Costa Rica and Nicaragua Expedition with Gapforce

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About

This new journey begins in the deep and dense Costa Rica rainforest with a bushcraft and rafting adventure, before joining a critical and sustainable turtle conservation project where you will tag and release turtles, whilst assisting with beach patrols.

The adventure continues with inland with some trekking and ziplining in the cloud forests of Monteverde and Arenal volcano, before ending on the Pacific coast with a chance to take part in some surfing and snorkeling.

Heading into the less well-travelled country of Nicaragua. Traveling by boat, we will set off to the largest lake in Central America for a 4 day visit to a remote island.

Highlights
  • Jungle Skills
  • Turtle Conservation
  • Hiking and Exploring
  • Eco-Volunteering
  • Surf and Watersports

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 9 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 8.7
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
Danii
10/10

Costa Rica

So when i went to Costa Rica I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Having only the brief information and no further contact on what was going on it was a slightly scary unknown. So when me and my best friend walked off the plan we had no idea who we were meeting or where we would be going. Thankfully we walked out of the airport to the smiling face of Joe. Who was not just our leader but a great friend and a massive part of the trip being fun. Throughout my month away i faced so many fears and believe i grew a lot as a person. Whether it was small things like trying rice and beans, as i am an extremely fussy eater, or the big things like zip lining across the rainforest, i made sure to give everything a go. And i definitely would have regretted it if i didn't. Being someone who is extremely scared of heights i was extremely nervous to zip line but due to the support around me i gave it a go and i must say it was one of the best days of my life! There were so many once in a life time experiences throughout the trip and even though some things do not go to plan (For example the hostel set on fire) I would not change it for the world . Both the experience and the people. I would not have had the same experience without them, and Joe was definitely a good leader that helped me enjoy the trip to the fullest.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Michela
8/10

Costa Rica wilderness/survival medicine trip

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and learnt much about what to consider when being a medic on an expedition. As the role of medic and expedition leader can be quite interchangeable - often trips will have one person doing both roles - a lot of our training focused on how to look after the group and things to consider when leading an expedition.

I also learnt a lot about my own body and how I cope with such a tough environment, this was a very important lesson as it will help me to consider my group members and what health problems they could potentially encounter.

The Spanish lessons around the fire in the evening were particularly enjoyable and, unlike learning a language at school, we learnt very useful phrases and vocabulary for our situation. It made me feel much more at home in this Spanish speaking country.

How can this program be improved?
It could potentially be improved by breaking the jungle phase up a bit. 9 consecutive days of camp jobs and learning was great but it might have been easier mentally if there was one day in the middle where we had some form of team building fun, for example a day's trekking or kayaking or something along those lines, just to break it up a bit and provide some light relief.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jennifer
10/10

Nurse review of MedForce Expedition Medic Course

Expedition Medic Course-I had a great experience during my expedition medicine course. We spent the first three weeks of my course learning the theory via lessons, workbooks, scenarios, quizzes plus on-going feedback from the instructor. This proved beneficial as the whole group, who all started with significant differences in medical knowledge, were able to learn and complete the course with a sound practical understanding of expedition medicine. The course instructor, Jade, is extremely knowledgeable with obvious working experience of both teaching and being an expedition medic. The course was well structured and Jade created a good, enjoyable learning environment.

Spanish-A few days into the course we met the other leader, Colin. He began teaching the group Spanish. Again it its clear he has a great amount of experience teaching which made learning this new language easier. Through regular short sessions the group managed to pick up a good basic language in a small amount of time.

Jungle-The jungle experience was a good opportunity to learn basic survival skills; camp set-up, cooking and hygiene practices, as well as practice expedition medicine through more realistic scenarios. The group was also introduced into incident management and evacuation procedures. The week in the jungle helped solidify the knowledge learnt plus allowed yourself to be tested in the expedition medic role.

RR-Mixed in with the education was regular rest days and fun activities, mines included surf lessons and white water rafting. These were fun relaxing days where I got to experience and attempt to learn new skills. Again I would recommend both Jade and Colin on their encouraging attitude during these lessons.

What impressed me the most in the course was how well organised Jade and Colin managed to run the whole trip. Their flexibility combined with their adaptability allowed the course to suit everyone’s individual needs while running in a smooth and professional way. This is a good comprehensive yet enjoyable course, I would recommend it to healthcare students.

