Straight, easily confirmed facts about Kalu Yala:

  • Kalu Yala has hosted over 700 students at our Institute since 2010. Anyone is free to contact us for a list of our alumni to talk to.  All new student interviews are conducted by alumni. 30% of our staff are alumni from the program.
  • 92% of students would recommend Kalu Yala to a friend. According to reviews, we are one of the top ranked study abroad programs in the world.
  • You can see real reviews from each semester, both from staff and students, at these websites: and
  • 97.5% of students successfully complete their semester at Kalu Yala.
  • Our instructors are all passionate about the environment, sharing their knowledge, and making the world a better place. They have lectured at top universities, served in the Peace Corps, sold companies they founded, published books, and managed to forge careers that align with their values.
  • At $6,995 for all instruction, room and board, and project materials, Kalu Yala cost well below half the average of comparable study abroad programs.
  • Our carbon footprint per capita, including everyone's flights, is only 8% compared to the average American.
  • There are a small number of negative things written about us online by people who have never been to Kalu Yala. These people were misinformed by a reality TV show that told a fake story about us.  See the videos below to hear what real students say about the real place.
  • It's easy to tell which comments were written by people who have been here versus those who haven't. There are only 3 negative reviews online written by real alumni...out of the 700+ who have attended. When you search for "Kalu Yala" you only see average 4 to 5 star reviews for everything that we do, including our food, events, and our camp!
23 successful semesters to date
Over 700 students from...
30 Countries and all 50 states
of alumni would recommend
positive reviews on
of staff are alumni
course completion rate

So Why Is There Negative Stuff Online?

In 2016, VICE came to Kalu Yala and filmed a docu-series called “Jungletown.” 

Almost every negative post is from someone who has never been to Kalu Yala and is writing about the tv show.

The $3 billion company told us our environmental mission was just what they wanted to support. What they really wanted was a free location with 100 fascinating characters to choose from... who they didn't have to pay to be filmed. They filmed 1,400 hours of footage. Then they cut all that footage down to 9 hours of television. Instead of a documentary, the world got a reality show that is nothing like Kalu Yala.  

Since then, we have hosted another 200 students over 5 more semesters and the results are the same as before: our alumni love us, we hire many of them to live here, even more are on our interview team, and they drive our community forward toward creating a more positive future.

Almost every negative post is from someone who has never been to Kalu Yala and is writing about the tv show.

What Students Say

See more student reviews at and

“This experience is far superior to a typical study abroad because it allows the individual to control their own education. I gained unbelievable skills crucial for my development in business and was able to network with great people. Overall, this experience is enriching because of the people, the places, and the work we were doing in sustainability. I believe it is more rewarding than the typical study abroad in Europe.”

Bailey York
Business & Entrepreneurship Student

The best thing that Kalu Yala has done for me is giving me the time and space to be around people and ideas that have never made it into my life before. I have never been to a place that empowers young people like Kalu Yala. I'm so inspired everyday to see what all the young people coming through can do when you simply show them that you believe in their ideas and that they have your support. The ripple effect of this and what is happening here is radical and revolutionary. This is a place where people really try to embody the change that they want to see in the world.

Samantha Picker
Public Health and Wellness Student

What Parents Say

Are you a parent? Check out our Parents Guide to Kalu Yala.

"My daughter’s time at Kalu Yala introduced her to the knowledge, contacts, and confidence she needed to start a business in Panama. Though she left Kalu Yala after her semester, both the institute and Jimmy continued to be a resource for her, and have treated her as family. As a parent, it’s comforting to know my daughter has a growing community of passionate and ambitious people around the world she can rely on."

-Jeanie Stankovitch | Gainesville, Florida

"John having to create a project from scratch and follow it through to completion had the impact of teaching him what the real world was like while giving him the support of a school."  

-Lee Cook | Atlanta, Georgia

"Mary Ann is now living her dream of working in sales in the Napa Valley where she gets to be part of the agriculture business using her natural networking skills."

-Dot Turrentine | Elkin, North Carolina

Take a Peek Inside Our World...
to see what real students say about Kalu Yala!


Building a New World in the Panamanian Jungle

What Took You So Long?

See a semester at Kalu Yala through the lens of Spring 2018 student Ruby Rose Foster!

Have questions about Kalu Yala?

We are more than happy to chat about anything that might be on your mind. Reach out to our student and alumni-run team at