Once you are accepted to your program of choice, you will receive the Live the Osa Handbook, which will provide you will extensive details necessary for your experience. In the meantime, you should learn as much as possible about Costa Rica. It is truly an amazing country. With wonderful people, beautiful landscapes and bountiful nature. It is a place you don't just go to once. Use your guidebook or the Internet to gain as much background information as possible before arrival. The more you know, the more you can immerse yourself into this country and culture.
There are several guidebooks on the market. I recommend The Lonely Planet, which gives an excellent overview of the country, people and culture, as well as suggestions for hotels, restaurants and things to do! Recommended websites include:
Costa Rica, located in Central America, is truly an amazing country. With wonderful people, beautiful landscapes and bountiful nature, it is a place you don't just go to once. Use your guidebook or the Internet to gain as much background information as possible before arrival. The more you know, the more you can immerse yourself into this rich country and culture.
According to National Geographic Society, the Osa Peninsula is considered "The final frontier on Earth and the most biologically intense place on the planet". Home of Corcovado National Park, the Peninsula is the "off-the-beaten track" tourist destination, with breathtaking views of primary rainforest leading to white-sand beaches. The two largest towns on the Peninsula are Drake Bay (Northern end) and Puerto Jimenez (Southern end).
Puerto Jimenez, with a population of about 2000, is considered the largest town on the Peninsula. Although it is only comprised of one main street with a few unpaved side roads, the town has supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, an elementary and high school, a health clinic, a pharmacy, banks, tour operators, a bus stop, an airport, a public boat dock, and most anything you need. However, it is a small town, isolated from the rest of the country, and you will get to know people quickly.
There are several small villages out of town in both directions along the coast. The road out of town to the North is paved and excellent for biking. El Ceibo (Live the Osa homestay / lodging) is located in the small community of Ñeque and takes about 10 minutes by bike from Puerto Jimenez. Other nearby villages with internship options include Bambú, Gallardo, Sándalo and Cañaza.
San José, the capital, is comprised of several "barrios" or neighborhoods. It is located in the Central Valley, either a 1 hour flight to Puerto Jimenez, or a 7 hour bus ride (see Travel section for more information). You will fly to the international airport, Juan Santamaría, which is in Alejuela, about 30 minutes from downtown San José. There are some interesting things to see in and around San José, but I do not recommend it for longer stays and I do not recommend walking around the city alone or after dark. Please see your guidebook for more information. Live the Osa offers a homestay and/or personal guide in San José, as well as a "trusted" taxi driver. (See Travel section)
Individual travelers are responsible for getting to Puerto Jimenez on their own. Group travelers are responsible for arriving to San José International Airport on their own.
Once your reservations are confirmed, it is important to give all your information to Helaine and she will coordinate taxi pick-ups.
Once you have chosen your dates, you should look into airline tickets. Prices vary dramatically depending on the time of year. You want to fly into San José (SJO), Juan Santamaría Airport. Be sure to double-check your arrival city.
Upon arrival in San José, you will be met by our recommended taxi driver. Depending on your arrival time, it is possible to do the whole trip to the Osa on the same day. Remember to leave enough time to get through customs and across town to the bus station or domestic airport.
Nature Air and SANSA are the two domestic Costa Rican airlines. Live the Osa only recommends Nature Air. Ticket reservations can be made online. Discounts are often made if you have set dates and make the reservations in advance. The Nature Air airport is called Pavas and the flight to Puerto Jimenez is about 45 minutes.
The public bus takes about 7 hours and although it is much less expensive than flying, it is not as safe. I do not recommend that females take the bus alone. The bus may be a better option for your return, once you know the people and culture. The bus stop is in a dangerous section of San José, so please have our taxi driver assist you. The busses leave San José at 8am and 12pm and you should arrive at the bus stop at least 30 minutes ahead of time to get a ticket. See Guidebook for details.
You can read more about San José in the Info about Costa Rica section, as well as a Guidebook. If your flight times require that you stay in the city overnight, I recommend having a reservation in advance.
The best and safest option for San José, is to stay with a Live the Osa recommended host family. They will meet you at the airport, make you all necessary meals, take you on a tour of the city, give you a private room in their home, and take you to the airport or bus station the next day. Prices vary depending on arrival and departure times. Reservations are made through Helaine at firstname.lastname@example.org and payment is made directly to the host family upon arrival.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, I recommend the following:
Live the Osa's top priority is health and safety. Upon acceptance, you will receive a "Handbook" explaining the details of how to prevent health and safety issues, as well as what to do in case of an emergency. Upon arrival in Puerto Jimenez, Marlene, your "host mom", will also give an extensive orientation about health and safety issues in the area. She will also assist all interns with any issues at anytime. Please see Acknowledgement of Risks and Release of Liability form.
