This trip will take you on an ecological adventure through the lush rainforest and volcanic peaks of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. You’ll have the chance to learn about sustainability and environmentalism while experiencing a dizzying array of outdoor adventure activities, from ziplining to stand-up paddle boarding. After starting out in the historical gem of Granada, you will travel to the volcanic island of Ometepe, whose name literally means ‘two volcanoes’ in the Nahuatl language. The journey will then take you across the border to Costa Rica, one of the world’s most biodiverse countries and a leading destination in ecotourism. In the magnificent cloud forest of Monteverde, your naturalist guide will help you spot an abundance of wild species as you experience the landscape through exhilarating outdoor adventures. Your next stop will be the town of La Fortuna, a small agricultural town located ​​4 miles (6km) from the base of the famous Arenal volcano. This region is an animal lover’s paradise with its variety of unique species from sleepy sloths to creeping crocodiles. By combining outdoor adventure with environmental education, this trip will give you the chance to discover the dazzling natural beauty of Costa Rica and Nicaragua while inspiring you to take action to preserve these lands for future generations.

Highlights of the Trip

  • Enjoy a canopy walk and zipline through the magnificent cloud forest
  • Trek along an active volcano and look for unique wildlife in the jungle
  • Participate in educational talks on conservation, biodiversity, and the environment  
  • Connect with locals by visiting community tourism projects 
  • Experience the biologically rich island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua

Key Pillars

Service: Deepen your understanding of MEDLIFE’s work through educational discussions. Your trip also directly contributes to our work bringing healthcare, education, and a safe home to communities.

Environment: This trip will take you to leading destinations in ecotourism as you learn about sustainability, biodiversity, and conservation through educational discussions.

Education:Learn about local culture through visits to community tourism projects. Your naturalist guides will also share their knowledge of the geological and biological influences that have shaped the environments you visit.

Life-changing experiences: This trip will leave you awe-struck by nature and inspire you to protect the beautiful landscapes and unique species that are increasingly vulnerable to climate change.

Itinerary In Brief

Day 1: Saturday

Your adventure begins in Granada with a welcome briefing at 6pm. After reviewing the itinerary together, enjoy a welcome dinner as you get to know other group members and the tour leader.

Overnight in Granada




Day 2: Sunday

Take the morning to explore the cobblestoned streets of Granada, Nicaragua’s oldest town. In the afternoon, travel to Rivas to catch the ferry across Lake Nicaragua to the island of Ometepe. Shaped like an hourglass, the island is comprised of twin volcanic peaks rising out of the lake. The fertile volcanic soil sustains a rich jungle ecosystem with a diverse wildlife population including monkeys and parrots. Your certified guide will introduce you to the natural wonders of the land and surrounding waters. You’ll also have the chance to learn about the daily lives of the farmers and fishermen who call this island home.

Overnight on Ometepe Island



Day 3: Monday

Continue exploring Ometepe Island today by selecting from a range of optional educational activities. Perhaps take a hike up to the summit of either the Concepcion or Maderas volcanoes, but be warned, these steep and challenging treks are no walk in the park! You might prefer to splash around in the natural springs, soak up the sun on the shore, or check out the island’s ancient rock carvings. In the evening, the group will head to a local indigenous community for a cooking class. You will have the chance to learn traditional techniques used to make Nicaraguan dishes like nacatamales, a dough-based snack often filled with meat and steamed in banana leaves. Wind down after an action-packed day by sharing a tasty meal with community members. 

Overnight on Ometepe Island



Day 4: Tuesday

Wake up bright and early for a day of travel! The group will take a ferry to the mainland and transfer to Penas Blancas where we will cross the border into Costa Rica and board a private minibus for the five hour journey to Monteverde. After arriving in town and taking a moment to rest and freshen up, your certified guide will take you on an educational walking tour of Monteverde. Located in Costa Rica’s lush cloud forest, Monteverde is one of the world’s leading ecotourism destinations. 

Overnight in Monteverde



Day 5: Wednesday

Get ready for an adrenaline-filled day of exploring the magical cloud forest! After breakfast, we’ll head to Sky Trek Adventures Arenal Park where your journey will begin by riding an open-air gondola from the ground to the highest point of the mountain. Here, you’ll be dropped off at an observation area to admire the spectacular forest views as your naturalist guide introduces you to the ecology of the area. You will then have the chance to ride an exhilarating zipline circuit that stretches across canyons, going from one mountain to another, and in between treetops. In the afternoon, continue learning about the biology of this unique environment, looking out for hummingbirds, quetzals and even lazy sloths among the mist. You may even choose to return after dusk with your guide to seek the animals and insects that only come out at night!

Overnight in Monteverde



Day 6: Thursday

Enjoy a free morning to explore and learn about sustainability in Monteverde, from organic farming practices to clean energy usage. In the afternoon, the group will begin the journey to La Fortuna, taking the scenic route along the shores of Lake Arenal. You’ll take a boat across the lake and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area before continuing the minibus journey onward. La Fortuna is a small town situated just a few minutes from Costa Rica’s most famous volcano – the majestic Arenal. 

Overnight in La Fortuna



Day 7: Friday

Take advantage of a free day of activities in La Fortuna. The region is rich in natural beauty, with stunning lush forest. Animal lovers will have a good chance of spotting sloths, monkeys, crocodiles and basilisk lizards skipping across the water on a boat tour of Cano Negro Reserve. For another perspective of the landscape, you could participate in water-based sports on Lake Arenal, like stand-up paddle boarding with the incredible backdrop of the volcano and rolling green hills. If you prefer to spend the day relaxing, the volcanic geology of the region means that there are plenty of hot springs to enjoy. Whatever option you choose, you will have the chance to delve deeper into the unique geology and ecology of the region. 

Overnight in La Fortuna



Day 8: Saturday

The adventure has come to an end. After breakfast, depart La Fortuna and transfer to San Jose for onward travel or a Service Learning Trip

Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.