Summer Expeditions FAQs
Q: Why Costa Rica?
A: Aside from being an exotic, biodiverse destination, Costa Rica is also very safe. Costa Rica boasts a great variety of tropical landscapes and biomass, all of which are readily accessible and within a relatively short distance of travel. Costa Rica is a democratic republic with little internal strife.
Q: Where is Costa Rica and how big is it?
A: Costa Rica is located in the isthmus of Central America. It is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Costa Rica is exactly 51,100 square kilometers (31,937 square miles). Virtually, you could fit 10 Costa Rica’s in the state of California.
Q: How safe is Costa Rica?
A: Costa Rica is one of the safest countries in the world. It is a peaceful democratic republic with no military. However, we never allow any of our participants to venture off alone without company or without notifying an adult in charge. Also, we always recommend to keep a close eye on personal belongings because petty theft is a big temptation in third world countries.
Q: Do I need to speak Spanish?
A: Although Spanish is the national language of Costa Rica, if you do not speak it you can get by easily. Most “ticos” (Costa Ricans) speak some English and are very willing to learn. They also love to teach Spanish to foreigners.
Q: How do I know which Summer Expedition is right for me?
A: To find the right trip for you, first consider what activities you like or would like to accomplish. Next, please consider the age ranges we have listed for each trip. Lastly, keep in mind whether you want to camp in remote areas or prefer to stay in a bungalow or hotel. Take note that our OSA trip is considered our most challenging.
Q: What travel documents do I need? Do I need a visa?
A: IMPORTANT FOR MINORS UNDER 18 We ask that all participants bring a signed copy a Parent Release Form. Click here for a printable copy of the form. You must have a valid passport to travel to Costa Rica. Be sure your passport will not expire while traveling because it is very difficult to renew it in Costa Rica, especially as a minor. Some airlines may require minors traveling alone be assisted by an airline representative. Visas are NOT required for those traveling from the following countries: European Union, United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. If the country you are coming from is not listed here, please contact the Costa Rican consulate in your area. If you have any difficulties, AUSun may assist you as well.
Q: What is AUSun’s insurance policy?
A: AUSun follows safety standards and regulations established by leading outdoor adventure tourism operators in the US and Costa Rica. We are covered by a Comprehensive Commercial General Liability policy with the Costa Rican National Insurance Institute.
Q: Are there any required vaccinations I must have before going to Costa Rica?
A: AUSun requires that you please be sure to have an updated Tetanus and Tuberculosis shot before coming on any programs. The CDC recommends that those traveling to Costa Rica be inoculated for malaria and hepatitis. These inoculations are not required by AUSun; this is left to your discretion. Should you choose to be inoculated for these diseases, please be well aware of the side effects. If possible administer the inoculations well in advance so that side effects will not affect you during the program. AUSun leaders are qualified to assist in administering or reminding participants to take prescribed inoculations if needed.
Q: Will my family be able to contact me, and I will be able to contact them?
A: Though we try to encourage little communication with home during our programs, telecommunication has advanced quite incredibly in Costa Rica making contact with loved ones far away quite easy. Also, there is always an AUSun representative in the office in Costa Rica that knows the exact location of the group as they are in route of their adventure. While in a city, they may often find access to internet at a café. In case of an emergency, parents can call the office or cell phone of this representative at any time, day or night, and the representative will get them in touch with the group. Participants are also scheduled to call their parents upon arrival to the country, and on specific days during their travels. Parents will be made aware of these days prior trip departure.
Q: Where do the Summer Expedition participants come from?
A: AUSun is definitely a multicultural program. We get people from all over the world coming together on our different programs. Most of the participants for our Summer Expeditions, however, are from Costa Rica and the United States. Many of our national participants from Costa Rica are international emigrants from different countries that have come to Costa Rica due to their parent’s work. This brings an incredible diversity into our expeditions. We have had participants coming South America, Caribbean Islands, Asia, and Europe.
Q: Can friends come together on a trip?
A: Of course, however, it is not necessary. The relationships fostered from a group having to work together through thick or thin are something that is quite astonishing. You will be surprised by the new friends you can make on an adventure far away from home.
Q: Do I need previous experience in outdoor skills? Do I need to be in good shape?
A: NO. All of the outdoor activities of our Summer Expeditions are scheduled to suit all levels of experience. Beginners do not need any previous experience for any activity. Your enthusiasm will guarantee a positive experience throughout the adventure.
Q: What will I see?
A: Costa Rica holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity within its relatively small area. As long as you keep your eyes and ears open, we can guarantee that you will see an incredible amount of creatures that you have never seen before. Depending on the area of your program you are likely to see toucans, herons, egrets, sloths, monkeys, crocodiles, dolphins, whales, turtles, lizards, insects, maybe even a jaguar and thousands of different plants. Landscapes and views can include perfect tubes in uncrowded seas, erupting volcano, canals lined with lush jungle, white water rapids flowing through tropical rainforests, and views from the canopy of lowland or dry tropical rainforests.
Q: What do we eat? What if I am vegetarian?
A: On back county summer expedition, participants will be expected to assist with some preparation and planning, as well as fulfilling various chores and activities required for a successful adventure. We believe in eating good, healthy meals while traveling, and all our trip leaders love to cook and eat. Therefore, get ready to get involved with the meal planning, cooking and clean up – fundamental experiences of an AUSun trip. We guarantee you will enjoy learning the skills and secrets of cooking fresh ceviche, chicken fajitas, pizzas, polenta, couscous, baked desserts and more! On a front country summer expedition, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy the many varieties of meals, fresh fruits and vegetables of Costa Rica. The majority of all meals will be typical Costa Rican meals which include tropical fruits, vegetables, rice and beans, salads and usually the option of fish, chicken, beef or pork. Vegetarians need not to worry; the main staple of Costa Rican cuisine is rice and beans, which provides plenty of protein. We only ask that vegetarians notify us ahead of time so that we may be prepared.
Q: Will I be able to shower and do laundry?
A: All scheduled summer expeditions provide places to shower. Laundry facilities are available upon returning to a city or community after being in the wilderness, but are always available on the front country trips.
Q: What is the male/female ratio on a trip?
A: We have had a diversity of male/female ratios on our trips. Some trips have been completely female, while others have had an even split. AUSun can let you know the ratio for the trip you are interested in upon request.
Q: Will someone be at the airport to meet me on the first day?
A: Yes! Your trip leader will be meeting you at the airport and accompany your throughout your trip.
Q: What is the weather like in Costa Rica?
A: Costa Rica has two seasons: a dry season from the end of November through April and a wet season from May through October. The average temperature is about 75?F (24?C). The coastal regions can be very humid and hot.
Q: Are alcohol, drugs, and tobacco allowed?
A: NO! AUSun maintains very strict policies about NO alcohol, drugs, or tobacco products allowed on any AUSun programs. Participants can dedicate themselves to having a good time through fun activities, adrenaline from adventure, and many laughs.