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Georgian Court University ‑ Tropical Ecology In Costa Rica

March 26 ‑ April 6, 2015


Course Instructor: Matt van Oosterhout, MS. (Tropical Ecologist). 

Field trip co-leader Dr. Louise Wootton (Biology Department Chair)


Costa Rica is one of  the world's greatest biodiversity hotspots.  Although it has only about 0.25% of the world's land mass, it contains 5% of the world's biodiversity. 

Join Georgian Court Ecology Faculty and Students in exploring the flora, fauna and ecology of Costa Rica's forest ecosystems.


Explore the abundant wildlife, and spectacular beauty of this peaceful country during this ten day tour, which will take you from cloud forest to active volcanoes and lowland rainforests.   Free CEUs for educators are available on request.  Academic credit available to those who register for the regular semester class as well as the field trip.


Field Trip Highlights

Visit High Altitude Cloud Forests (Monteverde) a Volcano  (Arenal) and Lowland Rain Forests (La Selva) Participate in research comparing and contrasting ecological processes within those ecosystems Observe a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, toucans, sloths, poison dart frogs and maybe even the elusive Resplendent Quetzal Hike through lush primary tropical rainforest Fly through the trees on a zip lining excursion and go on a thrilling whitewater raft  trip.

Proposed Itinerary

Thursday 3/26/15  Santo Domingo.  Hotel Bougainvillea

Upon arrival at the San Jose International Airport, after clearing customs and collecting your luggage, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for overnight.

Friday 3/27/15   Monteverde.   Monteverde Biological Station

This morning, following breakfast, you will travel to the cloud forests of Monteverde. After getting settled into your rooms and enjoying lunch, you will meet with the staff at the station who will give you an overview of their facilities and tour of the property. You will then begin your research projects, which will be give you hands‑on opportunities to work in three different eco‑zones ‑ high altitude cloud forests, volcanic pre‑montane forests, and lowland rainforests ‑ for comparative analysis. You will have pre‑arranged your project descriptions prior to this expedition.

Saturday 3/28/15 Monteverde.   Monteverde Biological Station

This morning you will continue working on your project at the station. In the late afternoon, visit the Quaker Cheese Factory and treat yourself to their delicious cheese and ice‑cream. You will then return to the station for dinner. This evening, meet with your guide for a discussion about the history of Monteverde, including the arrival of the Quakers, their impact on the ecology of the area, and the changes that were made to preserve it.

Sunday 3/29/15. Monteverde.   Monteverde Biological Station

After an early breakfast, you will visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where you will be able to gather data as well as be given a guided hike by your naturalist guide. Return to the station for lunch, and then continue working on your projects.

Monday 3/30 /15. Monteverde.   Monteverde Country Lodge

In the morning, enjoy a thrilling Sky Trek Canopy Tour. This famous canopy tour consists of 9 zip line cables with a combined length of 3 kilometers and range in distances between 40 meters and 770 meters and heights that range between 20 to 30 meters. After lunch, have time to finish your work in the Cloud Forest. This evening, gather for a discussion about the status of your projects, what you have learned from your work, and how you plan to continue your research in Arenal and at La Selva

 Tuesday 3/31/15. Arenal.   Arenal Observatory Lodge

In the morning travel via land and boat to the area of Arenal Volcano. Upon arrival work on your project on the trails around the Lodge as well as Arenal National Park with your naturalist guide. Dinner and evening at Eco Termales.

Wednesday 4/1/15.  Sarapiqui Valley.   La Selva

In the morning you will return to Arenal National Park for more data collection. After lunch at the lodge, you will travel to the Sarapiqui Valley. After reaching La Selva, and getting settled into your rooms, the staff at La Selva will acquaint you with the facilities and laboratories you will be working with at the station. Night tour with the Botos via Sarapiqui Rainforest Lodge.

Thursday 4/2/15.  Sarapiqui Valley.   La Selva

You will have the morning to work on projects. In the afternoon, enjoy a river boat ride via La Selva. In the evening, following dinner, meet with your professors to review the day's events

Friday 4/3/15.  Sarapiqui Valley.   La Selva

You will have the morning to work on projects. In the afternoon, take the Kapi Kapi Cultural Tour with Sarapiqui Rainforest Lodge. In the evenings, following dinner, meet with your professors to review the day's events

Saturday 4/4/15.  Sarapiqui Valley.   La Selva

This morning will be the last opportunity to finish your project work. Following lunch, enjoy a thrilling white water river rafting tour on Rio Sarapiqui

Sunday 4/5/15.  San Jose.   Hotel Herradura

This morning depart the rainforest and travel to San Jose. En route, visit the Toucan Rescue Ranch. You will be given a tour of the facility, which is quite an experience! The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a rainforest wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, and release organization. They focus on the care, rehabilitation, and study of Costa Rican Toucans and other wildlife. They receive and care for confiscated, sick and injured toucans and other wildlife from government agencies. They provide a loving home with the goal of providing appropriate medical treatment, rehabilitation and then, when possible, they return them to their wild and natural environment. The Toucan Rescue Ranch is a licensed Costa Rican wildlife rescue facility. Following your time at the ranch, continue on to your hotel. In the afternoon you willhave time to enjoy the hotel's amenities, get caught up on your emails, and prepare for your flight home tomorrow. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.

Monday 4/6/15.  Return to New Jersey

This morning you will be transferred to the San Jose International Airport for your flight home.


$3600 or less (10 person minimum).  All students will receive a $1100 travel allowance toward costs from GCU's Global Transformation Initiative and may apply for further Scholarships.  Deadline for scholarship applications is Oct 15 2015).  Price Includes:


Accommodations, meals, entrance fees, and activities listed in itinerary.


Private vehicle transportation unless otherwise noted in itinerary.


Non‑alcoholic beverages with meals.


Full time guide for duration of program.


Tips/gratuities for guide & driver.


Bottled water on the bus.


Travel insurance.


Round Trip Airfare


Price is based on double occupancy. Single occupancy arrangements are offered at additional cost ($200 / person)  Does not include baggage fees, travel insurance or airport taxes.  Cancellations received more than 95 days before the trip will receive a refund minus $100 cancellation fee.  No refunds will be granted for cancellations 94 days or less before departure.No refunds will be given for any of the following: not attending the program; cancelling a reservation on or after the departure date; leaving a program that is already in progress; or choosing to opt out of any pre arranged activities. No partial refunds are given for unused portions of the trip. 

A passport is required for international travel, and many countries require that passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of entry. Certain nationalities may require a visa for entry, U.S. citizens can check requirements at; citizens of other nationalities should check with the appropriate embassy.

Deadline for $200 Deposit:  November 7 2014 Full balance for travel costs due December 18, 2014. 

For more information, please contact

Dr. Louise Wootton; 732 987 2349