Round River initiated its conservation program in Costa Rica in 2016, at the invitation of Osa Conservation. Called “the most biologically intense place on earth” by National Geographic, the Osa Peninsula is a true jewel of land, water, and life. Covering an area of just 700 square miles on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Peninsula harbors 2.5 percent of the biodiversity of the entire planet. Its forests, beaches, and mangroves are home to jaguar, puma, ocelot, Baird’s tapir, White-lipped and collared peccary, Tamandua and silky anteater, coati, four species of monkey and sea turtle, respectively, and almost 500 birds.
Round River students assist Osa Conservation in their efforts to monitor wildlife and restore habitat on the peninsula through projects such as river otter habitat use, reforestation monitoring, bird diversity surveys, and camera trapping. They also assist Costa Rica’s Sustainable Biodiversity Fund in their efforts to document biodiversity on enrolled fincas, and support beneficiaries in alternative livelihood activities. Read more below “What to Expect.”
Round River’s primary research camp is located at Piro, Osa Conservation’s main field station. This site is well situated and offers easy walking access to the beaches, as well as proximity to Osa Conservation’s trail network. RR maintains a secondary research camp at Lomas del Sierpe, an Osa Conservation property on the north end of Gulfo Dulce adjacent to Piedras Blancas National Park. Students also spend time at remote field sites and Sustainable Biodiversity Fund fincas on and around the Osa Peninsula, as well as a handful of nights in the town of Puerto Jiménez.
Students should be physically and mentally prepared for living in the tropics: hiking, backpacking, and camping while dealing with humidity, heat, rain, mosquitoes and other insects, and rough terrain. Students will be rewarded by the incredible natural beauty that surrounds them, and the intense biodiversity for which the Osa Peninsula is renowned. Experiencing Costa Rica as a Round River student will provide you with an enriching experience incomparable to traveling as a tourist.
Academics are designed to support our field research. Round River instructors and senior staff deliver lectures, lead field-based learning, and guide discussions throughout the program. Students should expect two to four lectures per week, along with readings, discussions, assignments, and exams. At the end of the program, students analyze data collected and write a research report, which may be presented to Osa Conservation staff and/or other partners.
In addition to biological field work and academics, students will experience the ecological and cultural history of Costa Rica first hand, guided by local residents, farmers, and researchers.
All lectures and field activities will be conducted in English. Spanish language skills are not required but are strongly encouraged. Having even a basic understanding of Spanish will allow students to interact more deeply with locals (including Osa Conservation staff and researchers).