Travel to Costa Rica

In the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is a nation of inspiring people who have built the longest standing democracy in Latin America. This small territory that only encompasses 0.03% of the planet’s surface is home to nearly 5% of the Earth’s biodiversity. Costa Ricans pride themselves in their healthy, peaceful and sustainable lifestyle, which they call “Pura Vida.” These words have become a true identifier for the nation’s vision and a welcoming message to all those ready to discover what Costa Rica has to offer.


Arenal Volcano

Positioned within Costa Rica’s fertile northern lowlands, the Arenal Volcano is an unavoidable presence while traveling within this part of the country. It is tall and imposing and has a reputation that precedes itself. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape makes it a sightseer’s dream, while its abundance of outdoor activities makes it an easy place to check things off your “must-do in Costa Rica” list.


Costa rica Whale Tail

Nature works in mysterious ways. And one really interesting oddity of nature is the so called whale tail that juts into the Pacific Ocean on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. This giant rock and sand formation not only has the distinct shape of a whale’s tail, but is located in the exact spot where hundreds of humpback whales congregate each year. In this post, we’ll let you know how to see this famed whale beacon for yourself.

ABOUT Costa Rica

What 3 things is Costa Rica known for?

Costa Rica is famous for its incredible natural wonders, rich biodiversity, aromatic coffee, and progressive government. It is home to some of the most beautiful rainforests, beaches, and mountains in the world. Costa Rica is also known for its beautiful beaches, Pura Vida lifestyle as well as delicious food.

Many species of wildlife
Volcanic formations
Land in conservation

Our Courses

Advanced Primate Behavior and Ecology, May 12 - 31.
The Advanced Primate Behavior and Ecology course is designed for graduate students seeking rigorous fieldwork experiences for master’s projects or doctoral pilot studies. Conducted in Camaquiri Conservation Initiative, Costa Rica, the program offers an academically focused exploration of primate behavioral ecology. Participants will engage in an independent research project under the supervision of our renowned Primatologist Dr. Jill Pruetz.
Tropical Ornithology , June 22 - July 6.
Costa Rica is a small country, approximately the size of West Virginia, lying between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Within this relatively small area (0.03% of the Earth’s surface) 5% of Earth’s total biodiversity can be found including almost 10% of the world’s bird species. At our primary destination, The Camaquiri Conservation Initiative (CCI), more species of birds have been seen (278) then breed in Pennsylvania (see species list @ We can expect to see over 200 species of birds on this tour. This amazing diversity derives from a complicated geography which influences climatic factors that permit nearly every type of tropical habitat to exist in Costa Rica from coastal mangrove swamps to windswept mountain summits where frost occurs on occasion.The country is divided by a mountainous spine into Pacific and Caribbean slopes. We will visit lowland (Camaquiri) and mid-elevation (Arenal) sites on the Caribbean Slope, a high elevation site bordering the Central Valley (Parc Naciónal Volcan Poas) and dry forest on the Pacific slope (El Rinconcito Lodge/Parc Naciónal Rincon de la Vieja). Each location/elevation has its own characteristic bird Community. The itinerary is designed to see species from a variety of habitats that will provide examples and a backdrop to learning about their ecology, behavior and conservation during informal lectures and discussions. The course is designed for college students or anyone with a keen interest in birds.
Tropical Herpetology, 14 July - 3 August.
This course covers the biology of the herpetofauna of Costa Rica with a focus on the diversity, ecology and behavior of species found in the northeastern lowlands. Brief lectures on the biology of each of the groups of amphibians and reptiles will be provided along with more general information on the evolution and biogeographic history of the region. Students will be required to learn to identify local amphibian and reptile species using dichotomous keys in conjunction with basic field characters and will devise and conduct a brief field study of their own. They will present the results of their study to the rest of the class. There will be practical exams and written exams as well as a write-up of the field study. Course duration, 21 days. Students should expect rigorous trail experiences in all weather. The course will take place primarily at the Camaquiri Conservation Initiative property and will include visits to Barra del Colorado and one or two other locations. Required texts: Leenders, T. 2016. Amphibians of Costa Rica. Zona Tropical Press. Cornell University,Ithaca, NY.
Primate Behavior and Ecology, August 1 - 21.
This course on primate behavior and ecology is taught at the Camaquiri Conservation Initiative site in northeastern Costa Rica ( ). Students will learn basic aspects of primate behavior and ecology through lectures and will learn techniques of behavioral observation and ecological measurement via group exercises. They will apply this knowledge to independent research projects on one of the three primate species occurring at Camaquiri and will present their findings at the end of the course. Bio: Dr. Kaelyn Dobson, is a field primatologist focusing on the gut microbiome, behavior and conservation of primates of the Americas. Kaelyn has previously worked with primates in captive zoological (Texas, Alabama USA), in-situ rehabilitation (Panama, Costa Rica), zoological educational (Florida USA) and field research (Panama, Peru, South Africa, Swaziland, Costa Rica) roles. Current dissertation research focuses on the influences of captive housing and management protocols on the gut microbiome of squirrel monkeys with a Costa Rican wild comparative. Future work will expand upon the importance of the gut microbiome in an ecosystem based OneHealth long term project.
Tropical Biology, August 1 - 21.
This course in Tropical Biology is taught at the Camaquiri Conservation Initiative site in northeastern Costa Rica ( Camaquiri’s unique ecosystem of lowland tropical forest will be your classroom. The studies you will conduct during the course will start you on the path to becoming a successful tropical biologist, as well as enabling you to add valuable contributions to ongoing studies that help inform our understanding of tropical ecosystems. The summer course in tropical biology is fast-paced and will engage you in some of the most critical issues facing tropical biodiversity and ecosystems today. During the three-weeks of the course, you will study at the Camaquiri Conservation Initiative site in northeastern Costa Rica, giving you access to lowland wet forests. Through lectures and conducting your own research project, you will become familiar with the natural history of this diverse site and engage in research under the mentorship of experienced tropical biology researchers. We will also have the opportunity to visit other habitat zones in Costa Rica, offering students a broad perspective on the diverse, tropical ecosystems that make Costa Rica so special.


Costa Rica





What a great trip. Thank you to Israel Mesen for all your knowledge and bringing us to such beautiful wildlife filled places!

Robin Hirsch Hacobson

When our tour guide challenged me to a fun "photo contest" since I had won the company photo contest back in 2019 with my photo of a red-eyed treefrog, I didn't know what photo I would choose. I scrolled through the many photos I had taken, trying to find what I felt was my best shot. Finally, I saw this one and was instantly sold. This takes the cake as one of my favorite shots from the trip, and definitely one of my favorites of all time.Oh! I also won a beer with it. Parachuting Red Eyed Leaf Frog (Agalychnis saltator).

Tianna Johnson

I have long admired and appreciated Israel Mesen for his genuine commitment to improving communities in Costa Rica. I am proud to consider him an amigo and to be a partner with him in the Camaquiri Conservation Initiative.

Diane White Husic