Volunteer abroad in Costa Rica with Raleigh International - Best Gap Year Program

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Raleigh International has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Raleigh Expedition volunteer
Raleigh Expedition volunteer
Raleigh Expedition Costa Rica
Raleigh Expedition Costa Rica
Change Starts on Raleigh Expedition
Change Starts on Raleigh Expedition
Teenlife badge
Teenlife badge
Raleigh Expedition volunteer on community project
Raleigh Expedition volunteer on community project
Gap Year Association logo
Gap Year Association logo
School Visit in Costa Rica
School Visit in Costa Rica
Digging in the National Park
Digging in the National Park

About

Raleigh Expedition is an international volunteering program open to all and engaging young people from around the world. Expedition is one of four programs delivered by the youth-driven development charity, Raleigh International.

We believe young people everywhere can change the world. So, we empower young people (aged 17-24) with the skills, experience and connections to be leaders of change.

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, home to national parks, volcanoes and stunning landscapes. The program engages volunteers in creating long-lasting change through hands-on projects that tackle environmental issues, access to education for all, and alleviate poverty.

Expeditions in Costa Rica run for 4, 7 and 10 weeks throughout the year, so you can join on your gap year.

Raleigh Expedition is one of the first UK programs to be accredited by the Gap Year Association (GYA) and recognized by TeenLife as a Top 15 Most Popular Gap Program in 2020.

Highlights
  • Work alongside local people to improve their access to education on the indigenous Community project.
  • Help conserve Costa Rica’s biodiversity and improve access to national parks on the Environmental project.
  • Trek through rainforest and up volcanoes on a variety of stunning routes that tourists don’t get access to.
  • Work with Costa Rican youth to help create a more inclusive society.
  • Work alongside innovative young local people, leading the international fight against climate change.

Impact

We’re holding development projects to account using technology, developing the skills to run behaviour change campaigns and reducing the impact of climate change on communities most at risk. Youth-driven change is getting things done!

Nearly 2,000 amazing young people from across the world led Raleigh International’s work in 2018 across five countries, impacting the lives of over 40,000. But that’s only part of the story. Young people are continuing to take action in their own communities, from creating sustainable start-ups, to challenging gender inequality and calling for action on the climate emergency and human rights.

If we are going to finally defeat poverty and injustice, find sustainable ways to protect our planet and achieve the Global Goals, young people must be the ones taking the lead and driving the solutions. Read our 2018 impact report at: raleighinternational.org/our-work/our-impact

Want to volunteer abroad in 2020? Register your interest for our 5 week program in November.

Now more than ever, the communities and partners we work with need our support. So, we are exploring the potential to run 5 week programs from November to December in Costa Rica and/or Nepal, provided it is safe to do so. These shorter programs are aimed at individuals who want to make a meaningful impact while traveling abroad during a short school or career break. Get in touch to express your interest.


Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.15 Rating
based on 20 reviews
  • Impact 8.7
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 20
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exceptional experience developing myself and others

I volunteered as a Project Manager with Raleigh Feb-Apr 2019, it was quite simply the most rewarding, exciting and fun 3 months of my life! I had the opportunity to work on all three different 'stages' from a trek across the country building the confidence of international youth, to digging trails in a National Park to bring tourism to a new remote area, to building a school in an indigenous community.
As a project manager you co-lead a group of 15-20 international volunteers aged 18-25 so your impact is not only on the local communities of Costa Rica but of also on the development of youth from all around the world.
I met friends for life and really came away feeling like a made a different to so many lives, I am proud to continue to support Raleigh as an Alumni and love continuing to watch their impact grow over seas, I couldn't recommend it more.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You will worry about things before you go like; where will I wash? where will I sleep? what will I eat? however, this all becomes a new normal and you do not even think about them when you're there. Don't sweat the small stuff!
Your challenges become; how to I engage 15 18 year olds? which way do I turn on this dirt track? how can I build a new classroom for these children? Put your concerns into perspective and enjoy it.
Default avatar
Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best experiences ever!

I had such an incredible time on Raleigh. I met people I didn’t think I’d ever meet and did things I never thought I’d get the chance to do! Honestly, couldn’t recommend enough! Working in an NRM project was so beautiful and trekking across Costa Rica was challenging but so rewarding! Working with indigenous communities was so eye opening and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to go there. I have made incredible friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life and I really hope that many more people will get to have the experience that I have had! The support and learning you receive throughout your Raleigh experience is invaluable. I feel I have developed so many different hard and soft skills, few of which I would ever have had the chance to develop had it not been for Raleigh. Thank you all so much!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
How much I learned in three months! I now know more about who I am and what I want to achieve in life! The most surprising thing was really how much you can be pushed to your limit and still succeed.
Default avatar
Sophie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Fantastic Opportunity to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone in Costa Rica!

