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Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica

Rancho Mastatal is an environmental learning and sustainable living center, retreat, and lodge located in the last virgin rainforest of Costa Rica's Puriscal County. Rancho Mastatal practices and promotes living responsibly in the tropics, while educating its visitors about the significance and majesty of the world's disappearing tropical forests. The site encompasses 500+ acres of picture-perfect waterfalls, crystal-clear rivers, and impressive trees in the transition zone between very wet and pre-montane rainforest in one of Costa Rica's most undiscovered regions. The property shares a significant border with the splendid La Cangreja National Park, a protected area providing habitat for a number of endangered animals and flora, and containing some 2,000 plant species and varied fauna. Rancho Mastatal maintains 19-kilometers of rainforest trails, connecting to a network of footpaths in La Cangreja.

On site and in the community, they build using natural techniques, including the use of bamboo and cob, and support the use of renewable energy systems. In their ongoing commitment to education and instruction, they organize and sponsor a wide array of workshops ranging from alternative design and construction to Wilderness First Response Certification, and work with schools in both the United States and Costa Rica in offering customized educational programs on rainforest ecology, Latin culture, and Spanish and English as a second language. Rancho Mastatal welcomes volunteers, graduate students, interns, and all others in search of a memorable and unique tropical experience.

Our schedule is designed to give you time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and people of Mastatal. We take a two-hour lunch/siesta/swimming break in the middle of each day. And we take the middle day of the workshop off from studying and projects, to go on recreational or cultural trips in the area.

Our past groups have experienced an educational, exciting, and inspiring time while having fun with a great group of people. If you need more information about the workshop program, contact Ian Woofenden at

Don't miss this great opportunity to learn about renewable energy applications for the developing world. Join us for an educational eco-vacation that you won't forget. We hope to see you in Costa Rica!

Lodging & Food at Rancho Mastatal

Our course fee includes food and dorm lodging for the duration of the workshop. If you would like private accommodations at additional cost, please e-mail Rancho Mastatal directly. Longer stays on either end can be arranged with advanced notice. Meals are primarily vegetarian and sumptuous.

Available accommodations for the workshop are at Jeannie's House, the Main House, and Leo's.

Apart from the above options, we can arrange for you to stay with a local family for 1-2 nights during the middle of your visit at an additional cost of $10 per night. Rancho Mastatal works with a number of local families to offer homestay opportunities for those that want to see, firsthand, how the wonderful people of Mastatal live. Students taking advantage of the opportunity to stay with families have the chance to work on their Spanish, eat traditional "tico" cuisine, and live, at least for a few days, as the locals do. This is an incredible chance to participate in a cultural exchange, while helping a local family to generate some additional income. Accommodations are comfortable, yet more rustic than at the Ranch. Students interested in this opportunity would eat dinner, sleep and eat breakfast with their host families before coming to the Ranch at approximately 8:30 a.m. for the beginning of class.  Please let us know if you would like us to arrange a homestay for you as part of your experience in Mastatal.

We will do our best to accommodate your requests at the time of booking. Please see their Web site at for much more information. Please note that the folks at the Ranch check email infrequently, so please make your reservations well before the beginning of the workshop.


In-country travel from the Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose (airport code SJO), Costa Rica to Rancho Mastatal and back to the airport on the last day of the workshop is included. Reasonable airfares from the United States to San Jose can be found from a variety of Web sites, airlines, and travel agents.

The Juan Santamaria International Airport, Costa Rica's main airport and where most international flights arrive, is located near the town of Alajuela. If you are coming into Costa Rica early, we think it's most convenient, pleasant, and safe to not go into San Jose (15 kilometers/$25 taxi away) for lodging after arriving to Costa Rica. There are a number of modestly priced places to stay near the airport, and Alajuela is arguably a nicer city than San Jose. Many hotels in Alajuela provide airport pick-ups and breakfast.

Phone and Internet

There is a public payphone and Internet cafe in the town of Mastatal.

Program information and logistics:

Ian Woofenden, SEI NW Workshops Coordinator

PO Box 1001, Anacortes, WA 98221



Travel Information

For more information on travel in Costa Rica, see:

Map of Costa Rica


Lodging upgrades and local information:

Tim O'Hara, Owner, Rancho Mastatal Environmental Learning Center and Lodge

Apdo. 185-6000, Puriscal, San Jose, Costa Rica

011 (506) 2410-6263