Costa Rican adventure

It is generally a fair assumption that after finals week Tech students want to find a way to escape from school. At the end of finals week last fall, 15 Tech students did just that when they went on a trip with the Outdoor Recreation at Georgia Tech (ORGT) organization to Costa Rica. ORGT began arranging the trip about a year ago with a local Costa Rican company named GoGreen and marketed the trip as an “Eco-Adventure.”

GoGreen focuses on eco-friendly vacations and was integral in helping to plan the trip. Some of the money that GoGreen received from the trip helped to build schools and start new eco-friendly projects in Costa Rica. The group also planted near extinct trees in the area that will be monitored by local college students.

“The students signed up for an adventure and I think that’s exactly what they got,” said Leigh Jackson-Magennis, assistant director of campus recreation-outdoor recreation.

The 15 students and the ORGT staff that accompanied them including Jackson-Magennis, spent nine days exploring the island. Some of the activities included canyoneering, whitewater rafting, hiking through the rainforests, snorkeling, canopy tours and kayaking.

One of the first activities the group took part in was taking on the whitewater rapids of the renowned Pacuare River. The river boasts Class III/IV rapids and is considered to be quite a challenge.

In addition to all of the exciting outdoor activities, the students stayed with a local family for two days to observe how they sustain themselves. The family that the students lodged with have their own farm where they produce yucca chips to sell. Students were able to immerse themselves in the family’s lifestyle by participating in the everyday chores that help to run the farm. The students even learned some local recipes by making the yucca chips and bread and cheese.

After their stay with the family the group met up with a park ranger to complete a strenuous hike through the rainforest to reach the San Gerardo Ranger Station. To get to the ranger station the group crossed over five rivers and climbed about 5,000 ft in six miles.

There are no roads that reach the park where they stayed and the location is so remote that they were one out of only nine groups to stay in the area all last year. While visiting the station, the rangers taught the students about the unique eco-systems and wildlife in Costa Rica, some of which are close to extinction.

The station has a unique view of the Lake Arenal and the volcano Mt. Arenal. The group was able to take in views few get to see of Mt. Arenal erupting just enough to show sparks of magma in the night sky. The volcano is constantly erupting and is not currently considered dangerous.

“The nights we spent at the rangers station were spectacular! We were sleeping under the stars staring at a volcano occasionally gracing our views with lava. Traveling to Costa Rica was intoxicating to every one of our senses. The beauty was constantly overwhelming-coming at your from who and what you were seeing, smelling and touching,” said Emily Saad fourth-year Chem and EAS.

From the ranger station the group hiked to the coast to Manuel Antonio National Park and spent the last two days of the trip on the beach. The area is known for its superb surfing conditions. While at the beach they were able to sea kayak and snorkel.

“The trip was really great because it took us out of every one of our comfort zones. We went to a place in which most of us were unfamiliar with the culture and the language, we also didn’t really know what to expect besides adventure. The hike to the ranger station-climbing a billion feet in the rainforest was a different kind of outside of comfort zone experience. It was you and your body. You just kept climbing, reaching for a strength you don’t often invoke,” Saad said. For more information on ORGT, or visit them in the CRC.