Educational Travel in Costa Rica

Grow Your Educational Travel Offering in Costa Rica

April 19, 2023

Costa Rica is a true haven for wildlife and natural beauty. Over 25% of the country’s entire territory is made up of national parks or protected areas. This is one of the largest percentages of protected land area accounted for by a country in the world. It’s no surprise we’ve gotten increasing enquiries from clients in our US, UK and European markets for educational travel here orientated around environmental conservation.

And that’s precisely why Chi Ngo, our Discova Educational Travel (DET) Regional Project Team Leader, recently spent three weeks there. Her visit and our DET expansion to Costa Rica means:

  • We now offer educational tours here that combine eco and wildlife experiences with service learning, a combination rarely found with other educational travel providers here.
  • You and your student groups can now support a new Discova community development project, the first for us in the Americas.
  • Our Costa Rica team is trained on best DET practices and procedures, and through Chi’s support now have an increasing understanding of what it means to create unique educational trips.
Discova in Costa Rica
Chi (first from left) with part of the Costa Rica team during an essential coffee run.
What can we currently offer student groups to Costa Rica?

Costa Rica’s wild nature is second to none, with animal-lover Chi being especially delighted by the ease at which one can see wildlife roaming freely in their natural habitat.

Sloth - wildlife in Costa Rica

We currently offer educational tours that show off precisely this exceptional natural beauty in Costa Rica. In July we will host our first student groups (5 in total) visiting here, with itineraries being relatively similar and ranging from 2 to 3 weeks. An itinerary would look something like this: 

  • Students land in the capital, San Jose (this is the cheaper flight route in Costa Rica – our office is in Liberia, but flying to the airport here comes at a higher cost). 
  • They then make their way to our community project in Los Santos (more details below) and spend a few days here getting to know the community and supporting build where necessary. 
  • From Los Santos they will enjoy a fantastic multi-day trek out in sublime nature, and spend a night in Manual Antonio at the end of the trek.  
  • Once in Manuel Antonio, they can spend the day searching for wildlife in the exceptional Manuel Antonio National Park, before making their way back to San Jose for departure.  


Interspersed during this itinerary are often soft adventure experiences like kayaking, rafting and ziplining. We believe educational tours are often best enjoyed with a balance of service learning, meaningful cultural interaction and some leisure fun.  

A new community development project 
Thanks to the direction of a supplier of ours, we identified a community in the Dota canton of the Los Santos Zone who would benefit from our DET support. The community is about a 2-hour drive from San Jose centre, making it easily accessible for our team and visiting educational groups.
Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica
Chi exploring Palo Verde National Park (just under a 2-hour drive from our community project in Los Santos) with members of our Costa Rica Product Team.

The average monthly income of families in this community is about 400USD/month, lower than average in Costa Rica. We established that one of the best ways our clients and visiting groups could support the progress and elevate the livelihoods of the people here was to focus on education. About 60-70% of children here continue on to high school education, and of those only about 2% go on to study at university. For most, university is simply too far away from their home (and therefore costly), and with the community’s main source of income being agriculture, children typically end up staying to support farm work and maintain the family business once they’ve completed high school.

Colourful homes and shops in the Costa Rica countryside
Amidst the economic fragility in Costa Rica’s agricultural-focused countryside, Chi spotted colourful, welcoming shops and homes.

It was the bigger objective for Chi’s trip here: identify a community we and visiting students could help, train the team here on precisely how to initiate the development project, and establish a concrete plan and steps moving forward.  

Why Costa Rica
Why here? Broadly speaking, Chi noted that we wanted to expand our DET efforts to Costa Rica because it is incredibly safe, something critical to our educational travel offering. We can create itineraries for students that cover multiple regions with a high safety level everywhere.

Book your students a (last-minute) 5-day/4-night program in one of our Asia destinations!

Costa Rica hills and horses in the countryside
Chi captured the peaceful countryside of Costa Rica’s northern hills at sunset.

Costa Rica also has a very well-established tourism sector (one of its top three industries), largely based on nature exploration and conservation tours. With that comes the assurance of insightful, responsible travel experiences and excellent hospitality. Chi’s time in Costa Rica may have been short, but it gave her a strong, lasting impression of how warm and friendly its people are, and nature conservation at its highest level.

With her years of experience in our educational travel segment and leadership role in Asia, Chi’s visit here was especially important. Through her in-person guidance, our team in Costa Rica could better understand the steps involved in creating exceptional educational itineraries, the unique experiences to search for and incorporate, and how to best begin and plan a sustainable community project.

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