Overview Description Requirements Outline Itinerary Cost Application Instructor Rainforest And Reef Penn State Lehigh Valley Biology - Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin
Rainforest and Reef

Length 16 Days/15 Nights

Includes : All instruction and guide services; all meals and lodging as stated in the itinerary; all ground and water transportation within Costa Rica; all entrance fees to National Parks and other sites; round-trip international airfare to Costa Rica.

Does not Include : International airport departure tax (26.00US$ per person), passport fees, insurance, gratuities to guides, drivers, or transfer personnel, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, bottled water, laundry, telephone calls, or any other expense of a personal nature. 

Tour Leader : Dr. Jacqueline S. McLaughlin, Assistant Professor of Biology, Director CHANCE, Pennsylvania State University, Lehigh Valley campus.

Tour Field Assistant : Timothy R. Dugan, PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry Forester

Tour Provider : Rainforest and Reef Costa Rica 

Field Presentations : Daily presentations on key environmental and conservation topics/issues by invited researchers, CHANCE director, CHANCE staff, or CHANCE participants will occur at some point every day throughout the below itinerary after leaving San Jose (Day 1). 

MEAL CODES: B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner

* This experience will be rigerous and challenging please review the physical requirements before considering to participate.

Day 1 - July 5th
Following your arrival at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, you will be met by staff members and transferred to a comfortable hotel. After dinner, there will be a brief orientation session. Overnight at Rosa del Paseo Hotel, San Jose.
Day 2 - July 6th
Following breakfast, we will drive towards the Caribbean coast by way of van. Our group will pass through the Caribbean port village of Limon, where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1502. Then we will continue on to the village of Gandoca, near Panama. This village is the access point to one of Costa Rica's marine reserves, Gandoca-Manzanillo Natural Refuge. This area recently gained protection because of its importance as a major nesting site for the endangered Leatherback sea turtle. Once in Gandoca, we will meet the staff of Asociacion ANAI, a small Costa Rican based NGO that has pioneered some of the tropical world's most successful community-based sustainable development practices. Anai staff, and researchers from around the world, conduct research in Gandoca on the nesting, egg laying, and hatching of the Leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, as well as run a conservation program that works to ensure the survival of this species by helping the local community become more economically self-reliant through environmentally friendly activities. After we settle into our accommodations (homestays) and become acquainted with our new families, we will participate in an informative training session by the staff at ANAI.

Note: Lodging and meals at Gandoca will take place at the houses of local families in this community.

Day 3 - July 7th
Following breakfast, participants will assist in the daily research and conservation activities of ANAI. Research activities include obtaining data on hatchling viability and temperature's role in gender determination. Conservation activities aim in protecting the nests from human poachers and, more recently, from the erosion of the beach. Before the project began the poaching rate was over 95%, but with the presence of volunteers at night patrolling the beach and guarding the hatcheries, the survival rate increased to over 90% last season. There are two nightly patrols, from 8pm to 12 midnight and 12 midnight to 4am wherein a 'patrol shift' of volunteers (PSU participants and other volunteers from around the world) is led by an experienced patrol leader. Together volunteers and the patrol leader walk a sector of the 11km beach searching for nesting females. Once a turtle is encountered on a night patrol, the volunteers work directly with the turtle, taking carapace and nest dimension measurements, collecting eggs and tagging the rear flipper of the turtle. The collected eggs are then relocated on the beach or taken to the hatchery, where the volunteers on 'hatchery shift' ((PSU participants and other volunteers from around the world)) construct a surrogate nest and transplant the eggs. The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification is then recorded by the hatchery attendants for further data analysis. The approximate incubation time for Leatherback turtle eggs is 60 days. Volunteers on assigned hatchery duty (6 hour shifts, day in and day out) must also check turtle nests every thirty minutes and if hatchlings are encountered they must be counted and released in the evening to an appropriate location along the high tide line and watched until they reach the sea. Other activities that we will be directly involved in include hatchery construction itself and beach clean-up. The latter helps to remove debris that may hamper female turtles from coming ashore or hatchlings from making their way to the ocean. Debris includes plastic goods, aluminum cans, and logs brought ashore by sea currents. While walking the beach day or night, we will always be on the look out for hatchlings attempting to make a departure to sea. Such hatchlings will be brought back in a hatchery and released just before sunset to increase their chances of survival. Dinner and overnight at Gandoca.
Day 4 - July 8th
We will continue our research and conservation volunteer work with staff member from Asociacion ANAI.

