"Do you recommend that I bring a mosquito net?"
Ahhhh, the popular question about the torpo (Costa Rican Spanish for "mosquito net")....
This easily falls in our top ten most frequently-asked packing list questions, so it's about time that we answered it in a public setting. This also leads us to explain another "optional" packing list item, the hammock.
The quick answer: you can come without both.
Students' course sleeping facilities include:
- homestay homes
- one of our bases (in San Jose or in Manuel Antonio)
- under tarps* in the rainforest
- inside tents* on beaches
Although tarps and some homestays do not provide enclosed protection against "flying critters," these locations [where such sleeping facilities are provided] are not heavily populated with mosquitoes. Rainforest conditions are not ideal for them, and they tend to inhabit the coasts. At these beach locations, our students sleep in either our Manuel Antonio base or tents. Both provide sufficient protection from mosquitoes.
However, in these same beach locations, some students opt to sleep outside in either a hammock (as shown in these Solarte, Panama photos of Leadership students who set up hammocks, both in our kitchen hut and out among the trees) or on a z-rest*. The reason being, the warm coastal climate can create an uncomfortable warm tent, and some students prefer to be outdoors which may provide more of a breeze. In these cases, we do recommend a mosquito net . Overall, the bugs are not bad, but they can come in unexpected waves.
If you decide to bring them along, here's what you should know when purchasing these items:
- Hammocks: This is a personal preference (based on sleeping on it and transporting it), but keep in mind that you will have to work with your unpredictable surroundings to set it up. (Read "How to Set Up a Hammock" article to familiarize yourself with the process.) Also, there are hammocks you can purchase with mosquito nets built on them. You can find these at some outdoor retailers.
- Mosquito nets: Purchasing them isn't too complicated. Find something that you can hang on a branch or rope over your hammock or z-rest. Torpos can also be found at outdoor retailers.
Sueños dulces. ("Sweet dreams.")
*provided by Costa Rica Outward Bound