Costa Rica Exploradores 1

International Wilderness Adventure and Cross-Cultural Service Project

This expedition includes:

  • Rafting
  • Cross-cultural service project
  • Sea kayaking
  • Surfing
  • Conservation service project

Participating in Deer Hill’s international Summer Search expedition, you’ll spend three weeks immersed in the richness of Costa Rica. You’ll experience its natural beauty rafting the Pacuare River, and hiking in the cloud forest, a dense jungle of incredible biodiversity. During your service project and cultural exchange you’ll work alongside your Tico hosts before canoeing to a Bri Bri village to make chocolate. Finally, you’ll make your way to the Caribbean coast to surf and relax on the beach.

“Deer Hill is exciting, fulfilling, mind-opening, challenging and fun. The people are who I will remember and cherish the most. It made me a better and stronger person. I learned so much about myself.” – Alysha, participant

San José

Days 1-2
Your Deer Hill group leaders meet you at the San José airport and bring you to the hostel where the group spends two nights. These first days in San José are a time for you to meet the members of your group, to take care of last minute preparations, and to adjust to your new surroundings.

Hiking and Rafting in the Cloud Forest

Days 3-5
Your group will hike through El Copal Preserve in the legendary cloudforest where you might catch glimpses of toucans and sloths amidst this lush tropical rainforest. Step up the action when world class river guides take you through the class 2 and 3 rapids of the Rio Pejivalle.

Service and Homestays in a Tico Community

Days 6-9
In pairs, participants stay with individual host families in Tres Equis. During the days, the group will take on a variety of community service projects such as painting the school, refinishing classroom furniture or helping with reforestation projects. When the work is done for the day, participants return to their host families’ homes for traditional meals and Spanish conversation.

Rafting the Pacuare and Service in Bri Bri

Days 10-13
The group rafts the Pacuare River, voted one of the top ten whitewater rivers by National Geographic. The first day of rafting will ease you into it with class 2 and 3 rapids. You’ll have a layover day for more hiking in the rainforest, before finishing the class 4 section of this world-renowned river. For a change of pace, you’ll head up river in motorized canoes to a remote Bri Bri village for a service project with this Costa Rican indigenous community. 

Surfing at the Beach

Days 14 -18
For the final stretch of your expedition in Costa Rica, you’ll hit the beach for surfing and sea kayaking, and camping to the sound of rolling waves. A local ecologist will also guide you to the permaculture farm, Punta Mona Organic Farm, where you’ll eat fresh vegetables from their gardens and harvest exotic fruits.

San José

Days 19-21
For your final two nights,you’ll return to the hostel where you began your expedition. This is a time to take care of last minute details before your return home and to explore Costa Rica’s capitol city. Your Deer Hill group leaders take you to the San José airport to see you off.

High School Juniors*

June 25 – July 15, 2019

21 Days

40 Service Hours

*For questions, call 970-533-7492.

Start and End in San José

The expedition is bookended with time in Costa Rica’s capitol. From Days 1 to 3, participants get to know each other as they pack gear for the first part of their journey. At the end of their expedition, the group returns to San José (Days 19-21) to mare preparations for the trip home and to explore the city.

Transitions between sections occur in the field. The group is in San José only at the beginning and end of the expedition.

Arrival and Departure:

San José Airport (SJO)

Arrive June 25, 11am-3pm; Depart July 15, 6:30-11am



Additional Information

General Information

  • This is a Deer Hill program, run by our own trained and experienced Field Staff that are fluent in Spanish. They meet participants in San Jose, at the airport, and accompany them for the duration of the trip. True to Deer Hill’s mission, the focus is on personal development and group dynamics through wilderness adventure and service opportunities.
  • Deer Hill has been running this program since 2004.
  • Deer Hill works closely with Costa Rica Exploradores Outdoors, a Costa-Rican adventure travel company owned and operated by siblings Miguel, Carolina, and Yency Cabrera.
  • Deer Hill field staff working in Costa Rica are able to contact a Deer Hill manager-on-duty 24 hours a day for guidance, support, or in the event of emergency.


  • Each participant is paired with another of the same sex for homestays in Tres Equis. At least one of them will be proficient in Spanish in order to help each other communicate with the host family.
  • Some participants are anxious about the homestay prior to their trip, but according to their feedback at the end of the program, this section is the favorite and most memorable part of the trip for almost all participants.
  • Deer Hill Field Staff will be amongst the students and easily available.
  • When in the Bri Bri community, participants camp and prepare food together with their Field Staff.


The program begins when Deer Hill Field Staff meet participants at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. A valid passport is required to enter Costa Rica. The cost of the program does not include the flight to and from Costa Rica.

The homestay meant a lot to me because our family really wanted us there. They cared for us, were sweet and generous. They made me feel at home and like it meant something to them that we were there.

Erin, participant