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Renewable Energy, Conservation & Bio-Adventure: 10-Day

Costa Rica has become a leader in sustainable practice and policy.  Throughout the world, Costa Rica is known as a leader in placing natural capital at the center of development.  The country has recently been voted the "greenest and happiest" nation in the world by the independent organization New Economics Foundation, and it’s the only country considered a "BioGem" by the Natural Resource Council.  With nearly 30% of the landmass held in reserve, Costa Rica produces over 90% of its electricity through renewable means such as hydroelectric, bio-fuel, geothermal and wind power.  Furthermore, the country’s local food production is abundant, rendering costs for basic items extremely affordable for everyone.  Costa Rica's government, committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021 (one of the world’s first countries), has launched attractive incentives for conservation and sustainable development projects.  These incentives have spawned many green investment opportunities into areas like forestry, renewable energy and sustainable construction. 

*Note: Comparing Costa Rica with the World - Costa Rica is already a world leader in renewable energy use and tropical forest conservation. Other nations are following Costa Rica’s leadership in this area.  It is cheaper, cleaner, more sustainable, more reliable and safer to produce energy in Costa Rica than the USA, or India and other typical outsourcing destinations.

On our renewable energy, eco-economic sustainability and bio-adventure students will have the opportunity to explore and study the wonders of Costa Rica’s tropical and cloud forests, learn and become part of the future of energy and partake in eco-economic sustainability programs in agriculture, forestry, coastal and wildlife conservation.  Learning and exploring side by side with scientists and naturalists from across the world makes for an exceptional hands-on educational experience.  Below is a sample itinerary.  All itineraries are custom developed and geared to your specific groups’ educational mission, age, length of stay and budget.  

Day 1-3: Arrival to San Jose international airport and transferred to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve – Bio Adventure

University of Georgia Costa Rica Campus: Our unique lodge and study program within the UGA Costa Rica Campus provides a unique lodging atmosphere in tandem with a rich offering of activities not typically found elsewhere. Being a part of the UGA campus allows for a singular experience of educational and nature based activities, as well as interaction with the local community. You are sure to delight in the environment created by enthusiastic campus staff, fellow travelers, and students of all ages participating in UGA Costa Rica Programs during your stay.

Programs include:

Introduction to the Monteverde cloud forest: An excellent introduction to cloud forest ecology and biodiversity, as well as Monteverde history and current conservation issues.

Insect-O-Rama! Learn about the wonders of insect biodiversity, behavior and general classification. Try your hand at collecting insects, and take a look at our specimen collection!

Plant-O-Rama! Dive into the world of tropical plants! Participants will learn about the diversity, common characteristics, and classification of common tropical plant families

Introduction to the Birds of San Luis: Learn how to identify the birds of San Luis. A great introduction for beginning birders and those who want a refresher on Costa Rican avifauna.

Carbon Offset Program & The Bellbird Biological Corridor Lecture: Learn how UGA Costa Rica is working to reforest the Bellbird Biological Corridor and contribute to reducing its carbon footprint at the same time.

Ecotourism as a Tool for Conservation: Learn how ecotourism has provided an opportunity to use tropical forests sustainably.

Plant Communities of Costa Rica: Learn about the major plant communities of Costa Rica. Natural history, bio-geography and taxonomy

Cow milking & bio digester Tour: Try your hand at milking the campus cows … then enjoy the milk in your cereal at breakfast! Learn about how the campus pigs are raised, and how animal waste is converted to cooking fuel in the campus bio digester.

Scientist for a Day: Assist scientists in their current projects taking place on campus and the Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Topics will vary depending on researcher

Additional programs available include: Guided Natural history hikes, night hikes, bird watching, plus much more!

Overnight at: Monteverde Reserve Cloud Forest

Day 3-6: Tenoria Volcano (Northern Costa Rica) Eco-economic Sustainability Program

In the northern region of Costa Rica, between the Tenorio Volcano and Miravalles an ambitious local community project began in 1991 owned and operated by a group of ten determined local families who have become pioneers in ecotourism.

The Story: In 1989, the land the lodge and rainforest now stands (where our program takes place) was assigned for deforestation and land distribution by IDA (Instituto de Desarrollo Agrario) in order to distribute land to families in need.

A group of twenty three local families came together to protect the land from deforestation and formed a community association called ABIPA (Asociación Bijagueña de Productores Agrícolas). With determination and commitment ABIPA was successful and stopped the imminent deforestation of 73 hectares (about 175 acres) of primary rainforest in1991. IDA assigned the land to ABIPA as a new model of conservation in Costa Rica whereby rainforest is protected in private reserves and managed by local communities. ABIPA received the support of several national and international organizations to create a private reserve and further develop this eco-tourism project.

