Costa Rica Green Turtle Research Expedition
The southern Pacific region of Costa Rica is a truly spectacular place. The Osa Peninsula is an extraordinary rainforest, with more than 2/3rds under protection and the Gulfo Dulce is one of just three tropical fjords, with dramatic views in every direction. These waters are home to 2 species of sea turtles, plus dolphins, humpback whales, and more. The land and sea are intimately connected here, with deforestation and pollution from land affecting the diverse ocean life.
On this unique journey, you will work with researchers to catch and study green and hawksbill sea turtles to study and release. These turtles forage and grow in the gulf and nest elsewhere, so catching these turtles is the only way to study them. You’ll also help restore mangroves that are critical to the growth of fish and sea turtles and visit an organic farm that grows and makes its own chocolate (yum). There will also be free time to explore the area, taking a rainforest hike, renting a kayak, or swimming in the gulf (cost not included).
This trip can also be done year round as a private trip for families (8 years and up), and small groups. Profits from this trip will help to save at least 500 hatchlings at a turtle nesting beach per participant.
2019 Date: December 7 - 14
Price: $1,795 per person, double occupancy. Deposit to register: $300 pp.
2020 Dates: Private trips available for private groups of 2 or more from Dec. to August.
Private group pricing:
2-3: $2,495 pp
4-5: $1,995 pp
6+: $1,895 pp
$50 off per person for paying by check
Additional discounts available for private groups of 8 or more
Monthly payments are available until 3 months before departure
Includes: Guide, private transportation, accommodations, meals (except where listed), activities, and a donation to turtle conservation.
Excludes: Airfare to Costa Rica, personal items, and tips for the guide/driver.
Individuals can join the set date above. Group size is limited to 15 people.
Minimum recommended age is 8 years old, under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult.
Itinerary can be customized to meet your group's schedule or preferences.
CONTACT US TO:
Register by mail
Ask a question
Request private dates
Call us at 800-215-0378 to register by phone with a credit card.
Why Travel With US?
All profits support conservation efforts
Work directly with local researchers
DAY 1: ARRIVE TO SAN JOSE
You will be picked up at the San Jose Airport and taken to Hotel Rosa del Paseo in San Jose. Get a good night's sleep to rest up for the fast paced trip. (Dinner not included this first night and can be purchased at the hotel for $10).
DAY 2: DRIVE TO THE OSA PENINSULA
After breakfast, you'll head to the South Pacific coast in a private vehicle (about a 5 hour drive). Along the way, you will stop for lunch and take in the beautiful views. After settling in to your cabins, researchers from our partner Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) will give an orientation to the turtle research and train you in data collection techniques.
This evening, relax and get a good night’s sleep. Overnight at Delfines de Golfo, a simple family lodge with electricity, private bath with hot water, and tv’s.
DAY 3: SEA TURTLE RESEARCH
Today is all about sea turtles. Head out in a shaded boat with researchers to help set nets in key turtle spots (timing dependent on the tide). Once caught, researchers will bring them to the beach where you will have the opportunity to help carry in the turtles, measure them, weight them, and perhaps even tag them. You’ll be looking mainly for green turtles and hawksbills, which are both endangered. In between turtles, take a swim in the beautiful Golfo Dulce or explore the coastline to look for macaws and sloths.
DAY 4: MANGROVE RESTORATION
Today, you will be protecting sea turtles by land, by supporting reforestation and organic farming. This morning, you will participate in LAST's mangrove reforestation program by working in the nursery and planting young trees. Mangroves are critical habitat for juvenile sea turtles, fish, and other ocean life and this area has lost much of its mangrove forests over the past few decades (the wood is popular for construction). We will also help in their small turtle rescue center if there are turtles present.
In the afternoon, there will be free time to take a swim, rent a sit-on-top kayak to paddle around on the gulf, visit Puerto Jimenez to souvenir shop, or other options. That evening, the group will gather again at the cabins for dinner. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: HAWKSBILL TURTLE RESEARCH
Today you will be studying hawksbill sea turtles, which are critically endangered around the world primarily due to the trade in products made from their shells. These turtles are also usually juveniles and are smaller than the greens, averaging 2-3 feet in length and 30-40 lbs. You will collect data including their length and width, check their shells for parasites (not a risk for humans), and weigh and tag them before releasing back to the water. In between turtles, you can take a swim in the beautiful Golfo Dulce, explore the coastline to look for macaws, sloths, and other wildlife, or help clean up plastic waste that washes ashore. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: ORGANIC FARM CHOCOLATE TOUR
Today you'll visit a nearby organic farm to taste a variety of fruits from around the world and to learn about the origins of chocolate, which is native to this region. Pesticides and other chemicals from farms can cause illness in sea turtles, so supporting organic methods is an important way to protect the ocean. You will see the entire process of making chocolate, from growing cacao to harvesting, drying, fermenting and of course tasting, finishing up with a dark chocolate fondue. The afternoon is open to choose from a number of options. Dinner will be with the group at the cabins. Optional activities are not included in the trip price and we will share prices and options before the trip. (B, L, D)
DAY 7: RETURN TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY
Today, after breakfast, the group will pack up the bus and head back north to San Jose. The drive will be broken up with lunch and a walk along the way, getting back to the city in the afternoon. Feel free to take a walk in the city and visit a museum if time allows, before joining the group for a celebratory dinner on the town this evening. Overnight at Rosa del Paseo. (B, L, D)
DAY 8: DEPART FOR HOME
Rosa del Paseo provides a delicious breakfast for your last morning. After, head out for the airport in time for your flight, taking along your memories, photos, souvenirs, and stories to tell friends! You can also extend your stay and visit other parts of the country. (B)
The Osa peninsula is very beautiful. We got to do a lot of snorkeling and sightseeing. The staff and guides are very helpful and caring and take groups out to experience as much fun as possible. The accommodations were nice and the food was always wonderful.
Is This Trip Right For Me?
Costa Rica is a safe and beautiful country that receives more than 1 million international tourists annually. This is a fairly an active trip that requires some of physical fitness and an ability to manage sometimes challenging conditions including weather and heat, bugs, and long bus rides. The accommodations are comfortable but plan to spend significant time on boats and on the beach while waiting for turtles to be caught.
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Photo credits: Hal Brindley, James Richard, & Latin American Sea Turtles