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Costa Rica Biology Tour 2019 - A truly incredible experience

On the 5th of July 2019, 32 very excited students arrived at Heathrow airport, ready to board the plane to Costa Rica! Although the flight was long and tiring it was all worth it when we arrived. Each day we were there we experienced something new and memorable, whether it was hiking through the cloud forest or seeing a toucan, nobody left disappointed.

On the first day we travelled by ferry over to Montezuma, where we would work with the turtles. On the coach ride from the ferry we saw spider and howler monkeys in the trees by the road, which was our first glimpse at mammal wildlife in Costa Rica. The next day we worked with an organisation that protects sea turtles by helping them to build a fence to protect the baby turtle nursery from the waves. We carried logs from the beach and filled sandbags to create a natural barrier. This was really rewarding knowing how this would support the nursery. We then moved on to Monteverde where we visited a frog pond, we were able to see so many types of frogs/toads, if we could find them! This led on to one of my favourite days, where we went hiking through the rainforest 3 times. First was our hanging bridges hike, which enabled us to see millipedes, crabs, exotic flowers, many colourful birds and a green viper! It was stunning to see the views from the hanging bridges as well. During our second hike through the cloud forest, we saw many different types of birds and lots of millipedes again, but what I found the best part was being immersed in this dense rainforest and not knowing what was around the corner. Our final hike of that day was the night walk, which was slightly more scary, walking through the rainforest in the dark. But it was worth it, we saw a raccoon, stick insects and a tarantula!

Our last destination was Arenal, my personal favourite. Our first stop was mine and many others’ highlight of the trip, the sloth sanctuary! It was so incredible to see these wonderful creatures in their natural habitats, the cecropia tree, and being able to take some really cool pictures. I’m sure everyone left with a smile on their face. Unfortunately we had come to our last full day, but it was one of the best. In the morning we visited a local community, the Maleku village who taught us about their lifestyle, living with the rainforest. Our Maleku guide then took us into the rainforest and taught us about the food they would eat and the plants they used as medicine, and many of us ate termites straight from the nest! They then took us in an art class where we were able to paint on the shells of cacao beans, which was lots of fun. Lastly, they cooked us a delicious meal as well as performing a ceremony for us. It was a great way to understand more about the culture of Costa Rica. We went straight on to the chocolate tour afterwards, which was very entertaining and inclusive, we were able to get involved in each stage of making chocolate, from chopping down the plant to crushing the beans. After our hard work making the chocolate, we were able to taste some, and it was very delicious. Our final activity was visiting the Baldi hot springs which everyone enjoyed, from the slides to the hottest spring. Everyone went to their room having thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Overall, the trip was beyond incredible. The hotels were all stunning, the food was scrumptious, and being able to see all the breathtaking wildlife was the best part. We learnt so much about the biodiversity and culture, it is a trip that we will never forget.

Click below to see some montage videos by Katy and Carrie :)

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