Hotels
Travel Component
On the Go!

  • Day 1

    Depart United States for San Jose, Costa Rica

    Depart the U.S. en route to San José, Costa Rica. Upon your arrival, Rustic Pathways Staff will greet you at the airport.

    Enjoy your first glimpses of this spectacular country. From its rainforests to its volcanic peaks to its two coasts, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful nations in Central America. Home to some of the most biodiverse swaths of land and sea on the planet, Costa Rica is famed for its natural environment – and it’s commitment to that environment! Costa Ricans – or Ticos, as they’re called here – are intensely proud and protective of their lands, and have put their country on the map as the world leader in eco-tourism and environmental protection.

    In addition to its stunning flora and fauna, Costa Rica is also world-renowned for its adventure activities, many of which you’ll be sampling in the days to come!

    Head to the hostel rented out by Rustic Pathways. Spend the first night meeting new friends and mingling about with students preparing for our many enriching programs. Good luck and enjoy your stay in beautiful Costa Rica!

  • Day 2

    Heading South to Dominical

    After a light breakfast, head south a few hours to the town of Dominical. On your way, stop in the beach town of Jacó for lunch, then arrive into Dominical in time to grab a board and spend the afternoon surfing the waves. Check into the hotel and spend the evening playing team-building games and getting to know your group.

  • Day 3

    Service in Uvita

    Wake up early to start the day with service on a local community project helping out on construction projects to improve low-income family homes. In the evening, return for a delicious dinner at the hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening hanging out with your new friends by the pool.

  • Day 4

    Extreme Adventure

    Wake up bright and early and prepare for this adrenaline-filled day in the south of Costa Rica. After a hearty local-style breakfast, get geared up to head toward the jungle where you will spend the day hiking through beautiful trails and canyons to a series of impressive waterfalls.

    Next, professional guides will instruct you on the sport of rappelling, instructing you on important safety measures and preparing you to rappel down the side of the falls. After this mission is accomplished, spend the afternoon lazing by the natural pools and marveling at the height and magnitude of the waterfalls that you have mastered. Join your traveling companions for a fun pick-up soccer game.

  • Day 5 - 7

    Kayak Expedition

    Wake up early and enjoy a typical breakfast before embarking on a three-day sea kayaking expedition through the Golfo Dulce in the Osa Peninsula. Spend the days paddling through the calm waters, admiring the beautiful green landscape, and stopping at various landmarks along the way. At night, camp out on the beach and enjoy dinner next to a bonfire as you exchange stories of the day’s adventures.

    Your first day on the water will be a full day of paddling, with plenty of breaks along the way. Your second day will include hikes in a private reserve, volleyball and soccer games and you will also have the chance to go snorkeling. Your final day of the expedition will involve a full morning of paddling, as you head across the water to Puerto Jiménez. That afternoon you’ll be able to relax and look back with pride at the distances you covered and the challenges you overcame. Congratulations on finishing the expedition!

  • Day 8

    Service in Puerto Jiménez

    Bienvenidos a Puerto Jiménez, home to many small communities that will welcome you with open arms over the next few days. Spend the day working on various small-scale construction projects, you are also going to be on a local community project helping out on construction projects to improve low-income family homes. In the evening you’ll return to the hotel, and spend the evening falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

  • Day 9

    Service in Puerto Jiménez

    Continue working on your service projects in Puerto Jimenez . This afternoon take a tour of a local chocolate farm to discover the roots and origins of the cacao plant. There will be samples! There will also be time for relaxing back at the hotel or heading into town for some souvenir shopping.

  • Day 10

    Service in Puerto Jiménez

    This will be your final morning to wrap up your service projects and say goodbye to the children and community members that you have grown connected to. As a special reward for several hard days of work, you’ll spend this afternoon at one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Enjoy the warm waves, play a game of soccer or beach volleyball on the sand, or just hang out.

  • Day 11 - 12

    Corcovado National Park

    Awaken to the grunts of howler monkeys and the calls of scarlet macaws, and enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruits and typical Costa Rican dishes before embarking on the day’s activities. During these next two days you will work on beach cleanup efforts that will ensure that this pristine environment is protected for generations to come. You will also take guided hikes through the Corcovado National Park, which will give you the opportunity to check out this remote and untouched home to tropical wildlife. In the afternoons, play games of beach volleyball or relax in a hammock on the beach. Enjoy the peace, tranquility and refreshing vibe of your group’s escape into the wilderness.

  • Day 13

    Further Into the Jungle

    This morning after breakfast, it’s time to pack your bags and continue on with your journey into the Osa Peninsula driving back to Uvita. Tonight you’ll want to get a good night’s sleep before the next day’s adventure!

  • Day 14

    Get Ready for Rafting

    Today is a day packed with adrenaline and excitement as you prepare to experience the beauty and exhilaration of whitewater rafting on the Savegre River. The Savegre is considered one of the most beautiful rivers to raft in the central Pacific due to the lush greenery, the narrow canyons, and above all, the exciting class III and IV rapids. After a full day on the river return for a delicious dinner at the hotel and enjoy a relaxing evening.

  • Day 15

    Rise early and get ready for your return to San José. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to zip line high above the jungle canopy and witness spectacular views of the coastline. Arrive in San José in the evening for a final dinner and your last night in Costa Rica.

  • Day 16

    Homeward Bound or Off on New Adventures

    If you are heading home, you must say your last goodbyes and head off to the airport bright and early in the morning. If you are heading off on another Rustic Pathways adventure in Costa Rica, you will connect to your new program and get ready for your next adventure!

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.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email costarica@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • On Tuesday afternoon students will arrive and 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.

  • Students from the United States and Canada will be automatically issued a 90 day tourist visa upon entry into Costa Rica.
    For students traveling on Passports issued in countries other than the United States and Canada, we recommend you contact the Costa Rican embassy in your home country for additional visa details.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • It does include international travel time. Fortunately, Costa Rica is located very close to United States so students will arrive the same day they depart the US.

  • During Heart of the Jungle program, students will spend the majority of time in the Puntarenas province. They will spend their first and last night in country at a hotel located in Alajuela, close to the airport.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR. Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

     

  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students. Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

  • Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy. Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic. If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

  • Outlets in Costa Rica are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs (or three prong if grounded). Students from Europe will need an adapter. (Adapters are very difficult to find in Costa Rica. Don’t forget yours at home!)

  • Students will visit a variety of different locations but most of the time, students should be prepared for hot, humid weather in the 80’s and 90’s during the day with a daily afternoon rain shower.

  • Students will be staying in eco-friendly lodges during their travels. The lodges are carefully chosen according and are clean, comfortable and safe. Students will also have two nights of more rustic accommodations when they camp in tents on the beach during their kayak expedition.

  • Some students choose to bring an additional ground pad or sleeping pad (though this is not required).

  • Students will be eating at local restaurants as they travel throughout Costa Rica. The food will vary between traditional Costa Rican food and occasional American and international selections.

  • All the places where we stay have bathroom facilities with running water, American style toilets and showers.

  • Students will have limited access to internet during their program when they visit towns with internet cafes. When in Puerto Jimenez, 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. It is important to note that they will also be spending time in some more remote areas, where there will not be public phone or internet access. All of our guides have cell phones for emergency purposes.

  • Students should pack reasonably for this program. Laundry may be available once a week and the cost is $10-$15 depending on the amount of clothes.

  • There are typically more girls than boys however the exact numbers vary from week to week.

  • We are going to be visiting different places every 4 days approximately, the distances are going to be between 2 and 3 hours driving.

  • Rustic Pathways hires private buses/vans/4×4 SUV to transport our students to different program locations.

  • You can not flush the toilet paper.

  • We are going to have access to healthcare 30 minutes away in most of the places, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are in Corcovado that it would take us 3 hours approximately but we would have helicopter support in case of an emergency. We are not in an area where the malaria is present. We do a lot of adventure activities but we frequently check our vendors to make sure that they follow our safety protocols.

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history. In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the HX Global and Centers for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

  • HX Global is one of the world’s leading providers of medical evacuation and travel services. All participants traveling with Rustic Pathways will have access to HX Global benefits through Rustic Pathways’ membership.

    As a member you will have access to HX Global’s extensive travel information database to help you make informed decisions prior to travel. Additionally, all travelers who travel outside their country of residence will have access to medical evacuation support during their program. For more information please visit our HX Global webpage.