911 exists in Costa Rica and should be used in case of emergency. Other important phone numbers are in the Handbook and you should carry a copy of that page with you at all times. If you are in the Osa, contact 911 and Marlene or go directly to the health clinic in town. Costa Rica has social health care and everyone is treated without charge (however, sometimes a donation is asked of foreigners). Puerto Jimenez has a clinic (small hospital), and more severe cases are transported to Golfito Hospital (a 30 minutes boat ride across the Gulf) or directly to San Jose (45 min flight). San Jose has public and private hospitals. I recommend both Clinica Biblica and CIMA as excellent private hospitals. Detailed information is in the Handbook.
As part of the application process, you will be required to check with your insurance company on if and how coverage works in Costa Rica. Every company has different policies. Before you leave the U.S., you will be required to send me the detailed information for health insurance coverage, as well as evacuation policies. Failure to have proper coverage could delay your trip.
Several interns purchase additional travel health insurance. There are several companies that sell short-term travel policies at affordable rates. I recommend STA Travel.
The Handbook has all necessary contact information and a copy of Marlene's phone number in Costa Rica and Helaine's phone numbers in the U.S. should be left with your emergency contact, along with instructions on how to call Costa Rica. We will do everything possible to put family members or friends in contact and help plan necessary logistics.
Most issues are related to the change in food, water and climate. Stomach aches are common during the first few weeks and can be treated yourself with Pepto-bismol or tea. Headaches are also common and usually can be remedied with lots of water. Dehydration can occur quickly in this climate. Let Marlene know if you do not feel well and consult a doctor at the pharmacy if symptoms last.
No vaccinations are required to enter Costa Rica. However, we do recommend prior to departure that you talk to your doctor about recommendations. The most up-to-date vaccination information can be found on the Center for Disease Control website or by consulting a travel doctor.
Road accidents: Costa Ricans are not known for their safety record on the road. Please use common sense when getting into someone else's car or taxi and use a seatbelt even if they don't. As a biker or pedestrian, be aware that cars have the right of way. Stay on the side of the road and always wear a helmet. Your bike and helmet will be provided upon arrival and are included in the program cost.
Harassment: Female travelers especially should do some research on this topic. It is common for Costa Rican males to whistle or cat call, and as annoying as this can be, they are harmless if ignored. The more attention you give them, the more you will get back. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, remove yourself immediately and let Marlene know. Interns should always be cautious, use common sense and not be "overly trusting" of the locals. Marlene can give you excellent "local" advice on making friends.
Theft & Crime: Puerto Jimenez is a small town with little crime, however theft does occur. Again, use common sense, air on the side of caution, and ask Marlene if you are not sure about something or someone. There is a police station in town, but mostly the townspeople look out for each other. You should carry a copy of your passport, a copy of your health insurance card and the phone number list with you at all times. Keep your actual passport in the lockbox at Marlene's house.
This is the question I get asked the most! Yes, there are snakes and insects, but they are not easy to see. It is rare to see a snake of any kind, as they are just as afraid of humans as humans are of them. Most snakes found in the Osa are non-venomous, however some species of venomous snakes do live there. In general, snakes will rarely bite unless provoked, trodden on or grabbed so it is important to follow the guidelines regarding wearing closed-toes shoes at night and always using a flashlight.
Insects are more abundant than snakes, however they are not life-threatening (unless you have an allergy). Mosquitoes, ants and spiders exist but can easily be avoided by following simple safety measures such as wearing repellent and using the provided mosquito nets over the beds. It is also important to keep food out of your bedroom, wear closed-toed shoes in the grassy areas and ask Marlene or Luis about the different insects (many of them do not sting and will not bother you).
All toiletries can be bought in Puerto Jimenez, so you only need to bring enough for travel days.
__Toothpaste and toothbrush
__Comb / brush
__Shampoo and conditioner
__Contacts and solution / glasses (with extras) hard to find in town
__Sun Screen (30+ SPF) higher numbers are hard to find in town
__Bug repellent hard to find in town
These items are not always available in Puerto Jimenez so bring extra if prone to use.__Tylenol / Advil