LEAF International Cultural Expedition - Costa Rica 
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Expedition: LEAF International: Costa Rica

Dates: Wednesday, November 1st – Thursday, November 9th, 2017, with optional extension till November 14th

Price: $985 (Land Only) + $200 for Cabécar trek extension option
Quote valid until: 
Sept 30, 2017 while spaces remain

$300 Deposit Due:  Upon Registration

Remaining Balance due:  Sept 30, 2017


Minimum and Maximum Number of Participants: A minimum of 10 travelers is required to operate this trip, and the trip will be capped at a maximum of 15 travelers.  Should the trip be cancelled for lack of sign-ups, deposit and all monies paid will be refunded.


Receipt of deposit and registration prior to the registration deadline will confirm space and contracted price. After this date, contracted pricing may change due to increase in costs associated with airfare, lodging, or other associated costs. Please contact Discovery Expeditions for updated pricing if contract has expired. Contracted prices are based on a limit of 15 travelers.  Click below to register and save your spot.  For more details of the vision for the trip, the itinerary, and what is included in the trip price, read below.

LEAF International: Costa Rica Expedition Overview 

LEAF and Discovery Expeditions are partnering to offer members of the LEAF community the opportunity visit LEAF International programs with indigenous communities of Costa Rica. Your participation in this trip will raise both awareness and funds in support of LI’s programs, and while taking on the role of a “LEAF Ambassador” you and your fellow travelers will be fulfilling LEAF’s goal of “connecting cultures and creating community through music and arts.”

As you might imagine as a LEAF festival-goer, this trip is not your typical package tour that you’ll find on the internet. You’ll spend more time among indigenous communities than you will on the beach or in rain forest preserves (though we’ve built those stops in as well). And while we won’t be camping like at LEAF, lodging will be rustic and unique, and you should look forward to the shared amenities (rooms, bunks, bathrooms & meals) as opportunities for community with your fellow LEAF travelers. Couples and families are welcome, though private lodging cannot be guaranteed. We also realize traveling with a group on a schedule can make it hard to create more intimate cultural engagement, so where possible, we’ve build in flexible time to explore on your own.

To learn more about LEAF International’s programs and get a better idea of who you’ll be supporting and what you’ll see and do, visit their program pages online:

Costa Rica: LI supports three programs in Costa Rica: 1) Bribri First Nation near the Caribbean and southern side of the country, 2) Ngabe First Nation also in the south but on the Pacific side, and 3) Cabécar First Nation in the remote central highlands. All programs empower local teaching artists to preserve and promote their threatened traditions and language in their community.

LEAF International: Costa Rica Itinerary 2017

NOTE: Details below are subject to adaptation as more specifics are worked out on the ground.

The price of this trip is LAND only, meaning it is the responsibility of each registered traveler to arrange their own air transportation to San Jose, Costa Rica from their airport and airline of choice. First nights lodging in San Jose will be arranged for you; you only have to get yourself there by the evening of November 1st so as to be ready to begin activities and experiences with the LEAF group the morning of November 2nd. The trip officially ends on November 9th, however there is the option to extend your trip and participate in a trek with Cabécar shaman and teaching artist Luis Quetzal to visit his home community in Alto Chirripo. Anyone is also welcome to choose flights to extend their personal visit before or after the dates of the LI trip, and travel on their own to experience more of the region.

Day 1: (Wednesday, November 1st) Flight to SJO

Travel on own to meet at San Jose Hotel: Hostel Casa del Parque. Depending the time of your arrival, visit the Gold Museum, National Museum or local sites on own. Rendezvous with the rest of the LEAF Ambassador team for a welcome dinner.

Lodging: Hostel Casa del Parque (506) 2233 3437. Address: 19th street, between 1st and 3rd avenues, San Jose, Costa Rica

Day 2: (Thursday, November 2nd) San Jose Sites and Costa Rica Cultural Orientation

Morning relax and orientation. Breakfast on own. Visit indigenous craft market Galeria Namu. Lunch on own. Pedestrian mall, National Theater, Plazas and Main Cathedral. Afternoon: guided tour of one of Museums of Jade and Gold with Luis Porras, Director of LEAF International’s Costa Rica partner, Proyecto Jirondai. Dinner and Indigenous Cultural presentation with Luis. (Meet and greet, performance with Alexis Rodriguez, LEAF International teaching artist with the Ngabe First Nation. Possibly other Proyecto Jirondai members).

Day 3: (Friday, November 3rd) San Jose – Puerto ViejoCRtalamanca

Breakfast at Hostel Casa del Parque. Private Transportation to Puerto Viejo, Talamanca (5 hours). Stop en route to visit “Cacao South” the French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s partner farm and fermentary. Eat lunch. Check-in at Rocking J’s hostel (2 nights). Bus dismissed. Afternoon visits to Playa Colces or more time in Puerto Viejo. Dinner at Rocking J’s and Evening orientation and preparation for creative culture exchange with LEAF International’s programs in Bribri First Nation.

Lodging: Rocking J’s Hostel & Cabinas: (506) 2750 0665 Address: 70601 Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (500 meters South of main intersection).

Day 4: (Saturday, November 4th) Puerto Viejo, Talamanca

Optional sunrise yoga on beach at Playa Colces. Breakfast at Rocking J’s.

