This expedition will focus on wilderness medical and survival issues, with an emphasis on tropical medicine. Topics include hyperthermia, infectious diseases, drowning, trauma, musculoskeletal soft tissue issues, dislocations/fractures, wild animal attacks, zoonosis, SAR, and much more.

Earn a nationally-recognized certificate in Advanced Wilderness First Aid from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In addition to focusing on wilderness medicine, participants will also learn whitewater safety and paddling skills, knot tying, and tropical natural history.

The class starts and ends at the San Jose, Costa Rica airport. From there we’ll take a chartered bus to Hacienda Baru, a rustic eco-lodge which boasts its own Pacific beach, miles of trails, zip lines, a small restaurant/bar, and a delightful pool. We’ll spend mornings and evenings in class, leaving most afternoons free for swimming, surfing, hiking, studying, or just hanging out. In addition to medical classes we’ll enjoy a tree top canopy tour and zip line, night hikes, a natural history tour, and whitewater rafting

Ground transportation, shared lodging, meals, and adventure activities provided. Participants are responsible for transportation to San Jose, alcohol, personal clothing, and optional AWLS certification costs and surf lessons and/or board rental. Enrollment is limited to 18 participants to allow for optimal small group learning, authentic wilderness experiences, and efficient travel and logistics.

: Enjoy the best of Costa Rica, including jungle hikes, whitewater rafting, and gorgeous Pacific beaches, while learning about wilderness medicine and earning Advanced Wilderness First Aid certification. Learn wilderness and austere medicine skills in a real-world, tropical jungle setting, taught by University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty. Experience jungle hikes, tree top canopy tours and zip line, night walks, natural history tours, whitewater paddling, and optional surfing or surf lessons. All costs from San Jose covered, including local transport, shared lodging, meals, adventure tours, instruction, and group gear. No experience necessary.

Who: Open to all health professional (physicians, nurses, PAs, EMTs, etc.) Medical students and residents especially encouraged to enroll. Family members welcome at reduced cost.

Why: Get out of the COVID rut by learning practical, real-world skills in a fun and collegial atmosphere. Develop outdoor expertise and experience a beautiful and amazingly diverse wilderness environment. Earn Advanced Wilderness First Aid. Sample of skills learned and topics covered: Improvised litters, field spinal assessment, whitewater paddling skills, dislocation reductions, splinting, hypo-wraps, survival, water procurement, search and rescue, and infectious diseases.

Cost: $1995


  • Ground transportation from San Jose
  • Shared lodging at Hacienda Baru Eco-lodge
  • All meals and food
  • Adventure activities – tree-top canopy tours, zip line, night hikes, jungle natural history, white water rafting, and optional surfing or surfing lessons


The class tuition is inclusive, covering in-country transportation, shared lodging, tips, all meals, group and safety gear, and program activities described above.  It does not include personal clothing/gear, airfare to Costa Rica, departure tax ($29 at time of writing), medical/evacuation insurance, any alcohol, or incidentals/activity expenditures accrued during limited free time.

Travel to Costa Rica

We will meet participants at the Juan Santamaría International Airport, Costa Rica’s main airport just outside the capital, San Jose.

Our chartered bus will be leaving the airport at 1 pm sharp.  If your flight is delayed and you miss the bus we will need to charter you a car, the cost of which will be your responsibility (~ $200).  For that reason we recommend you arrive in Costa Rica the night before. We will be happy to help make hotel and airport pick-up arrangements, the costs of which are the responsibility of the student.

While it is not recommended, students can arrive late and/or depart early with special permission.  A shuttle to/from Hacienda Baru and any overnight accommodations near the airport can be arranged, but costs would be the responsibility of the student.

Daily Schedule

The Costa Rica program is an intense learning experience.  This is not a vacation!  Classes will typically run from 8 or 9 am to 4 or 5 pm and will include some early morning hikes, evening lectures, and optional night hikes.  Three meals a day will be served at the lodge restaurant (see below for more information).  While there will be lots of fun and adventures, participants must be prepared for strenuous and challenging learning throughout the program.  Please refer to the course schedule for more details.

Accommodations and Food

Accommodations, as well as meal service, will be at Hacienda Baru (, a lovely if simple eco-lodge situated on 800 acres between jungle highlands and its own Pacific beach.  Participants will be in two to three bedroom cabins; each cabin has its own bathroom with shower, a kitchenette, a fan, and small common area.  Participants will randomly be assigned to single gender, shared rooms.  We will do our best to provide single gender cabins, but cannot promise that will be possible.

Three hot meals are provided daily (with the exception of the first and last day of class).  At Hacienda Baru there is a healthy, very hearty, but somewhat limited menu to choose from for meals.  Vegetarian options are always available, and while no promises can be made, we will attempt to accommodate special dietary needs.

Experiential Learning Experiences

This is not a typical (i.e., boring!) lecture-style college class.  If so, why go all the way to Costa Rica just to sit in a lecture hall?  No, this emergency and wilderness medicine class is ACTIVE!  If a student is looking to be a passive learner, sitting back and just taking notes, s/he would best look elsewhere.

While there will be some didactic lectures, a common and integral part of this class are experiential learning experiences.  These will include demonstrations, case studies, scenarios, and wilderness activities.  Particularly these latter learning experiences will involve participants being active, ranging from acting as a patient on the ground, to lifting/carrying “patients” (or acting as one), to participating in adventure activities including tree top canopy tours (, jungle hikes, and whitewater rafting (, Savage River).

Students need to be able to bend to the ground, help carry a patient, climb short ladders, hike uneven/slippery terrain, and get in and out of river rafts.

