Saturday, 11 February 2012

We have liftoff

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.


  1. For Matt Moore (Alpha 2). Hope I've worked out how to do this... Looks like a fab trek and can't wait for updates. All very jealous of your adventures here in cold, cold London. No good news for us on the footie front this weekend: Chelsea pathetically lost 2-0 to Everton and are now 5th after Arsenal won. Spurs beat Newcastle 5-0(!) and Man U beat Liverpool. (City play tomorrow). Maybe you've heard all this already? Meanwhile, good news you'll be pleased about is that Jenni got into Bristol! Lots of love from all at home, Mum xxx

  2. Alpha 3 - Jon Baguley

    Hey Baggers! Just a quick one to say GOOD LUCK on your first trek and I hope it all goes to plan, no more Ant bites i hope! I'm off on a trek of my own here in Thailand but only 3 days! I will think of you and what you have to put up with! Very proud of you, lots of Love Nicole xxx

  3. alpha 7
    Sonia Deiters

    heey lieve Son!!
    Ben je aan het genieten?? Natuurlijk ben je dat!! Eventjes een update vanuit het alweer besneeuwde Amsterdam: het is koud, gister was een schaatswedstrijd op de keizersgracht. De HK mist je, en iedereen is hier ziek. dus ik denk dat jij nu op de beste plek bent en dat je gewoon keihard moet gaan genieten!! Wel chill trouwens dat je nu in een comunity phase zit, dus je bent niet jarig tijdens de trek ;)
    Kusss Clak

  4. For Josie Killen ( alpha 8 ) hope you are getting used to the early mornings lol, miss you lots, house is very quiet without you....keep smiling love mum and dad xxx

  5. Fleur Jansen (environmental project in Amistad)

    Lieve Fleur!!! Ik hoop dat het goed gaat met je, ik ben zo trots op je dat je dit doet. Heel veel succes, je kan het! Hier gaat het top, lekker weer en leuke mensen, dit weekend op zo'n mooi eiland geweest. Ik mis je, XXXXXX Tessa

  6. Alpha 8 - Vale Vasquez

    Regalame un segundo por favor... preciosa!... Yo a ti te conozco de antes he visto esos ojos andantes, te conozco de antes tal vez de un tiempo en que lo nuestro no se lograba, tal vez de un tiempo en que mi memoria te deseaba, tal vez de un tiempo en que el lenguaje no hablaba, tal vez ni tiempo fueee... Te conozco de antes y ahora espero que estes de lo mejor, disfrutando cada día y bueno creo que eso es una experiencia que te está llenando mucho. Siga con esa gran energía que te identifica, cumpliendo tus metas y alcanzando cometas. "Siempre tenemos un norte" ud sabe que es lo que quiere y bueno tienes que seguir poniéndole para alcanzarlo. En las fotos se ve que estas disfrutando demasiado y eso está buenísimo. Bueno se cuida mucho y un gran abrazote, cuando vuelvas quiero saber cómo estuvo ese ambiente en Nicaragua, me han contado que es muy tuanis... "Tener tus ojos debe ser ilegal
    y mas si cuando miras solo inspiras a pecar"... Chao! ;)

  7. for josie killen alpha 8 hey sis hows you everyone is askin how you are hows the burnt face lol hope your having fun on your project poppy has me as her new favorite since u aint here lol miss and love u loads xxxxx p.s. i aint got your job while your away mario said i wasnt needed xxxxxxx



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