Special to The Tribune
The Education First Tour to Costa Rica during spring break was an amazing experience! We had four moms join their sons on the tour which made this a really special experience for them.
Ten boys from Columneetza, two girls from Williams Lake Secondary School and one girl from Thompson Rivers University along with eight adults got to travel through this extraordinary country.
We travelled with some students and their teachers from the Kootenays and Burnaby.
On our first day we visited the INBioparque — a biologically diverse area with different ecosystems as well as iguanas, sloths, turtles, deer, birds, and a butterfly sanctuary.
Then it was off to the Poas Volcano high up in the mountains — one of the largest volcanic craters in the world!
We kayaked and swam in Arenal Lake, hiked down to the bottom of a waterfall and swam in the refreshing water and then relaxed our muscles in the 15 different hot springs that are heated by the nearby volcano!
Our tour director, Ricardo, was lots of fun and so knowledgeable.
He explained about the ecosystems in this very diverse land and knew everything about the plants, and wildlife.
We all returned to Canada with a deeper understanding of how plants and animals co-exist and how the tropical rainforest differs from the cloud forest.
Our bus driver Kenneth stunned us with his driving skills on the windy mountain roads and especially on the narrow bridge that he was able to navigate with just inches to spare.
The food was amazing and very healthy — fresh fruits, salads, rice, beans, fish and meats.
Watermelon, papaya, and pineapple juices were so refreshing after our active days.
We drove high into the mountains to Monteverde and visited an elementary school where we were treated to children dancing in brightly coloured costumes and then played soccer with the children.
We also went to a high school and planted trees native to the area. The students learn about agriculture and farming and have cows, ducks, pigs, and chickens at their school.
Then it was up to Santa Elena Cloud Forest where the clouds brush the tops of the mountains and a soft mist fills the air. We all soared through the air on 12 separate zip lines, the longest of which was one kilometre.
The views were amazing as we flew through the sky and we were able to see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean. Most of the students also took part in the Tarzan swing where they leaped off a high platform and swung way out over the tree canopy. What a rush! (even for us chickens who watched from the ground).
We took a river cruise through the mangroves and saw well over 20 different species of birds including the Blue Heron, Motmot, Frigate, and Scarlet Macaw. The crocodiles were plentiful and we spotted many basking in the sun or laying in the shallows relaxing.
Jose, our guide, jumped into the river and enticed a croc to come over for a snack of raw chicken. We watched in horror as the croc slithered over and jumped into the air for a feed of chicken. The scars on Jose’s legs told the story of a croc from the past that had preferred to munch on him.
Then it was onto the Pacific Coast and Manuel Antonio National Park.
We spotted many sloths (both three-toed and two-toed), monkeys (howler, white faced and squirrel), bats, and birds of many feathers.
Then we spent a few hours swimming in the ocean and enjoying the white sand beach. The sun was hot and we had a few very red students when we finally pulled ourselves away from this beautiful paradise.
Our final night was back in San Jose before departing for the cold, white north of our homes in Canada.
Truly a beautiful, adventurous, safe place to experience the wonders of our world. We all would love to return to this great country again.
Next spring break we will be going to China for another EF tour which will take us to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the Great Wall. We will take a rickshaw ride, cook a traditional Chinese dinner with a family, and visit the Jade Buddha Temple among many other wonderful adventures. A trip of a lifetime — if you are interested in joining this educational tour please contact Sharon Smith at Columneetza school.
The summer trip is also outstanding as we spend 23 days touring from London, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. See all the highlights of Western Europe.
Great value on these student oriented trips — you are welcome to join us if you can keep up with this fast-paced, energetic tour.