Costa Rica and Panama Primate Studies

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Costa Rica: Quepos, San Jose
Panama: Bocas del Toro


Join Broadreach on an eye-opening expedition to the wilds of Costa Rica and Panama to learn about New World monkeys and how we can help protect them from extinction. Among the many endangered creatures, few are more intriguing than monkeys of Central America. White-faced capuchins, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys and mantled howler monkeys steal your hearts as they gaze at you from the trees. Travel to El Zota Biological Field Station in the heart of Costa Rica to learn about primate ecology in a spectacular rainforest setting. Journey to a tropical island on Panama's Caribbean coast to continue your studies, participate in ongoing monkey research and examine threats to their survival in a biodiversity hotspot that has been called the Galapagos of Panama. Returning to Costa Rica, work alongside local organizations and scientists on animal rehabilitation, reforestation, conservation and education efforts on the Pacific coast, using our newfound knowledge to teach others about monkeys and the importance of preserving their endangered habitats.

* Day 1-3
A two-day rafting trip down Costa Rica's thrilling Rio Pacuare gives our group a chance to get to know each other. Our adventure takes us through stunning canyons and lush lowland tropical rainforest, giving us our first glimpses of the monkeys and ecosystems we've come to study and help protect, as well as ocelots, sloths and an astounding variety of birds.

* Day 4-8
El Zota Biological Field Station in northeast Costa Rica is the perfect place to embark on our study of the rainforest and its primate inhabitants. The 2,500 acre reserve is home to white-faced capuchins, mantled howler monkeys and threatened black-handed spider monkeys that share their habitat with peccaries, armadillos, otters, parrots, toucans and poison dart frogs. We begin with discussions on rainforest ecology and primate natural history, biology and behavior. Learn field research techniques, then head out with naturalist guides to observe spider monkeys as they clamber through the canopy or listen to the guttural howls of howler monkeys defending their turf. Explore a variety of habitats including lowland rainforest, lowland swamp forest, reforested areas, a small river and several freshwater lagoons. After completing your daily monkey observation logs, take a break to play soccer with the villagers or paddle a canoe on one of the field station's small lakes.

* Day 9-14
A short flight takes us to the tropical Isla Colon in Panama's Caribbean archipelago. Before resuming our studies and field work, we explore the nearby Zapatilla Keys on an overnight sailing adventure. Visit Dolphin Bay where bottlenose dolphins play in the crystal clear water, then head out to the Bastimentos National Marine Park for an afternoon of snorkeling and beach exploration. Returning to Isla Colon, we settle into our beachfront cabins at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation. With beautiful white Caribbean beaches on one side, mangroves on the other, and a lush tropical rainforest in between, Isla Colon is one of the most breathtaking islands in Central America. Here we examine threats to Central America's primates. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, development, domestication and poaching all contribute to the decline of healthy monkey populations in the region. We focus our discussions around ongoing efforts and potential strategies to counter and alleviate these impacts. As our academic understanding of these amazing creatures progresses, we expand our field studies.. Search for monkeys and sloths on a mangrove boat tour, and look for the world's only nocturnal monkeys on night hikes in the rainforest.

* Day 15-21
Travel to Manuel Antonio National Park on Costa Rica's Pacific coast to observe the only New World monkey found in Costa Rica that we have yet to encounter, the squirrel monkey. Working alongside local educational and conservation organizations in one of the most beautiful and biodiverse areas in the world, we put our newfound expertise and experience to use... Help sustain the resident monkey population by assisting with reforestation projects and habitat renewal or surveying monkey bridges built to protect monkeys from encroaching roads and power lines. Help care for sick, injured or young monkeys, sloths and other animals at the animal rehabilitation center. Design and distribute educational materials about monkey and rainforest conservation to park visitors. As the trip comes to an end, we reflect on the fact that man holds the future of so many species in his hands. We are simultaneously their biggest enemy and the key to their survival. You leave amazed at the knowledge you've gained, the friendships made, the experiences shared and the small but meaningful impact you've made together to protect New World monkeys and their habitats for the future.


* Hands-on Studies of Primate and Rainforest Ecology
* Field Research in Costa Rica and Panama
* Reforestation, Habitat Conservation and Rehabilitation Projects
* Whitewater Rafting, Overnight Sailing Adventure, Hiking
* High School/College Credit; 25+ Hours Community Service
* Prerequisite: No Experience Necessary

Program Duration

2-4 Week


June 28 - July 18 and July 22 - August 11

Travel Types

  • Eco Tours
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Hiking
  • Nature Tours
  • Rafting
  • RainForest Tours
  • Sailing
  • Snorkeling
  • Volunteering


Participants are high school students completing grades 9-12.

Type of Programs

  • Adventure Travel
  • Community Service / Volunteerism
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Study Abroad


  • English

Cost in US$:

Call for details

Credit Available


Experience Required


Volunteer Types

  • Animal Welfare
  • Conservation
  • Eco-tourism
  • Environment
  • Planting
  • Public Education
  • Reforestation
  • Tree Planting
  • Veterinary
  • Wildlife Surveying

Age Range


This Program is open to

Worldwide Participants.

Typical Living Arrangements

  • Group living
  • Other

Participants Travel

Independently or in Groups

Typically Participants Work

in Groups of 10-12

Scholarships are Available

Applications for next summer are due May 1. Scholarship awards will be made May 15th.

Typically The Application Process Time is

1-3 days