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Partners in the Parks: Costa Rica - Juan Castro Blanco National Park
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Partners in the Parks: Costa Rica - Juan Castro Blanco National Park

Topics covered through this trip include biological corridors, tourism, tropical mountain ecosystems and transition zones, ornithology, herpetology, sustainable agriculture and other topics based on the availability and expertise of seminar leaders. Although the primary focus will be on the resources, management and issues in the parks, students will also get the chance to participate in a humanitarian service project, and an afternoon of river rafting.

 Export to Your Calendar 6/3/2020 to 6/11/2020
When: June 3-11, 2020
Where: Juan Castro Blanco National Park
Costa Rica
Contact: NCHC Office
(402) 472-9150

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Please read the following before registering:

Affiliating yourself with your institution

If you are not the director of your program, or you do not hold a current NCHC Institutional, Professional, or Student Membership, and/or have not attended an NCHC program in the past year, you may not be in our new software system yet!

You must sign up as a "Contact" prior to registering for any NCHC program. 

Sign up as a Contact!

Be sure to select “Contact” when creating a username for our website. If your institution has an Institutional Membership, signing up as a "Contact" will affiliate you with your institution, and you'll receive the member discount. If you sign up for any membership aside from "Contact," you will be asked to pay for that membership fee.

You'll receive an email notification, and THEN you may start registration for the intended institute.

(If your institution is not a member of NCHC, please proceed as a "Guest.")

*Members receive a 50% discount on NCHC Partners in the Parks registration pricing!

Questions? Contact the NCHC office at (402) 472-9150 or



Institution Limitation for Participants

At the maximum, only two students from any one institution will be allowed to participate on an individual trip. If you are unsure if other students from your institution are signed up for the trip, please check with your school's honors office, or send an e-mail to 


Mandatory Documentation

This year, when you register, you will be required to turn in 3 forms stating your acknowledgement of different NCHC policies while you are a participant on your potential trip. To save you some time while registering, we recommend downloading these files now, digitally or physically signing them, and have them ready to be uploaded with your application.




While learning about the unique resources protected by the preserve and the park students will gain a greater appreciation for the commitment and work required to establish nationally protected lands and how these areas can work with private land owners to protect plants, animals and ecosystems. Learning experiences will include participation in a reforestation project planting new habitat for endangered rain forest bird species.

Another important and unique aspect of this project is the chance for students to compare and contrast their experience in a Costa Rican national park with similar visits they may have made (or will make) to U.S. sites run by our own National Park Service.


In regards to your inbound flight, this is the official airport registrants should fly into:

San Jose International Airport (SJO) - Also known as Juan Santamaria International Airport


Proposed Itinerary

June 3-11, 2020

Meals Provided (BLD) = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Wednesday      06/03/2020                  San Jose                                                            Wyndham Herradura (D)

•     Meet at airport
•     Check in at city hotel starts at 3:00 pm.
•     Seminar/dinner: Orientation, Costa Rica rainforests, biodiversity and national park system
•     Accommodation: Hotel

Upon arrival into San Jose, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. In the evening have an orientation to Costa Rica and presentation on the country's biodiversity and national park system. Costa Rica has protected more than 2.7 million acres of microclimates with 75 national parks and reserves. Check in starts at 3:00 pm. Room type - Superior


Thursday          06/04/2020             Cuidad Quesada                                                 Albergue Pozo Verde  (BLD) Travel to Juan Castro

•     Travel to Juan Castro Blanco National Park (further orientation en route).
•     Seminar: Orientation and education (Visitors’ Center)
•     Recreation/Seminar: Hiking/exploring to Pozo Verde with faculty and a guide focusing on land/water issues.
•     Accommodation ‐ Cabin


Blanco National Park with an orientation to the park along the way. Upon arrival visit the park's new visitor center and possibly have the opportunity to speak with a park ranger or other personnel about the park (daily visitors, highlights, etc.). Spend the day exploring the park with your guide. Room type - Cabin


Friday        06/05/2020            Cuidad Quesada                                                Albergue Pozo Verde (BLD)

•     Seminar: history of land use and forestry in Costa Rica. Successful efforts to reclaim and rebuild lost rain forest.
•     Service project: Juan Castro Blanco National Park. (Collecting seeds from endangered trees/plants)
•     Service Project, continued: (planting in a greenhouse were they will be nursed and then re‐planted back to the park.
•     Accommodation – Cabin

Today you will work on a service project within Juan Castro Blanco National Park. This park is unique compared to other parks in Costa Rica in regards to its ownership and management. This area was declared a national park mainly to protect the water reservoirs for the region of San Carlos though the national government has actually purchased only 5% of the land. In some parts of the park, farmers and cattle ranchers were still using their land while they were waiting for the government to purchase it. Management and protection of the park is the responsibility of a group of neighbors that call themselves APANAJUCA and the hydroelectric dams (generating 12% of the national production of electricity) are operated by a local cooperative called Coopelesca, and other damns by the National Institute of Electricity (ICE). APANAJUCA has an ongoing reforestation project that you will be assisting with today. Venture into the forest with a local guide from the association and collect the seeds of endangered trees. The seeds are then brought to a greenhouse were they will be nursed and then planted back to the park. Room type – Cabin


Saturday       06/06/2020            Cuidad Quesada                                                Albergue Pozo Verde  (BLD)