  • There is going to be a clinic 30 minutes away from most of the places that we visit, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are in Corcovado that it would take us 3 hours approximately, if it is an emergency we will have helicopter support.

  • Rustic Pathways can cater to most dietary needs on this program. There will be ample access to fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, and grains for those who are vegetarian. Vegan diets can be accommodated, but with a little more foresight and planning as this is not a diet commonly encountered in Costa Rica. 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 costarica@rusticpathways.com with any questions regarding special diets or allergies.

  • Yes, there are bugs. It isn’t unbearable, but we do require students to wear bug spray, preferably containing DEET, and to bring light layers to cover up during dawn and dusk.

  • Personal gifts, internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included. All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • The recommended allowance is $350.

  • Please refer to our Community Service Hour Awards webpage for more information on how service hours are awarded.

  • Rustic Pathways works with local community leaders and organizations to identify and prioritize the needs of each community.

  • Students will work with local Spanish speaking communities, however the focus of the program is adventure and service in an incredibly beautiful location. The possibility of practicing conversational Spanish will exist during community service activities. Local children are especially eager to speak Spanish with Rustic Pathways students.

  • No, all our guides are bilingual so they can help you if you need something

  • Students on the Heart of the Jungle program should be in good physical condition and should be prepared for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking that involve moderate levels of physical activity.

  • Yes, you can.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Wallet/money
  • Book and/or journal
  • Pen
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Ear buds
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Medication
  • Additional community service forms
  • Visa documentation (if applicable)
  • Consent to Travel form
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.

Clothes

  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (8)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long Shorts (2-3)
  • T-shirt (5-7)
  • Tank tops (2-3)
  • Long sleeve shirt (1)
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain jacket
  • Fleece/hoodie
  • Strappy sandals (like Tevas or Chacos)
  • Sneakers
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Work gloves
  • Quick dry towel
  • Beach towel/sarong
  • Headlamp/flashlight

Toiletries

(travel sized in ziplock bags)

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Contacts Contact solution
  • Foam earplugs
  • Personal med kit
  • Deodorant
  • Wet Wipes
  • Razor/shaving cream

Important Reminders

  • *Community Service Appropriate Attire includes T-shirts and tank tops with no visible undergarments and shorts with a 3” or more inseam.
  • Don’t forget the Big Five: Water Bottle, Sunscreen, Bug spray, Rain jacket, Closed-toe shoes.
  1. a
    San Jose

    Welcome to Costa Rica! You will meet your group and program leaders in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

  2. b
    Dominical

    Get ready for surfing!

  3. c
    Uvita

    Horseback ride through the forest and visit the beautiful Merced waterfall.

  4. d
    San Salvador

    Enjoy the Nauyaca waterfall in an awesome rappel.

  5. e
    Golfo Dulce

    Get ready for a three-day sea kayaking expedition through the Golfo Dulce in the Osa Peninsula. Spend the days paddling through the calm waters, admiring the beautiful green landscape, fishing for lunch, and stopping at various landmarks along the way. At night, camp out on the beach and enjoy dinner next to a bonfire as you exchange stories of the day’s adventures.

  6. f
    Puerto Jiménez

    Bienvenidos a Puerto Jiménez, home to many small communities that will welcome you with open arms over the next few days. Each small community here has a local elementary school, many of which are in need of physical improvements and updates. Spend the day working on various small-scale construction projects, you are also going to be on a local community project helping out on construction projects to improve low-income family homes. In the evening you’ll return to the hotel, and spend the evening falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle.

     

  7. g
    Corcovado (Carate)

    Awaken to the grunts of howler monkeys and the calls of scarlet macaws, and enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruits and typical Costa Rican dishes before embarking on the day’s activities. During these next two days you will work on beach cleanup efforts that will ensure that this pristine environment is protected for generations to come. You will also take guided hikes through the Corcovado National Park, which will give you the opportunity to check out this remote and untouched home to tropical wildlife. In the afternoons, play games of beach volleyball or relax in a hammock on the beach. Enjoy the peace, tranquility and refreshing vibe of your group’s escape into the wilderness.

  8. h
    Savegre

    Raft the cleanest river in Central America.