• Panama
    • Panama City
Fall, Spring, Summer
Subject Areas
Agriculture Biology Botany Business Conservation and Preservation Culinary Arts Design Ecology Engineering Entrepreneurship Environmental Studies Field Studies International Business Latin American Studies Natural Sciences Public Health Sustainable Development Tourism +8

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Degree Level
Associates Bachelors Masters


Starting Price
Price Details
Each semester lasts for 10-weeks with a tuition for the Spring & Summer 2023 semesters of $4,995 USD. Inquire further about financial aid and scholarship options. Your tuition covers housing, meal plan, transportation to and from Tocumen airport (PTY), highly-qualified instructors, program and project supplies, and other Institute needs – all of which directly correlate with ensuring an amazing Institute experience. Budget breakdowns are available upon request.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Classes Meals Visa Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare SIM cards Travel Insurance
Nov 09, 2022
Jul 10, 2018
70 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The Panama Tropical Research Institute is a study abroad and internship program located in a rainforest river valley in Panama. Our institute is responsible for the research and projects to help us build the world's largest, sustainable eco-village. We offer 4 main programs: Biology, Sustainable Agriculture, Design, and Outdoor Recreation and 3 semesters per year, each lasting 10 weeks. Our participants range from Gap Year students to undergrads, post-graduates, and people wanting to take a moment to reflect on the next step in their career. 80% of our participants are able to receive academic credits, including 3 hours within their major, 3 to 6 hours of internship credit, and 3 hours of self-directed or independent study credit. However, many of our students and interns come purely for their own personal experience.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • 12 years of experience, 1000+ students, 200+ universities, from 40+ countries
  • Unique hands-on, immersive study abroad and internship experience in the heart of the tropical jungle
  • Earn up to 12 academic credits: Agriculture, Biology, Design, Outdoor Recreation, & Sustainability courses
  • Develop & lead your own research project
  • Meet new friends from all over the world & explore the adventure Panama has to offer

Related Programs

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 29 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
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  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.75
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.7
  • Safety 4.4
  • Housing 5
  • Support 5
  • Fun 5
  • Value 5
  • Safety 5
Showing 9 - 16 of 29 reviews
Yes, I recommend this program

Kalu Yala Internship Review

I had a spectacular time during my 2.5 months at Kalu Yala. I loved the fact that i got the chance to learn from everyone there, not just the people in leadership postions. Everyone was so kind and welcoming when we first got into the jungle. From then on, I felt like I was a sponge trying to absorb every possible thing i could from my fellow interns, other staff members, and especially the amazing Jon Trimarco (my ag director)

I learned the basics of permaculture principles not only in the topics but everywhere. I learned how to apply permaculture to all aspects of life, not just farming or gardening. I learned how to compost and build my own compost system. I learned the basics of tropical agriculture. I got to teach elementary school kids the basics of tropical farming :) I learned about Black Soldier Flies and how the can break down a compost pile much quicker than anything else and can then be used as chicken or fish feed; extremely nutritious and sustainable feed :) the ag team as a whole were catalysts in regenerating an old cattle pasture back into its natural state of rainforest. We all worked to breed iguanas in a place where iguanas are going extinct. We showed others that hard, manual labor can be fun and rewarding. and this is all just what we did as an agriculture team. The other programs were simotaneously working their magic in other parts of this amazing village which will someday be a town

What would you improve about this program?
transparency! executives at KY have nothing to hide so they need to really shine a light on what it is that they are doing and hide nothing. tell everyone that it is still in the early stages of development for a town!
35 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Transformative Experience in the Panamanian Jungle

If you are looking for a digital detox, to re-connect to the natural world, to redevelop your relationships to food and waste management, to meet passionate people who will inspire you in more ways than you think possible, this is the experience for you.
This is a special place that allows people to explore, create and share what they have to offer. The experience will teach you a lot about yourself if you allow it to. The more you put it, the more you get out.

35 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic Opportunity

My experience at Kalu Yala was amazing. Every single day was a learning experience from both my directors and my peers. As a business intern, not only was I able to learn about business through a more socially- and environmentally-conscious scope, but also about permaculture, sustainable food systems, and communicating sustainability through a variety of media outlets, among a plethora of other subjects. I was even given enough support to co-launch a start-up company with a fellow intern and was able learn so much from an entrepreneurial environment. I would do Kalu Yala all over again if I could.

34 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing life experience

I went to Kalu Yala after college because I love central america and it was relevant to what I wanted to do after college. I would say to budget more so that you can travel around the country on weekends, breaks, before and after. Kalu Yala gave me an opportunity to take responsibility for my professional work and personal development while working. This was a beautiful place, with an interesting dialogue.