Hawks Aloft Worldwide, of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, Pennsylvania, is an international conservation initiative, which helps identify partners and establish important migration watchsites, particularly in Latin America. New watchsites in Cuba, Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica are providing valuable information on the numbers of migrants that breed in North America and migrate to Latin America. The new sites provide public access to the grand spectacle of migration and replicate the successful combination of education, research and monitoring programs used at Hawk Mountain in support of conservation. A watchsite in Talamanca, Costa Rica, led by Association ANAI and established in 2000, also tallies more than one million raptors and engages the local community in raptor conservation. In 2001, the Talamanca watchsite counted 2,963,130 raptors. Today, our group will have a special presentation on this program. Dinner and overnight at Gandoca.

Day 5 - July 9th
We will continue our research and conservation volunteer work with staff members from Asociacion ANAI. Dinner and overnight at Gandoca.
Day 6 - July 10th
Today we will say good bye to the community of Gandoca and staff of Asociacion ANAI. Following a bus ride along the Carribean coast, we will travel by boat through an inland waterway to Tortuguero National Park and the John H. Phipps Biological Station of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC). Upon arrival, we will be welcomed by research staff of the CCC then given an orientation session in order to learn about the history and work of this organization (CCC) and the volunteer work we will be undertaking. The black sand beach of Tortuguero draws the largest nesting population of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, in the Atlantic Ocean. The southern Tortuguero beach is also an important nesting habitat for Leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea. In 1954, Dr. Archie Carr initiated pioneering conservation work and research on marine turtles at Tortuguero. During the past four decades, his ongoing study has become the longest continuing sea turtle research program in the world. As a participate volunteer in a CCC research program, we will assist CCC's sea turtle biologists by tagging and measuring turtles, counting eggs, marking nests, recording data, conducting morning nest surveys, tracking surveys and nest inventories. As with Asociacion Anai shift will be done on a daily basis, throughout the day and night.Dinner and over night at the Jungle Lodge, Tortuguero.
. Note: there is a limitation of 25 pounds per person on the trip to Tortuguero, so will repack in order to have only what we really need during our stay in Tortuguero. Our bus drivers and guides are of the highest caliber, and will guard items left behind.
Day 7 - July 11th
We will continue our research and conservation volunteer work with staff member from the CCC. After breakfast on this day, all participants will travel through the canals of Tortuguero National Park by way of boat to observe the lush surrounding lowland tropical rainforest. Some call this "Costa Rica's Amazon", as eleven different life zones have been identified within the Park. Wildlife found here includes three species of monkeys, river otters, three-toed sloths, caimans, iguanas, freshwater turtles and more than 320 species of birds, including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the New World, 3 species of toucans and 8 species of parrots. Aside from its' diverse flora and fauna, Tortuguero National Park is a beautiful and tranquil spot, with palm-lined beaches stretching off as far as the eye can see in both directions. Following our boat ride, we will take a hike guided by highly experiences naturist guides through selected parts of the Tortuguero National Park. Dinner and overnight at Jungle Lodge,Tortuguero.
Day 8 - July 12th
We will continue our research and conservation volunteer work with staff member from the CCC. A visit to the local elementary school of Tortugeuro will also be undertaken. Dinner and overnight at Jungle Lodge, Tortuguero.
Day 9 - July 13th
Early this morning, we will leave Tortuguero by boat by way of its canal systems. (Our bus and the rest of our luggage will be waiting for us at the completion of our boat journey). We will then be bused to La Selva Biological Station, a famous research facility managed by The Organization of Tropical Studies. La Selva is located at the confluence of two major rivers in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica. La Selva comprises 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres) of tropical wet forests and disturbed lands. It averages 4 m (over 13 feet!) of rainfall that is spread rather evenly throughout the year. The Station has about 73% of its area under primary tropical rain forest. As for its history, La Selva was originally established in 1954 by Dr. Leslie Holdridge, as a farm dedicated to experimentation on mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

