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This program is the perfect way to improve your Spanish skills before any of our other Latin American adventures. Attend four hours of class instruction each day taught by native Spanish speakers and then head out to take advantage of the action-packed adventures in and around Turrialba. You’ll also live with a local family from Turrialba for a homestay experience that will enhance your language immersion and provide an inside look at daily tico life. This program’s balance of daily Spanish classes, conversational opportunities, and exciting activities is the perfect combination of learning and fun.

Dates listed reflect travel time departing from and returning to the USA. International clients click here.

You must enroll in a program at least 8 days prior to the scheduled departure date. For help choosing an alternate date or location, please contact us to speak with a program expert.

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.

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Program Profile

Costa Rica
Community Service Component
Get to Know
The Language, The People
Live Like a Local
Travel Component
Stationary Program

  • Day 1

    Depart the United States for San José, Costa Rica. All scheduled flights from Newark and Houston to Costa Rica are non-stop and escorted by a Rustic Pathways Flight Leader. Upon arrival at the San José’s airport, you will be greeted by your Rustic Pathways staff.

    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.

    Costa Rica is a fantastic place to learn Spanish. While Costa Ricans are famous for speaking quickly, they speak clearly and with and easily comprehensible and neutral accent. Ticos normally use the formal usted when addressing people, but often throw in terms of endearment like cariño to show their friendliness. Ticos are also known for their patience and acceptance of tourists. Costa Rica provides the perfect learning environment for beginners or more advanced students to hone their language skills, as you’ll soon find out!

    Head over to your lodgings for the tonight where you will spend the first evening meeting new friends from your program. Good luck and enjoy your stay in beautiful Costa Rica!

  • Day 2

    Wake up early for a simple breakfast before heading to Turrialba, a peaceful mountain town with all the quaintness of home yet all the flair of true Tico culture. Upon arriving in Turri (as it is called by the locals), meet the director of the Spanish school and complete placement tests to determine your level of Spanish. After, have lunch and take a walking tour around Turrialba before meeting your new host family. You, and at least one other student from your program, will be living with this carefully selected family, eating with them, and trying out all your new vocabulary on them! The evening will be spent getting to know your family and practicing conversational Spanish skills.

  • Day 3 - 4

    Begin the regular morning schedule of breakfast with your host family followed by Spanish school from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Reunite with your group over lunch at a local restaurant before setting off for an afternoon activity which will be selected by the Rustic Pathways guides with the weather and group interests in mind. Activities may include canyoning, hiking to a beautiful nearby waterfall, taking a tour of a coffee plantation, playing soccer with locals, learning a few salsa steps, scaling an indoor climbing wall, and mountain biking. Please note that over the course of the one-week Ramp Up Your Spanish program, you are not likely to have time for all of these activities. Around 6 p.m., head home for dinner and quality time with your host family.

  • Day 5

    Continue with the regular morning schedule of breakfast with your family followed by four hours of classroom instruction. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the local market and stroll through downtown to get more acquainted with the culture and history of Turrialba. Later in the evening, get your first dose of Latin dance moves with a local dance teacher. Return home to show your new dance moves to your host family!

  • Day 6

    Spend a day of quality time with your host family. Join them on a trip into town, to the local pool or a fresh-flowing river, or to watch a local soccer match. Enjoy this great opportunity to integrate yourself into Costa Rican culture and family life.

  • Day 7

    After a day out of the classroom, return to the Spanish school and continue your regular morning schedule of breakfast at home, then class. Participate in another activity with your group and Rustic Pathways staff. In the evening, enjoy dinner and another relaxing evening with your host family.

  • Day 8

    Participate in one last morning of classes. You won’t believe how much you’ve learned and how quickly the time has flown by! After lunch, students participating in the one-week program will say goodbye to family, friends, and teachers and head back to the hostel in San José.

  • Day 9

    Depart for the U.S. or continue to another Rustic program. Come back soon!

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, 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 the Language Program students will spend the majority of their time in the Cartago province in the town of Turrialba. Students will stay briefly at a base hotel in the Alajuela province upon arrival in country and departure from Costa Rica.

  • 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 with host families in typical Costa Rican homes. Two or more students of the same gender will stay with each family. From years of experience these home stay families have long been a favorite of our students.

  • Breakfast and dinner will be prepared and enjoyed with their host families and will generally consist of typical Costa Rican foods including rice, beans, salads, meat dishes and fresh fruit. The group of students and guides will typically eat lunch together at local restaurants in Turrialba.

  • The families are carefully selected by our Spanish School partnership. These families have been working with Rustic Pathways for the last 7 years and they are used to working with us and they are aware of our rules as well as our guidelines.

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

  • Students will have access to internet during the program due to the various internet cafes in the town of Turrialba. Students can purchase international calling cards in Costa Rica which can be used to call the United States from public phones in Turrialba. All of our guides have cell phones for emergency purposes.

  • Students should pack enough clothes and personal items to last through for one week at the language program. Host families will do laundry of students staying for more than one week in Turrialba cost of $3 – $8 depending on load.

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

  • You can not flush the toilet paper.

  • The drive from San Jose to Turrialba is approximately 2 hours depending on weather and other driving conditions.

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

  • We are going to have access to healthcare 15 minutes away in most of the places, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing rafting in the Pacuare River 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 International SOS 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.

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

    As a member you will have access to SOS’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 International SOS webpage.

  • There is going to be a hospital 15 minutes away from most of the places that we visit, the only time that is going to be farther is when we are doing Rafting in the Pacuare River 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 contactcostarica@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 $100.

  • There are no service projects on this program. Students staying for more than 2 weeks on the Language programs may arrange to have an internship at a local school or senior citizens center which may then qualify them to receive service hours on a case by case basis.

  • Yes! Students will receive four hours of formal instruction per day from professional Spanish teachers. They will also be staying with Costa Rican host families which will help them practice their conversational Spanish skills as well as give them an insight on Costa Rican culture.

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

  • The Language programs are appropriate for students of all levels of physical ability.

  • 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.


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.


  • Socks (8)
  • Underwear (8)
  • Jeans (1)
  • Long Shorts* (2-3)
  • T-shirt (6)
  • Tank tops (4)
  • 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


(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

    Spend 8 days in Turrialba, learning Spanish at the school lessons and your host families. Enjoy the different activities during your stay at this pretty town.