•     Seminar/Recreation: Hiking/exploring primary forest with faculty and a guide.
•     Service Project: Complete reforestation work, transplanting seedlings to former range land.
•     Recreation: Termales del Bosque Hot Springs.
•     Accommodation ‐ Cabin

Spend the time finishing service project. This afternoon, visit Termales del Bosque Hot Springs. After dinner, return to Albergue Pozo Verde. Room type - Cabin


Sunday  06/07/2020                  Sarapiqui                                                         Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

•     Move to Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve
•     Seminar: Orientation and education
•     Seminar: Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) local culture and the important role of conservation.
•     Seminar: Night hike in rainforest (nocturnal animals and insects).
•     Accommodation – Dorm/Hotel

This morning travel to Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve, located in the lush lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica. Founded in 1985, the lodge is designed to have a minimum impact on the environment and is a proud participant in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program (CST). After settling in, enjoy an orientation to Selva Verde and then visit the nearby Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) for a charla presentation on local culture and the important role the SCLC plays in the community. The SCLC is a not for profit organization founded to preserve the cultural integrity of the rural community of Chilamate and aid in sustainable community development projects. After dinner, take a night hike to discover nocturnal creatures such red eyed tree frogs and many species of insects. Room type - Sarapiqui


Monday      06/08/2020                  Sarapiqui                                                          Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

•     Seminar: Tropical Birds
•     Recreation/Seminar: Hike in the Selva Verde Reserve
•     Seminar: Reserva Curare (history and culture of chocolate in Costa Rica)
•     Seminar: Mesoamerican Biological Corridors. (Critical habitats from southern Mexico and Belize to Panama
•     Accommodation – Dorm/Hotel

Early this morning enjoy an introduction to the amazing tropical birds of Selva Verde which includes over 300 species including Great Tinamou, Violaceous Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Red-lored Parrot. After breakfast, take a hike in Selva Verde's private reserve that consists of 500 acres of primary forest. The reserve and the surrounding forests habitats for over 300 bird species, 120 species of mammals, 48 amphibian species, 89 reptile species, more than 10,000 species of insects, approximately 1,500 species of orchids and 330 species of trees. After lunch, you will have a fun visit to Best Chocolate and the Reserva Curare. The deliciously enriching tour starts in the 2-acre cacao plantation where you will learn all about the cacao plant, its flowers, and pollination. Next you will meet at the Cacao Rancho in the middle of the reserve to learn where chocolate comes from, starting with the fruit to the final product. After watching the processes from seed to cocoa powder you will get to sample fresh made chocolate. After dinner will attend a presentation on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC). Selva Verde is in the MBC, which is an international initiative that links critical habitats from southern Mexico and Belize to Panama in an effort to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable development throughout this ecologically fragile region. This region of Costa Rica's rainforest is important because it is the last remaining area that is the habitat for the endangered Great Green Macaw. Room type – Sarapiqui


Tuesday           06/09/2020                  Sarapiqui                                                          Selva Verde Lodge (BLD)

•     Recreation/Seminar: Early morning nature hike
•     Seminar/Project: Humanitarian Project ‐
•     Recreation: Whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Sarapiquí.
•     Accommodation – Dorm/Hotel

Another bird walk will be available this morning. Following breakfast, participate in a reforestation project at a local farm. Reforestation of native tree species by small farmers helps cement biological corridors and allows local people to benefit from rainforest conservation through sustainable wood production and habitat protection for wildlife of interest to eco tourists, such as the endangered Great Green Macaw. These trees will also play an important role in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Return to lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, take an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Rio Sarapiquí. Rapids range from Class I III. Along the way, you will be able to stop to swim in the river and enjoy some fresh fruit. Room type - Sarapiqui


Wednesday      06/10/2020                  San Jose                                                       Wyndham Herradura (BLD)

•     Seminar: Toucan Rescue Ranch (Care, rehabilitation, and study of Costa Rican toucans and other wildlife) Return to San Jose hotel
•     Semianr: ”Wrap up” and farewell dinner
•     Accommodation – Hotel

This morning you will bid farewell to Selva Verde and head to San Jose. Along the way, you will stop at Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR). TRR focuses on the care, rehabilitation, and study of Costa Rican toucans and other wildlife. They receive and care for confiscated, sick, and injured wildlife from government agencies. They provide a loving home with the goal of providing appropriate medical treatment, rehabilitation and then, when possible return to their natural environment. One of their most popular programs is their sloth project that provides care for orphaned baby sloths and injured adults. After lunch along the way, you will check into your San Jose hotel and have time to relax before attending a trip download session and a farewell dinner. Room type Superior


Thursday        06/11/2020                                                                                                                                      (B)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Check-out from hotel is at 12:00 pm.


Program Size 14 Students
NCHC Member Price $2175 (does not include airfare)
NCHC Nonmember Price $4350 (does not include airfare)
Deadline to Register April 6, 2020









If you have any questions regarding your trip specifically, please contact your trip facilitators listed below. They will be sending you more information regarding what to pack, and any supplies you may need for your trip.


Trip Facilitators

Matt Nickerson, Southern Utah University




For this specific trip, all requests for refunds MUST be submitted in writing to the national office and RECEIVED no later than thirty days in advance of the trip registration deadline date: by March 6, 2020.

  • Received prior to 30 days of registration deadline:          Full refund, less a $50 per person administrative fee
  • Received within 30 days of registration deadline:            No refunds granted


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