I first heard about Raleigh International through school and as soon as I decided to take a gap year following school, I knew I wanted to embark on a Raleigh expedition. It was the best decision I have ever made!
Spending 10 weeks in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Raleigh allowed me to experience new cultures, learn valuable communication, problem solving and organisational skills and meet a whole host of people I would never otherwise have met. To say that I was taken out of my comfort zone during my expedition would be an understatement- a Raleigh expedition will completely propel you from your comfort zone!!! From reinforcing paths and fixing bridges in the heart of a national park to making dream comes true for the local people with the addition of a gravity water system to hiking across breathtaking landscapes, every day on Raleigh is different. Some days will be harder than others and everyone will likely be affected by illness and feeling home sick at some point but the support and safety in place mean that sooner rather than later you will be feeling elated and in awe of the experience you are living! The projects take venturers and volunteer managers off the beaten track and allow you to experience parts of the country you would never be able to experience if you were travelling on your own or with a tour company. In addition the projects present the unique opportunity to live and work alongside local people to contribute towards the UN sustainable development goals.
I had always been very shy and reserved at school and I lacked a significant amount of self confidence but following my Raleigh expedition I arrived home a completely changed person (for the better!). Although vastly different it equipped me with so many of the skills I needed to completely my pharmacy degree and go on to begin my career as a pharmacist and I’m sure the same would be true regardless of the sector that you go on to work in. I guarantee you will absolutely not regret choosing Raleigh International.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace every moment- take pictures and live in the now. Use your time on Raleigh to reflect on the things that matter and to grow yourself as a person- write in a journal, say yes to any new experience, put maximum effort into every project but most of all; don’t forget to look up and realise where your are! Costa Rica is full of some of the most amazing landscapes and people you will ever see or meet and you will sorely miss them when you are back home!
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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica and Nicaragua

This experience for me came when I needed it the most. The experience in leadership and team work that I gained on expedition I could take with me back into my day to day life.
The friendships I built through out this trip were life changing everyone had a different impact teaching me something new and helping me develop as a person. I felt safe though out and all of the instructors where amazing. The amount of effort put in to make sure we were safe and enjoying are experiene was above and beyond what I expected. I pushed my self mentally and physically at times especially during trek. However your group was always there to support you though the tough days and where there to celebrate the wins. Would definitely recommend Raleigh international (I want to do it all again)

Default avatar
Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Community and Adventure Projects in Costa Rica & Nicaragua

Undertaking a 7 week expedition with Raleigh to Costa Rica and Nicaragua was the best thing I could have done with my year out. It not only gave me the chance to give back in some way and create lasting positive change, but also took me on a journey of personal development.

I lived and worked alongside the community of Los Llanitos in Nicaragua, to help them create a 7 km gravity-fed water system. Being fully immersed in the life of a rural Nicaraguan community was one of the best parts of my expedition, allowing me to build friendships and learn about a completed new culture, diversifying my knowledge and improving my Spanish to no end!
Although one of the most challenging experiences of my life to-date - expedition helped me develop a new confidence and willingness to challenge myself and others everywhere I go. I would recommend Raleigh expedition to anyone.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for the full 10 week expedition - wouldn't want to miss a thing!
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James
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life turning point!

I'm not sure I really knew what I was letting myself into when I signed up for a Raleigh Expedition. However, what I can say is that I definitely didn't expect the most memorable experience of my life so far. I contributed to something genuinely meaningful - whilst part of an incredible, internationally diverse team of other young people. Not only that, it felt adventurous, fun and it created a change within me - it made me who I am today. Costa Rica and Nicaragua were incredible countries to visit. Seeing the issues they face with my own eyes, and working collaboratively alongside volunteers from those countries really opened my mind to what you can achieve together. Nothing is impossible. I can't recommend this programme highly enough. If you do it, I think it's likely it will be a turning point in your life, just as it was in mine.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future volunteers on a Raleigh Expedition: don't count the days, make the days count.
Default avatar
Josh
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Raleigh Expedition was the best thing I could have done

Beyond just giving me the chance to experience an absolutely amazing part of the world, and work on projects I knew were bringing about real positive change, my Raleigh Expedition completely transformed me in so many ways.

It developed huge new confidence and willingness in me to try new things and confront challenges, at a time when I had never done anything remotely like it before. Through it, I've made such a wealth of friends around the world who I'm still in touch with, and it's led to opportunities in my career that I never could have anticipated, for which I'm still so grateful for.

No matter where you're at, if you want to make a really fantastic change not just to others but to yourself, or if you want to start exploring the world or get actively involved in charitable work but you just don't know where to start, I can't recommend Raleigh enough. It is an awesome experience.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Being able to see both coasts of Costa Rica (the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea) from the peak of Mount Chirripo, whilst on the group trek during Expedition.
Default avatar
Julian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience, amazing organisation - real impact

I had an amazing time with Raleigh in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The in-country team were fantastic - really motivated to make sure that everybody on the programme was well supported and inspired to challenge themselves and make a difference. The whole experience was unique - we got to live and work with real local people to address real challenges.

Working with the indigenous people of Costa Rica was inspiring - the communities were really remote, walking several hours through the rainforest to get to the village where we lived. We got to support the Cabecar people to get a basis education - previously they got their classes in falling down builiding or sometimes under a tree. Now we helped the community to build a new school, set up a parents group and inspire the children to go to school. Its an experience I'll never forget.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The kindness and generosity of all the people I met