Expedition Medicine Course

Expedition Medicine & Clinic - Gapforce programA new and exclusive skills training course at Gapforce, taking elements of our flagship Expedition Leader Training into a shorter 3 week program focusing on practical Expedition Medicine. Train in the application of practical wilderness medicine in the stunning jungle of Costa Rica.

Comprehensive and challenging, this course is for anyone looking to gain field experience in expedition medicine in the tropical environment and beyond.


  • Expedition Medical Theory
  • Practical emergency scenarios
  • Casualty evacuation (CASEVAC)
  • Jungle hazards
  • Machete use
  • Fire lighting
  • Wilderness health & hygiene
  • Wilderness camp craft
  • Survival training


Arrival, San Jose, Costa Rica

Fly into San Jose, capital of Costa Rica to be welcomed by your course instructors. There will be time to check your kit, explore the lively barrio of Alajuela then rest up before an early start the following morning.

Medical Theory, Puerto Viejo

The day after arrival, head out east to the Caribbean coast to the surf town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, our base of operations for the next 2 weeks.

Two days will be spent studying the theoretical aspects of first aid and expedition medicine while preparing to venture into the nearby rainforest

Basic Jungle Training, Jungle Camp

No-one can last long in the rainforest without the essential skills needed for day-to-day survival. Your first two days in the remote forest will feature intensive training in the arts of fire lighting, machete use, basha construction and wilderness health and hygiene. With jungle camp established and your skills sharpened, it will be time to begin the main phase of your medical training.

Medical training, Jungle Camp

Now the pressure ramps up with an intense 3 days of practical medical training in the challenging jungle environment. Training has a heavy focus on practical exercises requiring you to respond to realistic emergency scenarios, treat casualties, and mobilise evacuations. From common problems like heat-related illness to serious trauma, you will cover the range of medical problems you might encounter on expedition. You will be expected to respond quickly and effectively to sudden emergencies, day and night.


R&R, Puerto Viejo / Manzanillo

A couple of days’ break will be in order after the strenuous training. After extraction on foot from the jungle camp there will be time to chill in tropical paradise. Cycle to idyllic Manzanillo and hike the Caribbean coast.

Survival training, Jungle Camp

Next it’s back into the rainforest to develop the skills of survival in the most basic sense from indigenous experts. Learn to trap and fish; collect and purify water; and build shelters, developing your ability to thrive in wild places with only your wits (and a good sharp knife).

Reforestation Project, Bribri

In order to offset the carbon footprint of your flights and to give back to your host country, you will spend two days on a reforestation project in indigenous Bribri land near the Panamanian border.

Activities day, Puerto Viejo

A further day to enjoy the attractions of Puerto Viejo – hike, swim off Playa Negra, or catch the waves at the Salsa Brava surf break.


Incident response training, La Fortuna

Travel west to the town of La Fortuna on the slopes of Costa Rica’s largest volcano. Here your practical training recommences with incident response exercises, including water rescue exercises under the guidance of
Costa Rican rescue services and high-pressure scenarios deep underground within a cave system. This stage will put everything you’ve learned so far to the test, racking up the intensity to test your ability to act effectively in stressful situations.

R&R and farewell, La Fortuna

A last chance to explore this stunning area of natural beauty before a final night BBQ at a natural hot springs.

Transfer to San Jose & Departure

What’s included?

Pre-departure support • Training • Ground transport in Costa Rica • Accommodation • 3 meals a day • Financial bonding

What’s not included?

Flights • Travel insurance • Visa • Any vaccinations

Where will I be staying?

A mix of basic but good quality hostels and rugged jungle wild camps

What’s the food like?

Typical Costa Rican food includes lots of rice, meat, beans, vegetables and fruit, all with plenty of flavour. In jungle camps, food will be simple vegan recipes cooked over open fires. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be catered for, please check with us regarding further dietary requirements and/or allergies.

What type of transport will I be using?

You are responsible for getting yourself to and from the start point of the expedition. During the expedition, ground transport is included. Travel is a combination of day and overnight journeys using a range of transport including public and private buses and taxis. We’ll offset the carbon footprint of travel by planting trees on a reforestation project. Give us a call for more information on individual journey details.

What is is the recommended fitness level?

A good level of physical fitness is recommended. Expect heavy packs in and out of camp, extended periods of intense exercise during emergency scenarios, punishing heat and humidity and early mornings. You must be able to swim 200 m.

Why Choose the Expedition Medicine Course?

"I had an awesome time in Costa Rica. Lessons were informal and fun, and covered topics such as: medicine at altitude, tropical medicine, desert and diving medicine, and practical skills such as making stretchers, evacuation plans, suturing and the practicalities of remote medicine. We spent the first week at base camp in Puerto Viejo (a lovely little town), then the next two weeks in the jungle with the Trainee Expedition Leaders who taught us jungle skills such as fire lighting, fauna and flora, jungle observation, camp layout and machete work. We also had our own 3-day trek, which was tough, but very rewarding. Overall, I had an amazing time and wish I could go back there. We were taken care of very well and I learnt loads of valuable bush-craft skills as well as plenty of expedition medicine to set me up for the future!"

Heather, Bedfordshire, UK

Nurse review of Expedition Medic Course

Expedition Medic Course-I had a great experience during my expedition medicine course. We spent the first three weeks of my course learning the theory via lessons, workbooks, scenarios, quizzes plus on-going feedback from the instructor. This proved beneficial as the whole group, who all started with significant differences in medical knowledge, were able to learn and complete the course with a sound practical understanding of expedition medicine. The course instructor, Jade, is extremely knowledgeable with obvious working experience of both teaching and being an expedition medic. The course was well structured and Jade created a good, enjoyable learning environment.


Costa Rica wilderness/survival medicine trip

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and learnt much about what to consider when being a medic on an expedition. As the role of medic and expedition leader can be quite interchangeable - often trips will have one person doing both roles - a lot of our training focused on how to look after the group and things to consider when leading an expedition.I also learnt a lot about my own body and how I cope with such a tough environment, this was a very important lesson as it will help me to consider my group members and what health problems they could potentially encounter.


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View dates
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Departures: May, December

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