Pitzer in Costa Rica Academics
Culture, Environment and Ecology Track

Study Trips

A wide range of study trips to enhance the curriculum is an important part of the educational program. Destinations change from semester to semester but possible trips include:

Study Trip to Nicaragua

Students visit Nicaragua as part of the core course: Advanced Spanish in the Costa Rican Community.

National Parks of Costa Rica

The national parks and reserves in Costa Rica harbor an estimated 75 percent of all Costa Rica’s species of flora and fauna, including species that have all but disappeared in neighboring countries. Students will typically visit Caño Island in Corcovado and Marina Ballena National Parks as part of their coursework.

Indigenous Boruca Community

Students will spend a day visiting a museum belonging to the Boruca, one of the eight indigenous groups of Costa Rica, and will work on a community project.

Study Trip to Panama

Students travel to Panama just after the midpoint of the semester.  This trip allows students to compare what they have observed in Costa Rica with another Central American country.  When students return to Costa Rica after being out of the country, they will be allowed to stay for another 90 days.
New FALL 2013 - Tropical Marine Biology

Tropical Restoration Ecology Study Trips

The overall goal of the Ecology study trips is to expose students to new habitats and diversity of species as a compliment to that experienced in the tropical forest of the Firestone Reserve.

Savegre Cloud Forest Study Trip

This trip allows students to experience, hike, and make observations in a tropical cloud forest setting. Cloud forests are unique in that most of the moisture is obtained as horizontal mists in clouds, as compared to rain, or vertical drops at lower, coastal elevations. Plants and animals have evolved to depend on these continual mists and the structure of the forest mirrors this dependency. On this trip, students will participate in a guided hike and have the opportunity to compare differences in forest structure and species compared to that of lower elevations. A higher elevation montane stream is sampled for water quality (temp., oxygen, bacteria) and insect macroinvertebrates, and they are compared with samples collected from streams at the lower elevation, warmer, Firestone Center. This information is used by students in group study projects.

An additional highlight of this trip is the search for the elusive Resplendant Quetzal, a highly prized sighting for birders around the world, and to observe large numbers of hummingbirds in the Savegre Mountain Lodge Gardens and at feeders.

Sierpe River Study Trip    

Sierpe, one of Costa Rica’s most important river systems, is a mecca for biodiversity. Although the focus of this study trip is to study the ecology of mangroves and why they are vital to the river, students have the opportunity to observe great numbers of plants and animals. One early morning trip can yield up to 50 different species of wading birds. Also, this is one of three rivers in Costa Rica where crocodiles and caiman abound. It is frequent that two species of monkeys are observed feeding or moving through the mangroves on this trip. The trip takes the class from an upstream fresh water system, through mangrove lagoons, to the river mouth, where fresh and salt water meet.  Students learn to distinguish among 8 species of mangroves using leaf structure, roots, and seeds. Several measurements are collected and species sighted are recorded for a lab exercise.  In addition, water samples are collected along several points of the river for comparison.