Children’s Eternal Rainforest – Student Adventure
Tropical Ecology Field Trips to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica
WE CAN CUSTOMIZE A TRIP FOR YOUR SCHOOL AND ITS SPECIFIC NEEDS!
WHEN: Contact us for available dates.
WHERE: Through the heart of conservation in Costa Rica: Monteverde and the Children’s Eternal Rainforest to the Pacific Ocean.
In William Wordsworth’s 1798 poem “The Tables Turned” he romanticized that much can be learned with a simple walk in the woods, claiming all should just “let Nature be your teacher.” Well, we agree and we have found the perfect classroom straddling the mist-laden continental divide in beautiful tropical Costa Rica. This wonderful place is called the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Our two biological field stations at San Gerardo and Pocosol are ideally situated in the largest private reserve in Costa Rica. You will stay in 55,000 acres of wilderness surrounded by rainforest and filled with exotic tropical flora and fauna, waterfalls, lakes and one of the most active volcanoes in the hemisphere! Teachers, bring your binoculars, rubber boots, poncho, camera and students!
We will provide you with a unique educational experience providing unforgettable lessons on bio-diversity and conservation wrapped in the cultural and historical tapestry of Monteverde, Costa Rica. You may customize your field trip to suit the academic and/or adventure needs of your students. The length of your trip is up to you. We can make suggestions and offer excellent biologists, naturalists, para-taxonomists as guides. Night hikes, solo experiences, and journal-keeping all enrich the experience. Endemic species and photo ops abound. Tree planting and trail maintenance service projects add to the experience. Students feel invested in the forest when they help. We want our visitors to learn about this forest with their heads, but also to feel for this forest with their hearts.
Jeff Norris, owner of Natural Solutions CR and the trip leader, will set up a dedicated trip website to help build motivation before the trip and maintain it during the trip with photos and updates for family and friends back home. He will develop their itinerary into a workbook with maps and activities they can use throughout the trip and then bring home to share with fellow students, family and friends. He will also work with your teachers to incorporate specific learning objectives or goals into your trip. In addition, he offers an “Ask a Biologist” service; as a tropical ecologist and experienced biology teacher, he is available to answer student questions via email or classroom Skype, both before and after the trip.
Contact us with your questions at: trips@friendsoftherainforest.
What follows is a general outline for a memorable 10 day trip. If your school is interested in either a 7 or 14 day trip, please contact our office. Our education specialists will work with you to customize your experience to meet your specific learning objectives and goals.
Day 1 You will be picked up at the Juan Santamaria International airport in the afternoon by your driver and guide. You will enjoy experiencing la hora tica or tico time as it is affectionately referred to. After brief introductions and putting faces with names we’ll be off to Hotel Cacts for the night. Before we turn in we will have a group dinner at a nearby restaurant where we can discuss our expectations for the upcoming 10 days. Overnight Hotel Cacts (D).
Day 2 Have breakfast at the hotel around 7 am on their rooftop lookout. A brief orientation meeting before finishing your packing. We should be packed, ready, and on the bus before 9 am. Our bus driver will come from Monteverde and they will provide most of the transport for the upcoming trip. Shortly after 9 am we’ll hit the road. We will share Costa Rica’s rich cultural history to provide a backdrop for the fantastic natural history you’ll experience on this trip. Our drive from San Jose to Monteverde will provide a tapestry of things to see and discuss. Lunch en route and arrive at La Calandria around 2 pm in the afternoon. Time to check in, relax, and do some short exploring before our first presentation at 4 pm. We will hear all there is to know about the famous Three-wattled Bellbird (La Calandria), why it’s important, and how we can help one of CR’s most charismatic bird species. Dinner around 6 pm and then hear an overview of MCL, BEN (learn your acronyms!) to give you some perspective on conservation and how your trip and Monteverde are entwined in this endeavor. Pack for tomorrow. Overnight La Calandria (B,L,D).
Day 3 After breakfast we will be dropped off on the continental divide and hike into the world famous Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER), or Bosque Eterno de los Niños (BEN), where we will spend the next 3 nights. Have lunch and get settled in as soon as we arrive. In the afternoon you will have some quiet time to experience the forest by yourself. Before dinner we will discuss what we experienced on our first encounter with el bosque, or hear some of your presentations you have prepared. Dinner and electricity will be served around 6 pm and afterwards we’ll hit the trails for a very cool night hike with expert local guides from Monteverde. Lights out at 9 pm (electricity only comes from a generator which is shut off then). Overnight San Gerardo (B,L,D).
