Next to Courses and Workshops the INEX Summer University in Costa Rica also includes thematically fitting excursions and visits, social activities and weekend travel. Below please find examples of such activities below.
Banana Plantation, Caribbean culture and Cahuita National Park
Where do our exotic fruits come from? How are bananas harvested? What about the ecological and social impact and regulations for exports abroad…? These questions (and many more) will addressed directly to the management of a local banana plantation on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Participants will go through the field and examine all facilities, talk to works and staff on site – and find out why hardly any Costa Ricans are consuming bananas themselves.
The next two days will be spent in the Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, where students can will have time to think and refresh on the long beach. One full day will be given to visit of Cahuita National Park, which was formed to protect one of the last living reefs in Costa Rica, endangered by sedimentation from expanding banana plantations and deforestation in the Talamanca Mountains. It is a great place to spot howler and white faced Capuchin Monkeys, as well as to explore a small reef where brain coral, Venus sea fans, and a variety species of tropical fish are commonly spotted. Scientists have counted 35 species of coral in these warm waters.
Arenal Volcano, Rainforest and Canopy Ride
Volcán Arenal is breathtaking. It is said to be the most active volcano in Central America and belongs to the 10 most active ones worldwide. It booms and rumbles with an unnerving consistency and its nocturnal pyrotechnics have struck awe in the hearts of thousands of observers. With its perfectly conical shape and its continuing activity, Arenal is a picture book image of a volcano. Daily ash columns, underground rumbling, glowing red lava flows and sudden explosions make Arenal a must-see on every Costa Rica visit and are a constant reminder of nature’s forces around our habitats.
The majestic Lake Arenal near the famous volcano is the largest lake in Costa Rica. It was enlarged three times to its actual size of 85.5km (33 sq. miles) during a hydroelectric project (that we have also visited in previous programs). Through the Lake Arenal Dam 70% of Costa Rica’s electricity is obtained. It’s unique combination of warm fresh water, steady and strong winds and spectacular scenery now enjoys a world class reputation amongst windsurfers and sailboarder.
The area around Arenal is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding wildlife refuges in the New World Tropics, extremely rich with birds, insects, butterfly, and thousands of plants. The Canopy tour, in which you traverse the cloud forest through cables and zip lines, is an adventurous tour that elevates adrenaline to the maximum and shows you the beauty of Costa Rican jungle from a perspective never experienced before.
Manuel Antonio National Park and the Pacific Coast
The charming combination of rainforest, beaches and coral reefs makes the Manuel Antonio national park one of the most beautiful areas in the country, offering an abundant diversity of wildlife and a varying fauna. Manuel Antonio, which was declared a national park in 1972, is the natural habitat of species such as the endangered squirrel monkey (endemic to the area), white faced capuchin monkey, raccoons, three and two-toed sloths, white-nosed coaties, brown pelicans, black-collared hawks and green kingfishers. They share the space with primary and secondary forests, bursting with cedars, bully trees, black locusts and silk cotton trees. After intensive weeks participants will spend the last days of the program in this paradisiacal location and be able to evaluate the (touristic) development of the area through a multi-stakeholder perspective.
Coffee was brought to Costa Rica during the late eighteenth century. Its arrival was discrete, but definite. Coffee cultivation expanded slowly throughout the Central Valley. It was in 1843, when a group of visionary exporters undertook the complex task of exporting coffee directly to London and started to make Costa Rican coffee world famous. Soon, the growing and trading of coffee changed the face of Costa Rica. The country was modernized and young Costa Rican intellectuals could now continue their studies in Europe and return as doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs contributing to the improvement of Costa Ricans’ lifestyle. In 1890 the first railroad to the Atlantic Coast was built and the inauration of the National Theater was about to develop the Costa Ricans’ awareness for their own cultural roots.
Through a visit to a coffee plantation participants will get to know about history, economic and social importance of coffee in Costa Rica. The visit will also show you how coffee is grown and give students an insight into organic farming. Back in class this will serve as a basis for further discussions.
White Water Rafting at Pacuare river is a safe but wild adventure. With untamed waters, tropical beauty and mostly untouched wilderness this is an outstanding excursion and a great chance to see the beautiful nature of Costa Rica from another side – while paddling hard and trying not to fall into the warm water. Also – this day trip is our preferred group exercise and bonding event… Once you have jointly managed to navigate your rafts down the river you will be well-prepared for other group work coming up at University and beyond.
Learning classic and modern Latin dances (like the Raeggeton) is a great cultural experience. Therefore, dancing the Salsa, Merengue and Bachata is something one should not miss when coming to Latin America. At the dancing school of Tibás-Olé students get the real feeling of dancing to Latin rhythms as they are taught by experienced professional dancers. While you swing your hips and shake your shoulders you will get a lot closer to feel like a Latina/o. And of course it is great fun, especially if you like to go out at night and mingle with the locals.
Accommodation with Host Families
While participating in the INEX Summer University you will get the chance to actively integrate yourself into this new culture and live the Latin American way of life for several weeks. You have the opportunity to live with a well chosen “Tico” family and become part of it. They not only provide our students with good housing, they also prepare typical Costa Rican food and help you to improve your Spanish language skills. Already after your first day in Costa Rica, you will see that the “Ticos” are very friendly and open-minded and help you with everything they can. Next to the academic program and the extensive social program, staying with host families has always been the most-liked part of the ISU Costa Rica.