Notes From The Field: Best Educational Locations in Costa Rica for Science Groups

Costa Rica is home to 4% of the biodiversity on our planet, many scientists have moved to Costa Rica to use it as their home base to do their studies. In 2015 Costa Rica finished the year using 99% renewable energy.  The geological formation and the commitment to make good use of natural resources is how this has been accomplished.

As a naturalist guide for the last 15 years I have visited a great many locations and here are my tips for the best locations for science trips in Costa Rica:

La Fortuna: La Fortuna in San Carlos, northern Costa Rica is home IMG_0078to one of the most famous volcanoes in the planet.  Arenal Volcano is an active volcano with a beautiful conical shape. The volcano is studied and monitored constantly, with equipment placed around the volcano and in observatories.  La Fortuna is also home to the largest man made lake in Central America. Lake Arenal covers 64 square miles and produces about 40% of the power for Costa Rica. Visiting the lake is a great experience, especially because it was so well designed that it looks natural.

Rincon de La vieja National Park: This area is great to study secondary activity of volcanoes.  In the most visited trail in the park, students can get to see different types of fumaroles with steam coming out of rocky areas, small lagoons and mud pools.  This shows students in a natural setting, how awesome nature can be. The forest in the park is a transitional forest between a Tropical Dry Forest and a Tropical Cloud forest, a beautiful forest with trees that look like taken from a Disney movie or from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. RincoDSC09934n de la vieja volcano produces so much steam that the largest Geothermal Plant in the country was built very near the park. Also between Rincon de la vieja and Miravalles Volcano, groups can visit the largest windmill farm in Costa Rica. This location definitely has a lot to offer science groups.

Sarapiqui Area: Sarapiqui is a Tropical Rain Forest area; considered a highlight for birdwatchers that visit the area. I´m going to focus in two locations in Sarapiqui: The first one is La Tirimbina Biological reserve.  Tirimbina was managed for about 40 years by the Milwaukee Public Museum. In 1986 the museum used La Tirimbina as their basis for their exhibition called Exploring Life on Earth. The Reserve combines the studies on the rainforest, bats, and snakes along with the growth of cocoa or the chocolate plant. The second place in the Sarapiqui area with great educational interest is La Selva Tropical station, considered the most studied tropical forest in the world. La Selva is managed by The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS).  OTS is a non-profit organization of more than 50 universities, institutes and different organizations dedicated to research around the world. The reserve has 3900 acres of protected land and has a trail system of over 50km that allows one to visit different types of habitats without having to leave the property.

Tortuguero National Park: This is The “Costa Rican Amazon”, as it is a combination of more than 100km of canals, rivers and lagoons all navigable in a Tropical Rain Forest habitat.  You are guaranteed to see wildlife as there are three species of monkeys, two species of sloth, caimans,DSC07115 crocodiles and many variety of birds. But probably what makes Tortuguero a world famous attraction is the fact that the beach is the most important nesting place in the Northern Hemisphere for the Green sea turtle  The Sea Turtle Conservancy is an organization that, along with the National Park, have made big efforts in the conservation of the sea turtles by getting the community involved and helping directly with the study and conservation of sea turtles. During the nesting season it is common to see the female turtles nesting and laying eggs on the beach.

Costa Rica has a lot of great educational locations and a lot enthusiastic guides and scientists ready to share their knowledge.

Paulo Segura ● Appleseed Expeditions Guide

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