Day 4 Bright and early around 6 am there will be an optional early morning bird walk. You will most likely be up anyway (just try sleeping once the birds and howler monkeys of the surrounding forest wake up at first light) so get out and explore! Breakfast will be around 7 am. Later our guides from last night will lead us on all morning hikes around the CER looking for the creatures and features that make this place special. In the afternoon after lunch we will split time between our service project and journal/presentations time. There’s a good possibility of a tortilla making class or just hanging out watching the clouds dance around the volcano. Another fantastic typical CR dinner around 6 pm. After dinner we’ll catch bats with a local expert to learn more about their amazing diversity in CR. Overnight San Gerardo (B,L,D).
Day 5 From hairy wings to feathered ones…today’s early morning activity will be to catch birds with mist nets before/during breakfast. After breakfast you’ll have the opportunity to hike with a buddy on trails by yourselves. After lunch we’ll do a Land Use Exercise in 3 parts to learn more about how humans use nature and the benefits and downfalls of different land use types. After dinner we will continue our discussions on resource use and hear other personal presentations. Overnight San Gerardo (B,L,D).
Day 6 This morning we will likely have an early breakfast, and hike out of the CER to be the first in line for Selvatura’s canopy tour (zip-line) and/or suspended bridges (both optional, $$). We will be picked up in the parking lot of Selvatura around noon and taken to La Calandria again for lunch. In the afternoon plant trees for Bellbird conservation as another service project. Remainder of the afternoon/evening is for either leisure or other activities as organized by your guide/chaperones. Dinner at La Calandria where we will be spending tonight and the next two as we continue our exploration of the Monteverde area. Overnight La Calandria (B,L,D).
Day 7 This morning after breakfast visit a local school in nearby San Luis for some more cultural interaction, learn about the “golden bean” (coffee) at Finca La Bella, then enjoy another picnic lunch next to the San Luis waterfall. Wear your suits beneath your clothes as you may get the chance to enjoy the waterfall up close and personal. In the afternoon back to La Calandria for dinner. Late afternoon/evening activities TBD. Overnight La Calandria (B,L,D).
Day 8 After breakfast at La Calandria hike the trails of another MCL property, Bajo del Tigre. Again you’ll have some time on your own to experience the forest from the much drier Pacific Slope. Afterwards climb a huge strangler fig tree on the property of the late Dwight and Rachel Crandell (two of Monteverde’s, MCL’s, and CER’s biggest supporters). Picnic lunch beneath the fig tree, before we return to the world famous Monteverde Cheese Factory for the best milk shakes in the world. Once our bellies are overstuffed we will have time in the afternoon to explore “downtown” Monteverde where you can do some souvenir shopping at CASEM (a women’s crafts/souvenirs cooperative), or just watch life leisurely stroll by. Dinner at La Calandria. Late afternoon/evening activities TBD. Overnight La Calandria (B,L,D).
Day 9 Breakfast and on the road earlier today as we head down the Pacific slope for our rafting adventure to see plenty of wildlife. Another picnic lunch and visit a very special center dedicated to rescue and rehabilitate CR’s endangered cats. We will get a chance to see these amazing creatures, although the manner in which we see them is somewhat unfortunate (in captivity). In the afternoon we will be on the bus back to San Jose and Cacts hotel. Farewell dinner at a nearby restaurant, a final review of the trip, before we turn in for the evening. Overnight Hotel Cacts (B,L,D).
Day 10 On your final morning an early departure to the airport for your flight back to United States. You will need to pay the mandatory departure tax ($29) at the airport, before checking in for your flight.
TESTIMONIAL from Prof. Barry Allen, Rollins College, Florida, who brings students every year. “San Gerardo (field station in the BEN) is a wonderful facility for studying conservation biology in practice. The setting is incomparable. In our six week program each summer, it is always one of the places which students give their highest evaluations.”
TESTIMONIAL by Dr. Mark Highland, University of Delaware: “This trip far exceeded our expectations for educational value and experience. We knew the trip would provide a glimpse of the flora, fauna and ecosystems of the tropics, but what we received will touch our lives forever. To be immersed in the cloud forest seemed part dream and part ecological Mecca.”
If you are interested in this kind of educational experience for your students, contact us at: trips@friendsoftherainforest.