Cartago, Costa Rica

A worldwide leader in eco-tourism, Costa Rica is recognized for its rich biodiversity while also well known for its warm and welcoming people who live by the expression ‘Pura Vida.’  Cartago, once the former capital, is conveniently located just 20 minutes southeast of San Jose and 45 minutes from the airport.  Cartago is picturesque town that is easy for groups to navigate and explore on foot as many of the city landmarks such as the Basilica and Central Plaza are located within walking distance from the home-base.  Many of the schools we work with are located rurally in the adjacent Orosi Valley.   Irazu Volcano and Tapanti National Park are also located in close proximity and offer amazing day excursions.  Cartago and the surrounding valleys enjoy springtime weather year-round.

For Squads of five or more students traveling with an adult-chaperone(s) choose any available week throughout the year to embark on your custom group adventure!  

For individual students or small groups traveling without an adult-chaperone, join one of our fully staffed one, two, three, or four-week sessions on any of the start dates below and you’ll be sharing your experience with a group of your peers, all ages 14-18.  Costa Rica Summer 2018 Start Dates for Individual Enrollment:  June 23 (Global Education), July 7 (Global Education), July 21 (Global Health)

The Home-Base

The Home-Base is located in a quaint and peaceful suburban area that is a short walk from the bustling city of Cartago.  The historic center, grocery stores, bakeries, banks, and markets are a short walk away. The renovated house, once a small school, has been transformed with nine bedrooms accommodating four to eight volunteers in each.  It includes a hangout area with hammocks, common reading room, dining room, and kitchen.  There are gender specific bathrooms located on each end of the facility with multiple stall toilets and showers. There is also wireless internet access available in the Home-Base. Delicious meals are provided by local cooks and include typical local dishes such as gallo pinto, a breakfast combination of rice and beans and eggs.  Enjoy lots of fresh fruit and juices such as cas, passion fruit, mango, pineapple, or cantaloupe juice. The food is great for volunteers who are vegetarians.

In-Country Staff

Cross-Cultural Solutions’ local staff designs and runs each program; the staff will make you feel at home acting like a second family during your stay and helping you better understand the culture. They help facilitate your placement and activities and are always available to handle any questions that may arise. 

Costa Rica Country Director, Jose Hernández, was born and raised in San Carlos. He has a great deal of experience in international development as he has worked with the University of Costa Rica’s International Programs Department, the Foreign Service Foundation for Peace and Democracy, and the Close-Up Found in Washington DC.   He serves as Director of Public Relations and as a Protocol Official for the United Nations Conference on the Environment.  


We partner with many under-served schools and social service organizations in the greater Cartago province.  Partners include:

Clemente Avendano School

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Coris Elementary School

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Rio Regado Elementary School

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Loiza Elementary School

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Juco Elementary School

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Manos de Jesus Elderly Center

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The Cultural Activities

Each weekday afternoon our professional staff guide the group on Cultural & Learning Activities in the local area.  In Costa Rica these activities include, but are not limited to, an in-depth orientation, guided walking tour of Cartago and the local market, dance lessons at a local university facility, cooking lessons at the home-base, Irazu Volcano tour, Tapanti National Park and waterfall hike, La Carpintera zip-line (additional cost) , and Spanish language classes.

The Weekend Excursions (optional add-on packages)

On the weekends your group may choose to explore other areas of the country through our guided overnight packages.  Spend one or two nights exploring beaches, marine parks, rainforests, cloudforests, national parks, and more.

Uvita and Playa Ballena Pacific Coast Beaches

Embark on a group excursion to the South Pacific Coast Beaches of Playa Ballena and the town of Uvita! Participate in professionally guided surf lessons, take a hike in the park to try to spot monkeys and sloths, learn about marine conservation efforts a dolphin watching and snorkeling excursion boat tour. Enjoy additional beach time, gift shopping in local markets, and gorgeous Pacific sunsets

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Explore one of the most well-known cloud forest in the world for its biodiversity, conservation efforts, and scientific research. Take a guided nature walk through the park to experience this unique ecosystem. The following day, explore the rainforest further with an exhilarating Skytrek adventure, an extensive system of suspension bridges and zip lines through the canopy.

La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano National Park

Take an overnight excursion to La Fortuna-Arenal Volcano Natl Park. Explore the rainforest and wildlife through a canopy tour at Hanging Bridges Park or alternatively through an exhilarating Skytrek zip-line adventure. Trek to the stunning La Fortuna Waterfall for a swim and then relax in the one of La Fortuna’s many restorative natural hot springs.

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