What would you improve about this program?
More formal lecturing and more formal instruction.
35 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

If they come they will build it.

The best way to change the world is to change YOUR world. And Kalu Yala is a great place to start. It is building the world it wants to live in and will help you shape your vision of the future.
At it's core, Kalu Yala "believes that the answers to most of the worlds challenges already exist and only need to be brought together in one place to demonstrate their truths".
In order to do that, it greets interns and, much like children with limitless imagination, they are guided through a 10-week real-world sandbox experience.
If you are looking for a new way to learn, if you agree that you can often learn more by putting yourself to the test, by building it yourself, by failing and reevaluating and trying it again, then you will greatly benefit from your experience here.

This might give you an idea: Sit down and try writing up a list of what a town needs in order to thrive. Then figure out how to go about making these happen and all the difficulties and questions involved in doing so. Then go over all of these steps and make sure they are as sustainable as possible. Food, living spaces, bathrooms, water, technology, transportation... It's not easy. But it's what we are doing here and the learning experience that you will get out of it will change the way you see the world, the way you approach difficulties and the way you overcome obstacles.

Kalu Yala puts to the test everything I believe in when striving for an alternative and healthier way of life. Have no expectations, don't take anything for granted.
Be open to challenge everything you know about community living & education.
Buy the ticket, take the ride!

What would you improve about this program?
Like any other company or community, there are a number of things that could be improved. But instead of listing them here, I can say that Kalu Yala works very hard at continually assessing it's shortcomings, evaluating it's progress and the efficiency of it's initiatives. It works on a trial and error basis, prototyping student and administrative ideas, and changing things along the way. Every semester is different based on what worked and what failed in the past. Kalu Yala has the humility to say: "we tried, it failed miserably, we asked why, everyone gave their opinion, and based on that we are now trying something different. Let's talk about how we can make it better! "
33 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Life Goals

My major in college was Recreation and Sports Management and my minor was sustainability. I came to Kalu Yala to be in the outdoor recreation program- so tell me this wasn't the perfect internship for me?! I came down unassuming about anything except that I would be living in the jungle during rainy season. I was greeted by many hugs and people genuinely happy for me to be there. From the very moment I got to Kalu Yala I could feel the authentic community around me. A community of people who wanted to learn, to incite change, to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and to be themselves. I spent the semester hiking, swimming, surfing, climbing, getting to know humans from all different backgrounds and schools of thought, and learned things that I will spend the rest of my life unpacking. At the end of the semester I did a short video interview with one of the other students as part of their project and they asked me what the hardest thing about being here was and I was at a loss for words. Sure some parts were difficult but I expected that so in hindsight they weren't "the hardest thing"- they were a learning moments.
Before Kalu Yala friends and family would ask me what I wanted to do when I graduated and I would shrug and reply with, "I'm not sure, I just want to play outside!" Kalu Yala (or something like it) became my goal and what I wanted to do. And I found that here.
10/10 would recommend.

What would you improve about this program?
Well there's a lot of things. It's a place trying to become a sustainable town. Improving is a goal on a daily basis and it's what the staff and interns are there working towards.
34 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The internship that changed my life... Health and Wellness with Kalu Yala

Taking an internship with the Kalu Yala Health and Wellness team in rural Panama is probably my best decision to date. Living and working in a small community in the countryside taught me new approaches to community building and gave me a much greater, more nuanced understanding of development. The Health and Wellness program challenged me to expand my vision, dismantle my preconceived notions about my role in the community, and push myself to flourish far outside my comfort zone. I wish everyone could have the kind of humbling and radically empowering experience that Kalu Yala gave me!

34 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Former Intern at Kalu Yala

Kalu Yala has opened up a whole new way of living for me. During my time as an intern I met the most passionate, creative and determined people who influenced me professionally and individually. I was surprised on how quickly I became friends with complete strangers in three months. I was there during the rainy season which I tested my personal and mental strength. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and adapt to the living situation. Which was not always easy. I had to get use to living with bugs, animals, lack of personal space, mud, jungle life, being away from family and friends, and a whole bunch more. I learned so much about sustainability and how to look at life with a different perspective. I am grateful for my time as an intern at KY.

What would you improve about this program?
The camp is currently being designed to be a town eventually. So there is a lot of room for growth. The programs are being developed and improved everyday and you can tell by how hard the staff works. They are passionate about what they do.
34 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

10 weeks

The costs change semester to semester, I suggest you email them at hello@kaluyala.com

Different semesters have different numbers of people applying and so do different programs. Generally the summer semester has the most people wanting to come, but program popularity can vary a lot from one semester to the next. Overall, though, about 1/4-1/3 will be interviewed after applying, and about 1/4-1/3 of people will be accepted and attend.