Phase One has been deployed and Fieldbase is now a ghost town, as the buses rumbled out of Turrialba at the crack of dawn. We'll be seeing them at various points on road trips around Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but for the folks at home, here's what the Alphas will be up to:
Alpha One – Turrisantos Trek
Beginning with a challenging ascent through dense jungle in Barbilla National Park, Alpha One will then skirt to the east of Turrialba before passing Guayabo National Monument, Costa Rica’s largest archaeological site, and estimated to be around 3000 years old. They then enter Tapantí National Park for more wet and muddy jungle adventures before a final week tackling the ridges of the Fila de Bustamente towards Cerro Dragon, before bearing for the Pacific and the delights of Playa Matapalo.
Alpha Two – Corcovado Trek
Commencing in La Amistad National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Central America’s largest reserve, trekkers can admire the region’s dazzling biodiversity, tumbling cascades and hot springs. From here it is onwards through the agricultural plains of the Coto Brus valley before launching an assault cross-country over the Fila Costena mountain range. The best is arguably saved until last. The groups then descend to Corcovado National Park, the best preserved tropical rainforest on the Central American isthmus, before trekking their final three days along the serene coastline of Playas Madrigal, Carate and Piro, enjoying the waters of the Golfo Dulce at the finish.
Alpha Three – Carara National Park
Carara was established in 1978 as a biological reserve, but due to growing popularity it was subsequently given national park status in 1998; it is now the fourth most visited in the country. The park lies around 30 miles from the capital, San Jose and includes one of the largest remaining populations of wild scarlet macaw in the country - the dense tree growth of its primary rainforest providing the perfect home for other avian species including orange-chinned parakeets, jacamars and the black throated trogon.
This is Raleigh’s first project in the park since 2007, and Alpha Three will be working on an access trail to Lago Meandrico, alongside general maintenance work in the park. It is hoped that through the development of such facilities, there will be subsequent benefits to the local community in terms of income procured through increased visitor numbers.
Alpha Four – La Amistad National Park
A UNESCO world heritage site, and one of the remotest parts of Costa Rica, this is the first Raleigh project in La Amistad since 2006, continuing their partnership with SINAC (National System of Conservation Areas).
Parque International La Amistad is shared equally between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and is an important biological corridor protecting tropical habitats, ranging from cloudforest to paramo, alongside a wealth of biological resources, some unique to the area. In 2011, a landslide destroyed one of the main trails up to the Valle de Silencio, an important research area for scientists, and the difficulty of the park’s terrain generally, means that it is relatively unexplored.
During phase, Raleigh venturers will be working on a new trail to Casa Coca to improve access to the ranger station at Valle de Silencio.
Alpha Five – Volcan Barva Sector, Braulio Carrillio National Park
This project builds on Raleigh’s strong partnership developed over the past 7 years with ACCVC – Area Conservacion Cordillera Volcanica Central. Located in Costa Rica’s central valley, this stunning area of primary cloud forest plays host to a vast array of biodiversity, with habitats covered from nearly 3000m down to the calms of the Caribbean coast. It’s proximity to San Jose makes it a popular trip for international tourists, but the lure of the more popular Poás and Manuel Antonio National Parks means it is relatively undeveloped.
Living and working in the park, Alpha Five will be assisting rangers in the construction of a water system for their station, which will aid them in their aim of controlling and managing this important protected area.
Alpha Six – El Portillo, Achuapa, Nicaragua
Based in the communities of Las Tablas and El Portillo, Alpha Six will be supporting the community in an eco-latrine project that will not only provide sanitation to the 35 families in the villages – critical for the health of the community for generations to come, but can also be used to produce compost for fertilising crops and fruiting trees. Living with local families, they will be assisting with day-to-day chores and gaining a fascinating insight into a society different to their own.
Alpha Seven – La Naranjita, Miraflor, Nicaragua
Miraflor – ‘Paradise in the clouds’, was declared a natural reserve in 1990 at the request of its local people, such is the beauty of its resources. Within the reserve, communities have relatively few resources and lack access to basic services such as education and healthcare. They live by predominantly subsistence means, but supplement this through small tourism initiatives and coffee growing.
La Naranjita was just one of the communities affected by hurricanes at the latter end of 2011, and Alpha Seven will be working on a disaster relief project, rebuilding houses and assisting their host families with day-to-day chores.
Alpha Eight – San Jose, Miraflor Nicaragua
Another Miraflor based project sees the return of Raleigh, represented by Alpha Eight, to San Jose, where they will be building a multi-purpose building which will be used for adult education services and community meetings. Raleigh’s previous trip on Expedition 05J assisted the community in constructing a pre-school for children in the village, and this is a great opportunity to renew ties with some of the most welcoming, and hospitable people in the world.
We’ll be receiving updates from the groups in the coming days as they settle into life on phase, so check back soon.