How can this program be improved?
Personally I would have preferred a more in-depth Expedition Medical course, but for the purpose of this course this is not necessary
Yes, I recommend this program
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ADRIAN
9/10

Great trip for those looking for a real adventure

This is a trip that's not like 'normal' travel companies will dare provide. It's a real adventure with a real challenge and no safety net! Something to really build the character.

If I take away one story it'll be when the rope bridge over the raging river collapsed when we were half way across and an hour after it was dark, in the driving rain, the resourcefulness and braveness of the group leaders were able to get us all across to the local plantation...

How can this program be improved?
Everyone on the trip were unsure about the kit to take. It seems there were several kit lists that were sent around and all of us bought something were told later wasn't required. I think this was a mix up in the office.

This is a very tough trip and nobody ever asked about general health or fitness. I'm generally quite fit but found this trip very tough having not done much fitness related for a month or two.

The trip was three weeks, roughly two of which were on the trip and one at 'field camp' which is probably not the most hospitable place in the world, but it's there to prepare you for the trip ahead. The training there could easily have been done in far less time (not withstanding we had to spend an extra day there because the local guide missed his bus). It felt like we spent less than half the time there learning anything - and that could often have been done better.

Another day or two on the Carribean side after the trek would have been great (I know we missed a day because the local guide missed the bus).

Sorry if this sounds like a moany list - it really isn't - I had a great time - I went looking for adventure after finding that most similar trips nanny you a little too much - and this felt very, very real - exactly what I was after!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Harsimran
10/10

Belize MedForce Experience

My experience in Belize with GapForce was probably one of the best experiences I’be had thus far in my life. I learnt how to be self sufficient not only in the jungle but also on my own outside of the jungle as I was given the chance to be on my own in San Pedro. I was fortunate to have Dan and Lydia as leaders during the expedition as their upbeat and helpful attitudes always maintained a positive and motivated environment. Kim was an excellent expedition medicine teacher as she was very hands on and always ready to answer any questions we had. I was given the opportunity to grow as a person and explore out of my comfort zone. In the jungle, we worked together, bathed together, stank together and lived together. It is true - there are n secrets in the jungle.

All in all, I would recommend this program to anyone who, like me, is looking to try something different or anyone who wouldn’t mind getting their hands dirty.

How can this program be improved?
The kit list sent out to us included things that we didn’t need and ended costing me a lot of money. Although understandable that everything on the list would aid and make jungle survival easier, i think it would be great to be given the opportunity to converse with the expedition leaders via Skype first. I also thing getting acquainted with the leaders would make it easier for the person to get into the swing of things in the jungle.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Joanna
10/10

Unbelizable! (someone had to say it)

Living in the jungle is an experience I'll never forget. Not a day went by without a 'wow' moment; whether it be simply taking in the jungle surroundings, swimming in beautiful waterfalls, watching the sunset from pyramids, eating spam, going wild with machetes or hearing about Paul's latest experience in the long drop.

Couldn't have asked for a better group to spend two months with, leader included! Terry risked life and limb (quite literally) to ensure we got the most out of every day and had a trip which went way beyond expectations.

Belt kit night was a highlight for me - going off into the jungle in pairs for two days with just our machetes, first aid kit and a few basic rations. Here our survival training was put to the test as we built our shelter, beds and fire. Despite a thunderstorm, a visit from coral snake and no sleep, I can say that night was one of the best experiences I'll probably ever have!

How can this program be improved?
The kit list could do with being updated by a leader - some bits weren't needed.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Will
9/10

Awesome trip

Just done the 2 month trekkers course in Belize and really enjoyed it! Living in the jungle was an incredible experience, and a great mixture of things on the itinerary to keep things fresh! Becoming jungle trained, seeing snakes, cave kayaking, swimming in waterfalls and touching sharks at the barrier reef aren't everyday activities!
Belize is a really cool country with lots of friendly people wherever we went! Also had an awesome group of guys and girls doing the same trip, which was something everybody always worries about! Our leader was a great guy too, always keeping things entertaining and was helpful.
Would definitely recommend the trip to anybody looking for a completely different, action-packed, jungle-bashing trip! You won't regret doing it!

