STUDENT GROUP JOURNEYS
Embark on a transformative journey through Costa Rica’s diverse landscapes, from lush jungles and vibrant communities practicing sustainability, to national parks teeming with biodiversity. Engage in community service, learn about local cultures, and partake in thrilling adventures like whitewater rafting, surfing, and sea kayaking.
Discover Costa Rica’s wildlife and beaches on our exhilarating short adventure trip.
(5 Days / 6 Nights)
Trip Option 1.
A TASTE OF IT ALL
Explore Costa Rican culture at a historical hacienda, engage in community service at a local school, unwind in hot springs, experience a creek canyon tour, and explore the cloud forests through hiking and canopy tours.
Trip Option 2.
THE ESSENCE OF COSTA RICA
Discover a thriving community’s sustainable practices and involve students in a local project. Explore Costa Rica’s biodiversity and adventure at Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
Trip Option 3.
A SUSTAINABILITY ADVENTURE
Explore a jungle community practicing permaculture and sustainability, join in daily tasks, and enjoy beach yoga. Hike out for surfing and cap the trip with a day of whitewater rafting on a top river.
Trip Option 5.
THE PERFECT COMBO
Immerse yourself in a jungle community focused on permaculture and sustainable living. Engage in daily activities and beach yoga, surf after a hike to civilization, and conclude with whitewater rafting on a renowned river.
Trip Option 6.
DISCOVER COSTA RICA
Explore northern Costa Rica’s culture and nature. Start with community insights and two service days. Adventure in a national park, try tubing, canyoning, mud baths, and finish with coastal kayaking and surfing.
Trip Option 7.
AN ADRENALINE ADVENTURE
Embark on an exhilarating adventure starting with white water rafting on the renowned Pacuare River, exploring highland mountains, and an interactive coffee tour. Rappel down a waterfall, sleep in a cavern, and wrap up with surf lessons before heading home.
Our itineraries are evaluated based on six criteria: Accommodations, Locations, Comfort zone levels, Trip Tasks, Adventure and Service. The six criteria are rated on three different levels as per the following chart.
Please note that there are short itineraries 5–6 days and long itineraries 8–10 days, all which can be shortened or lengthened to meet your educational and financial needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Costa Rica a good place to take my class on a trip?
A: YES! It’s the best classroom on the planet! 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 also a democratic republic with no internal political 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 to the state of California.
Q: Is Costa Rica safe?
A: Costa Rica is is a peaceful democratic republic with no military. As with anywhere you travel, petty thievery can happen; therefore, it is important to keep a low profile, avoid temptations for thieves and keep your personal belongings close or leave them at the hotel.
Q: Do my students or I need to speak Spanish?
A: Although Spanish is the national language of Costa Rica, if you or your students 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. We also have some wonderful language program opportunities that we can include in your itinerary.
Q: What travel documents do we need? Do we need a visa?
A: You must be sure you and your students have valid passports to travel to Costa Rica. It must have at least six months validity before expiring or you may not be allowed to enter or depart Costa Rica. Be sure your passports will not expire while traveling in Costa Rica because it will be difficult to renew in Costa Rica, especially as a minor. If you are traveling with a son or daughter that was born in Costa Rica, be aware that you will be required to process permits several days before your departure for your son or daughter to exit the country. 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. All participants must be covered by medical insurance. We recommend that each student checks with their insurance carrier as to whether they will be covered for a trip of this nature. If not, we request they purchase medical insurance specifically for this trip with AUSun. AUSun insurance covers theft, loss or damage of basic personal property and equipment like clothes, shoes, backpacks, and suitcases. We suggest students confirm that their insurance coverage includes more expensive items like electronic equipment.
Q: Are there any required vaccinations I must have before going to Costa Rica?
A: AUSun recommends that you have updated Tetanus, Tuberculosis and COVID shots before traveling to Costa Rica. 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 aware of the side effects. If possible, administer the inoculations well in advance so that side effects will not affect you during your travels. Costa Rica is listed as a country with Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya, therefore, please consider bringing plenty of mosquito repellent and attire to protect yourself from mosquito bites throughout your travels.
Q: What is AUSun’s policy regarding students’ electronic devices?