After lunch at La Selva, we will partake in a guided hike through the rainforest, then listen to a presentation by La Selva staff on the research and conservation work that is being done at the station. Note: The facilities at La Selva are dorm style.

Day 10 - July 14th
After breakfast we will have the chance to work side by side field researchers and their teams from around the world on projects whose topics range from global warming (rain forest productivity) to amphibian decline (just to name two). We will also take part in a long-term project known as "La Arboleda", in one of the most well studied patches of forest in the world. Dinner and overnight at La Selva.
Day 11 - July 15th
We will continue our research and conservation volunteer work with staff members and researchers associated with La Selva. We will also have the opportunity to spend more time hiking, and scouting for bird species in the rainforest. Dinner and overnight at La Selva.
Day 12 - July 16th
After breakfast, we will say good bye to the staff and researchers at La Selva and venture back into our buses. We will travel to the Reventazón River in order to experience the thrills of white water rafting.. Beginning near a picturesque train station that was once a stop along Costa Rica's famous Jungle Train, we will spend the day of and on the water, getting wet, having fun, and relaxing in the sun during a picnic lunch. Following our adventure, we will head back to San José to spend the night. Dinner and overnight at Rosa del Paseo Hotel, San José.
Day 13 - July 17th
After an early breakfast our group will begin a trip to the village of San Gerardo de Dota, a quiet community located on the Talamanca Mountain range. We will then travel on to Savegre Lodge along the Savegre River. On the route we will come to the highest point of the entire Pan American highway at an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level, encountering the northernmost limit of páramo, or tropical tundra habitat, with highland shrub and tussock grass being the dominant vegetation. We will hike briefly in this unique ecosystem, attempting to spot some of the birds or mammals that have adapted to this environment. Savegre and its surrounding regions are some of the finest examples of high elevation cloudforest in all of Latin America. At the Savegre Lodge, the Savegre River is well stocked and offers excellent for trout fishing. The farm itself has apple orchards and a small dairy operation. We will take time to settle into this tranquil place. Dinner and Overnight at Savegre Lodge. Savegre.
Day 14 - July 18th
After an early breakfast, we will take a birding hike within the surrounding area of the hotel. There are numerous trails here that provide an excellent opportunity for hiking. Horseback riding is also available. Savegre Lodge and the surrounding cloud forest, is considered by many to be the best place in the Latin America to see the resplendent quetzal year-round, one of the most beautiful birds in the Americas. Other high-elevation birds, that could be sited, include a variety of hummingbirds, the sooty robin, volcano junco and several species of silky flycatchers. Meals are home cooked and much of the wholesome food served is grown on the Sevegre farm. Dinner and Overnight at Savegre Lodge, Savegre.
Day 15 - July 19th
After an early breakfast our group will begin the trip back to San José.. Once in the city our group will visit some of the main governmental buildings and cultural centers of the Costa Rica's capital. We will return to the hotel prior to our semi-formal 'farewell dinner.' Overnight at Rosa del Paseo Hotel, San José.
Day 16 - July 20th
After an early breakfast and farewells to our Rain Forest and Reef staff, we will be transferred to Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside San José for our return flight home.

Overview | Description | Requirements | Outline | Itinerary | Cost | Application | Instructor

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©2005 Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley College

This site was last updated on July 30, 2005.
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