How can this program be improved?
Better advice on the kit list. I spent a lot of money buying some nice kit, when in hindsight I could have saved some money if I'd known what I really needed- i.e if I had talked to a someone with experience like our leader before.
I didn't mind because it's kind of like an investment for the future, but other people might not have the same opinion!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Heather
10/10

Jungle ninja training

I had an awesome time with Medforce/Trekforce in Belize and Guatemala. I spent the first 3 weeks on a brand-new course run for medical students in the jungle, where we were taught by an experienced doctor about expeditions and wilderness medicine.

Lessons were informal and fun, and covered topics such as: altitude medicine, tropical medicine, dessert and diving medicine, and practical skills such as making stretchers, evacuation plans, suturing (on chickens, which we then ate!) and the practialities of remote medicine. These were interspersed with 'scenarios', where one of us would be assigned as medic, and would be the medical lead on a scenario such as a snake bite or a fractured leg.

We spent the first week at base camp (in San Ignacio, lovely little town), then the next two weeks in the jungle with the Trainee Expedition Leaders (TELs), who taught us jungle skills such as firelighting, fauna and flora, jungle observation, camp layout and machette work. One of the highlights of this part was the solo night, where we'd spend the night in the jungle on our own. We also had our own 3-day trek, which was tough, but very rewarding - especially finding a campsite full of mangos!

I then joined the trekker programme for the next 3 weeks as a medic and a trekker, and took part in the El Mirador trek to Guatemala (lots of walking but supported by mules), then advanced jungle training week. This was the most hardcore week, where we set up wild camp, and learnt to make shelters, traps, knots and navigation. We also had a belt kit night, where we went off in pairs and had to make our own shelters for the night. It was the worst night's sleep I've had in a long time, but there was no better feeling than waking up from your home-made shelter and spending the next day at the beautiful waterfall by waterfall camp. There wasn't much medical to do for me (aside from a bit of sickness, a sprained ankle, some caterpillar stings, blisters and a bit of tropical medicine), but that is a good thing for the group!

Overall, I had an amazing time, and wish I could go back there. We were taken care of very well, by the leaders and by the TELs, and I learnt loads of valuable bushcraft skills as well us plenty of expedition medicine to set me up for the future! Well worth the time and money.

How can this program be improved?
I agree with Melissa - scrap/change the briefing day; contact and info from Gapforce alone was enough for me.

Smaller sized Trekforce t-shirts available ;)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Melissa
10/10

I had the time of my life

Each day was an adventure. We started of with basic training which was 5 days long. Terry was great at keeping things really laid back and the lessons were more like conversations. We all gave our own input. The lessons included; machete work, fire making, first aid, flower and fauna and more.
The camps that we stayed in were great. Our first camp was the Visitors Center. This was the most luxurious of the three camps. The second, the Waterfall Camp was awesome. It was great to be able to have a good wash and some down time there. This is also where we had our solo nights.I was a bit nervous about it at first but once I'd found a nice camp and had set up my basha I was quite happy. The final camp and the Cave Camp which was where we built the palapa during our project week.
We started our project week with some bushwhacking with Jay. It was tough but we kept each other going. We then spent a day and a half building a palapa as a shower area in Cave Camp.
After a tiring 10 day was the activity week. We did kayaking which was amazing but I burnt my feet really badly. We also went to the zoo which was cool because in the jungle you hear all the animals but you don't really see them. In Guatemala we went to Tikal (the daddy of Mayan sites).

My overall experience in Belize and Guatemala was unbelievable. Since being back home people have asked me if there was any parts I didn't enjoy. There wasn't a single moment when I thought I'm not having fun. The best moment? Sitting round the campfire with my new friends and talking rubbish.

How can this program be improved?
I think the briefing day either needs to be changed or scrapped all together. At the time I thought it was great, but when I arrived in Belize I realized that a lot of the things we were told wasn't right. For example we were told to ignore that fact that on the kit list it says to not bring flip flops, just to bring sandals. When really flip flops aren't suitable at all. We were also told to bring enough chlorine tables for 2 liters a day. When you really need enough for at least 4 liters, so I ran out about half way though and Terry had to give me some of his. I think it would of been better if Terry led the Belize briefing.
Yes, I recommend this program

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About GapForce

Gapforce is a leading provider of structured Gap Year programs and summer opportunities overseas. The wide range of global adventures includes marine conservation, wildlife protection, community volunteering & healthcare, extreme expeditions,...