For all experiential learning experiences, we will practice “challenge by choice,” meaning that participants can participate to the degree they are comfortable and/or able.  This does not mean participants won’t be pushing their comfort zones—we will actively promote that!—but that no one is going to be forced to do something for which they are unprepared or feel pressured into doing.  In these cases will do our best to adapt activities so that the participant can participate in some modified manner.

Free Time

Limited free time will be made available most days to allow for siestas, informal student discussion, swimming at the lodge pool or beach, hiking, or just hanging out. During free time participants will be on their own safety-wise, thus a buddy system will be encouraged (required for swimming).

Potential Hazards

There are a number of inherent hazards involved in travel, visiting a tropical country, and participating in emergency and wilderness medicine training.  These include, but are not limited to, in-country transportation, swimming, experiential learning activities, illnesses related to travel and the tropics, bites and stings, hiking, and crime.

Thankfully, Costa Rica, particularly the area we will be visiting, enjoys very little crime and a healthy environment.  See below for more health information.

We will take active and robust measures to protect against hazards including careful site and activity selection, conservative decision-making and program rules, protective equipment, and especially student education.  Program leaders are well experienced.  Dr. Miner has led over a half dozen trips to Costa Rica and over a dozen in total to Central and South America.

Health and Costa Rica

Like most of the Caribbean, Central and South America, Costa Rica has had a recent series of Zika cases.  If you are pregnant, or planning on having children in the next year, we would advise you not to travel to Costa Rica.  The majority of cases of Zika in adults are low risk, resulting in no symptoms.  For adults who do develop symptoms, most people experience a mild flu like illness associated with a rash and red eyes.  We would advise you to talk to your doctor about any medical concerns prior to travel.  Please contact us if you have any other questions.


Course Directors will both be carrying cell phones.  We’ll also have a group first aid kit.  A clinic and hospital are within a half hour to hour from Hacienda Baru.

Clothing and Gear

Light is right.  For this class participants need very little in the way of clothing or gear.  In terms of clothing: a few pairs of shorts, a few short sleeve shirts, optional long pants and shirt for bug/sun protection, tennis shoes, a pair of sandals, socks, and underwear.  In terms of gear/supplies: a day pack, sun protection (hat, sun glasses, sun block), writing instrument and notebook, watch, toiletries, bug repellant, personal first aid kit (band-aids, pain relief, etc.), a travel towel, and some optional items.  A full clothing and gear list, including recommended optional items, is included.

Required Paperwork

US citizens, coming from the US, need a current passport; no visa is required.  For citizens of other countries, or for US citizens traveling directly to Costa Rica from some South American, African, or Asian countries, please check with the US State Department (

Travel Insurance

All participants are required to purchase mandatory travel insurance through University of Colorado to participate in this program. The following are instructions on how to obtain this insurance:

GeoBlue offers an appropriate travel plan called Voyager for non-CU students traveling to Costa Rica on the CU sponsored trip.  Premium is based on trip length, age, zip code and offers students a choice of deductibles. Please go to this website: where, on the top menu, you should select “Services”, then, on the left menu, select “Other Insurances” and, at the bottom of the page, select “GeoBlue Travel Insurance for Students and Faculty”. Once in the GeoBlue website, the non CU students would select “Voyager / Single Trip” to generate a quote and purchase their trip insurance.  Please note: the “Voyager Choice” plan requires that students are currently enrolled in a Primary Health Plan, whereas the “Voyager Essential” plan is for students who are not currently covered by a Primary Health Plan. 

To do 3 months prior to departure :

  • Ensure passport and any other necessary travel documents are current through 6 months after your departure from Costa Rica.
  • Visit your personal health care provider with this trip in mind. Take care of vaccinations, prescriptions, and any medical issues (see below)
  • Make travel arrangements to Costa Rica, including travel insurance
  • Complete and return Waiver and Student Information Form (will be sent to you shortly)
  • MANDATORY – Purchase international medical and evacuation insurance through UC Denver (see Detailed Program Information) and send a copy of your confirmation to
  • Refer to this link for more information.

To do 2 months prior to departure:

  • Get dental check-up and take care of any dental issues
  • Review the packing list (see below) and be sure you have all necessary items
  • Review and confirm your travel itinerary
  • Submit your travel itinerary and a photocopy of your passport to

Entry to Costa Rica Requirements (as of March 1, 2021):

U.S. citizens from all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C. are allowed to enter Costa Rica via flights from the United States or other countries. Visitors arriving to Costa Rica do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Visitors traveling to Costa Rica need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica. In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USDand, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USDfor extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness. It is also possible to purchase a Costa Rican medical insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS)or Sagicorof Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. Please send an email to seguros@ict.go.crfor questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted in Costa Rica. In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, U.S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days. (To prove intent to exit, U.S. citizens must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket).

Requirements for Return to US(as of March 1, 2021):

Effective January 26, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)will require all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over prior to boarding. Airlines must deny boarding of passengers who do not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery

Please see CDC’s FAQfor answers to questions about the new requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

If needed, will make arrangements for a shuttle from our ecolodge at Hacienda Baru to a nearby city for a COVID test in time to return to the States on the 16th. Costs for the medical insurance policy and for a COVID test are the responsibility of the participant.


Costa Rica requires mandatory quarantine housing insurance, costing approximately $80, for the length of time of the class.  This is unfortunately different than, and not covered by, the GeoBlue Insurance.  
In addition, to return to the US a negative COVID test is required.  We will provide access to the test, but its cost and that of its potential results, is the responsibility of the participant.  For more information please see the section below labeled ‘COVID-19’

Questions? Reach out to us today!

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