A: AUSun Student Group Journeys are experiences created for students to disconnect from their daily routines and devices, and to reconnect with themselves, nature, and their peers in a healthy, outdoor environment. We therefore request all students (Middle and High School) to leave their devices at home. This will also avoid loss, theft, or damage of these expensive items. Our staff and your school representatives will carry cel phones, and a communications system will be established to keep the school and parents informed throughout the trip. We suggest your teachers take pictures throughout the experience to share with the students and parents after the trip. We realize that this is a difficult policy to uphold, however our experience is that the results far out way the challenge of a journey without screen time.
Q: What is the average size of a Student Group?
A: Group sizes are generally defined by the client. We really like to recommend an average of 12 – 17 students, as this allows room for individual attention to be given to each student during the course by the teachers and trip leaders. We can however, accommodate much larger groups.
Q: Is there any limitation as to how many adults can come on the trip?
NO. The group can travel with as many adults as you like or need. In our experience though, students often feel inhibited by too much adult supervision so we recommend one adult for every 8-10 kids. We will try to provide complimentary trips for most teachers too.
Q: How many trip leaders do you provide for a student group?
A: AUSun provides one trip leader for the first 12 students. We do recommend that at least one representative from your institution be present, thus establishing two adult chaperones for the group. After 15 though, we will recommend another trip leader, or more chaperones.
Q: What type of experience do your guides/trip leaders have?
A: AUSun trip leaders are required to carry a national guiding license which is awarded after completing an intense course on Costa Rican natural history, English language classes, tropical biology, CPR, first aid, etc. AUSun also requires trip leaders to partake in our week long staff training program held every year and in which we teach them the guidelines, policies, procedures and standards of all of our programs.
Q: How will we be traveling during our journey?
A: During your trip, the majority of your travels will be done by a private van or bus that can accommodate your entire group and your luggage comfortably. All vans or buses used for AUSun programs have insurance, carry a tourism transport permit, and have seat belts.
Q: How do you select the locations and activities for a group? Can you include places we know of and<br /> want to visit?
A: During our low season, AUSun staff heads out to scout new locations and review old ones. We test the tours and activities; we even try out the restaurants again. We always select those locations that we feel are the most authentic, follow the highest safety standards, have proof of insurance, excellent safety and health records, updated risk management plans, certified guides, national ownership, environmental awareness, and remarkable landscapes.
Q: Do the students need previous experience in outdoor skills? Do they need to be in good shape?
A: NO. All of the outdoor activities are scheduled to suit all levels of experience. Beginners do not need any previous experience for any activity. The group’s enthusiasm will guarantee a positive experience throughout the journey.
Q: What type of Service projects can AUSun set up?
A: AUSun has been establishing service projects with several different communities in need throughout the country for some time now. Depending on the final itinerary established, and the type of project you are interested in, we will select the community; but the projects can vary and include: reforestation of native species within reserves; construction or maintenance of infrastructure for community establishments like schools, non-profits, homes for elderly, community centers, etc; waste management, clean up and awareness activities; English classes for rural schools; or environmental education activities and projects with local students.
Q: What can the group expect to 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 a jungle lined coast, the vast ocean, erupting volcano, tropical waterways, white water rapids flowing through tropical rainforests, and views from the tree top canopy of lowland or dry tropical rainforests.
Q: What do we eat? What if some are vegetarians?
A: On your student group journey, 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 typically Costa Rican which includes 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 Rica cuisine is rice and beans that provide plenty of protein. We only ask that vegetarians notify us ahead of time so that we may be prepared. Unless the Group Coordinator requests it, participants of a Student Group Program will not be expected to assist with any meal preparation and or planning in a backcountry setting.
Q: Will someone meet our group at the airport on the first day?
A: Yes! Your trip leader(s) will be meeting the group at the airport and accompany you throughout your journey.
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: What are your policies regarding alcohol, drugs, tobacco, weapons and misbehavior?
A: AUSun maintains firm policies on weapons, tobacco, illegal drugs and alcohol possession or use by minors (legal age in Costa Rica is 18). If an underage participant is found possessing weapons, tobacco, illegal drugs or alcohol or engaging in one of these activities he/she will be sent home immediately at his/her own cost. In addition, if an underage participant is found to be disruptive to the trip, a disciplinary problem and/or hazardous to the safety of others, he/she will be sent home at his/her own cost. In such event, no refunds will be granted. If a participant of age is found possessing weapons, tobacco, illegal drugs or alcohol or engaging in one of these activities and is considered disruptive or a hazard for the trip and the activities programmed his/her dismissal will be reviewed and considered with the organization representatives. If a participant of age is dismissed, no refunds will be granted, and he/she will return home at his/her own cost.
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