Morning shuttle visit to Wildlife preserve at Manzanillo. Lunch at Punta Uva. Open afternoon for optional activities: Surfing at Playa Colces, Dinner on own in Puerto Viejo.

Day 5: (Sunday, November 5th) Puerto Viejo - Bribri Nation, Amubri

Breakfast at Rocking J’s. Depart for Suretka river crossing. Cross river in motor canoes and catch shuttle to Amubri (3 hours travel & connection time) Lunch at Koswak Lodge.

Orientation to Amubri, visit LEAF International sponsored radio station and local cultural school. Opportunity to visit the local store for supplies. Dinner and Lodging at Koswak Lodge (3 nights) Evening presentation on Bribri culture.

Lodging: Koswak Lodge (506) 8526 0166 Amubri, Costa Rica (3 nights)

CRkoswakDay 6: (Monday, November 6th) Amubri

Breakfast at Koswak Lodge

Visit to Conical House and Awa, medicinal garden, local artisans. Visit LEAF International Teaching Artist, Jairo, at his home and attend his drumming class. Lunch at Koswak. Walk to river / swimhole for cooling off. Afternoon free time. Dinner at Koswak.

Day 7: (Tuesday, November 7th) Amubri

Breakfast at Koswak. Meet with local Awa (shaman). Afternoon: Student exchange activity at local school. Evening cultural exchange and performance: music and dance with open participation from LEAF ambassadors and the Bribri community.

Day 8: (Wednesday, November 8th) Amubri – San Jose

Breakfast at Koswak Lodge. Local transportation across river to Suretka, Private Transportation to San Jose. Lunch on own en route at Cajuita beach. Depending on return flights, we will either drop you off at the airport for your evening departure or drop you off at the San Jose Hotel for you to catch your departure the next day. Costa Rica bus dismissed. (5 hours total drive time). Closing farewell dinner in San Jose.

Lodging: Hostel Casa del Parque (506) 2233 3437. Address: 19th street, between 1st and 3rd avenues, San Jose, Costa Rica (1 night)

Notes: If wanting to depart this day, flight must leave after 9pm in order to allow yourself enough travel time and check-in time. Otherwise, it’s best to fly out the next day.

Day 9: (Thursday, November 9th) San Jose Departure

Depending flight times and dates, enjoy more sites and activities in San Jose. People with similar or same departure times can share taxis to the airport. People who decide to extend their stay in Costa Rica are free to travel on to their next destination, or arrange to stay more nights at Casa del Parque.

Optional Extension into Cabécar Indigenous Community (November 8 – 14, 2017)

For a truly unique and rare experience, you can extend your experience by visiting LEAF International teaching artist and shaman Luis Quetzal’s home community of Alto Chirripo deep in the Cabécar First Nation. Luis’s community, including his students whom he teaches native songs, medicine and traditions is located the remote central highlands of Costa Rica; the isolation serving as cultural protector and incubator, not linked to the modern world via roads nor electricity.

This alternate extension begins when part ways with the LEAF crew at Turrialba, and the other continue on back to San Jose. After taking a 4x4 taxi as far as the road allows, the journey on foot starts requiring a 22 mile trek from the nearest road / vehicle access, up the Chirripo river valley to Alto Chirripo, most likely split between over 2 days. We will then stay 2 nights at Luis’s home, meeting his family and his students, observing his classes, and eating amply off the land. We make the return trip eventually back to Turrialba arriving San Jose by the 14th to catch flights back home.

For a summary of this journey and what Luis does in his community through LEAF’s support, please watch this docu-summary of LEAF ambassador and trail-blazer Isaiah Mosteller’s journey to Alto Chirripo in 2016:

Trip Inclusions & Exclusions:

Discovery Expeditions agrees to provide each of the following goods and services for the duration of the tour to each participant traveling with LEAF International:

  • Professional General Liability and Errors and Omissions Insurance Policy ($5,000,000)
  • Private bus transportation and driver for long drives between San Jose and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
  • Accommodations in shared facilities on site (7 nights total) – San Jose Casa del Parque (3 nights), Rocking J’s Hostel Talamanca (2 nights), Koswak Lodge – Amubri (3 nights)
  • Custom designed itinerary
  • Entrance fees to all program sites and activities listed on the itinerary
  • Demonstrations and from LEAF International teaching artists and students
  • Opportunities for free time on the beach (Talamanca, Costa Rica) and city exploration (San Jose)
  • Full time Professional Discovery Expeditions tour escort (Isaiah Mosteller) and local interpreter and cultural guide (Luis Porras, Proyecto Jirondai)
  • All meals as indicated on the itinerary (meals that are part of free time are on own)
  • All taxes
  • All gratuities (tour leader and driver included)
  • Complete tour participant accounting including option to pay by credit card
  • Optional Comprehensive Accident, Medical, Liability, and Travel Protection/Cancellation/Interruption Insurance for the Land portion of the trip

Not included in the trip price:

  • Airfare and baggage fees (to be purchased at the discretion and responsibility of each participant)
  • Customs and immigration fees at airports or border crossings
  • Airport transfer to first night hotel (we will try to collect flight information from each traveler in an effort to help you share taxis with similar arrival times)
  • Various meals or drinks listed as “on own” in the itinerary when the group is dispersed for self-exploration
  • Additional nights lodging or any additional days if one chooses to remain in country longer.

To get a taste of what you'll experience on this trip, check out the video produced from our innaugural LEAF International expedition: