The coastal and river environments of Costa Rica provide a perfect backdrop to expand wilderness travel skills. This small tropical nation is fast becoming a renowned destination for whitewater rafting, surfing, rainforest trekking and eco-adventures. About the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has a variety of climates, including tropical dry forest, rainforest and cloud forest. Due to its mountainous landscape and tropical rainfall, Costa Rica boasts more whitewater rivers than any other country of its size. The warm tropical rivers cut through lush rainforest and create an ideal rafting playground. From the rivers, the group heads to the beach for the surfing phase. The Pacific Ocean provides Costa Rica with exceptional surf conditions year-round for beginner to advanced surfers.
The final phase of the Florida Keys to Costa Rica Leadership Semester program is located in Panama, where the group learns two technical skills: SCUBA diving and sea kayak expeditioning. The Bocas del Torro archipelago is a tropical island paradise consisting of some 68 islands located near the Caribbean border with Costa Rica. The islands are home to a rich, heterogeneous culture including the indigenous Guaymi-Ngobe people, who are direct descendants of the original inhabitants of these islands and the afro-Caribbean Bastimentenos. The Guaymi communicate in both Spanish and their traditional language, of which there are only about 2,000 fluent speakers left in the world. Their dwellings are typically constructed on stilts over the water with grass-thatched roofs. Several small communities and outlying homesteads host the group as students explore the region in expedition sea kayaks. The Guaymi-Ngobe community on the island of Solarte is our staging ground for the SCUBA element of the course.
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