ABIPA has strong values committed to sustainable community development. They want their project to encourage other people in the area to develop incomes from means other than agriculture.  The objectives of ABIPA are to conserve the incredible biodiversity in the reserve, improve the quality of life for the members of ABIPA and the local community and to increase environmental education and awareness for conservation in the local community and further afield.

At our location the students will learn, take part and experience the concept of sustainability: Here the development of sustainable tourism must be seen as the balanced interaction between the use of natural and cultural resources, the improvement of the quality of life among the local communities, and the economic success of the industry, which also contributes to national development. Sustainable tourism is not only a response to demand, but also an imperative condition to successfully compete now and in the future.  Sustainability, as a model of development, seeks to meet the current demands of society without compromising the rights of future generations to meet theirs. That is to say, the development of the country cannot be based on the unbalanced exploitation of resources (natural, cultural, social, etc.) to meet the demands of society (food, housing, health, employment) because these are the only resources we have, and that future generations have, to meet our and their own needs.

Students will spend time with the local community taking part in its many project and local adventures including the Malecu Indian Reservation, and exploration of the adjacent Rio Celeste and Tenorio Volcano National Park famous for its bright blue waters, hot springs, and spectacular waterfalls.

Day 6-8: Miravalles Volcano & Area (Northern Costa Rica) Renewable Energy Projects Program

On this portion of the program we will be exploring a number of Costa Rica’s renewable energy projects and its impact on the environment, society and future development for itself and the world.

Bio-Fuel: The Taboga sugar cane refinery produces electricity out of biomass since its inception in 1958, using bagasse (the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice used as a biofuel and in the manufacture of pulp and paper products and building materials.) as primary source, combustible material that feeds the steam boilers of the mill and obtained from the same process of industrialization of sugar; an excellent example of environmentally friendly clean power generation.

Wind Power: Costa Rica’s wind power potential is similar to California’s and is fast becoming the forefront of energy production in Costa Rica. Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), Costa Rica’s state-run utility, will develop 100 megawatts of wind farms plants through 2015 as the Central American nation seeks to become “carbon neutral.” Wind energy has a strong potential for growth in Costa Rica because of the high winds in the area. In many places in the country, winds average speeds between 15 and 20 miles per hour, only about 9 mph winds are necessary for favorable energy efficiency rates, whereas wind speeds of much higher than 20 mph are considered too high.

Geothermal:  Geothermal power generation, which involves using heat from the Earth’s crust to turn water into steam to power electric generators, is a highly promising technology that could, under the right conditions, generate a much larger percentage of the country’s electricity. In fact, many experts think that developing geothermal energy is the key to Costa Rica’s ability to generate 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.  Costa Rica is basically made up of a string of volcanoes where the Earth’s internal heat is very near the surface – an ideal place for the intensive development of geothermal energy, with currently two geothermal plants in operation.  Our visit to the Miravalles Geothermic Project will give us a unique insight into the process of harnessing Geothermal power and its energy potential.

Solar: While the commercial generation of solar energy in Costa Rica is just getting started, experts foresee quick growth as the cost of generating solar energy drops. The country’s position near the equator and the high number of sunny days in many areas provides excellent generating potential.

While in the area we explore the wonders of the Miravalles Volcano National Park known for its sulfur springs, fumaroles and bubbling mud pots sits 6,653 feet high and is the highest peak of the Guanacaste Mountains.  Here we will spend time hiking the park soaking in natural hot springs and getting covered with volcanic mud!

Day 8- 10: Pacific Coast

After a week of learning and adventure the last 2 nights will be spent at our beach side lodge on the famous Playa Hermosa.  Relax on the beach or if interested in additional adventure nearby attractions include surfing, kayak & snorkel tours and the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park:

Manuel Antonio National Park is internationally recognized as being one of the most bio diverse parks on the planet. Lush tropical forests, lagoons, mangroves and pristine white sandy beaches make up one of the most diverse ecosystems imaginable. Among the 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds, some of the frequently viewed residents include white-faced and howler monkeys, two and three toed sloths and iguanas. The endangered squirrel monkey calls the park home as well. The park contains a great system of well-marked trails to allow visitors to explore. The four beaches in the park, Espadilla Sur, Manuel Antonio, Escondito and Playita, are some of the best in the country. Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio offer very good snorkeling when the water is clear, which is best during the dry season. At 236 feet (72 m) high, Cathedral Point lies between Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. It is connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge and if you are up for the hike, provides a memorable view. Playa Manuel Antonio offers a glimpse into the past with pre-Columbian turtle traps made of stone. Surfing, swimming or just relaxing under the sun are favorite activities for park goers.

Day 10: Departure to San Jose International airport for your homebound flight.

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