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COSTA RICA

A Taste of Costa Rica

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Road Scholar
Program #8577RJ
9 Days | 8 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
See all of our Most Popular programs.
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Elevations of up to 6,000 feet.

Itinerary for May 13 — May 21, 2015

Expand all
Type: Hotel

Description: Comfortable hotel located on the main pedestrian boulevard in downtown San Jose. Within walking distance of the National Theater and Gold Museum.

Contact info:
Avenida Central (between 7th & 9th Streets)
San Jose, 3344-1000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22225022
web: www.balmoral.co.cr

Room amenities: Private bathroom, hair dryer, air conditioning, cable TV, complimentary WiFi, minibar, safety deposit box, and telephone. Irons are not supplied in the rooms, but can be requested at the front desk.

Facility amenities: Conference rooms, restaurant, room service, complimentary WiFi, business center, gym, bar, casino, luggage storage, Concierge Desk, shops, and laundry services. Airport transfer services are available for an additional charge. This service can be booked directly through the hotel. Email requests should be sent to recepcion@balmoral.co.cr and should include pertinent flight information.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Subject to availability.
Room type and rates are subject to hotel availability. Please contact the program provider, Holbrook Travel, at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for assintance.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Wednesday, May 13 - Arrive to San José/Transfer to the hotel.
Arrive To: Arrive in San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. Please use the exit door on the right. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in, followed by time at leisure.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3 p.m.

Lodging: Hotel Balmoral

Type: Lodge

Description: Nature Lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms, surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.

Contact info:
Chilamate
Sarapiqui, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-2-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com

Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.

Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, bar, and private rainforest reserve with trails.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Two: Thursday, May 14 - San José & Depart for Sarapiqui - Gold Muse...
San José & Depart for Sarapiqui -
Gold Museum/The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor


Note: The bus transfer from San José to Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowlands, takes approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.


Morning: Orientation to the program.

Meet your group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Lecture: An Overview of Costa Rica.

Excursion to the Gold Museum with a site lecture.

This unique underground museum showcases an impressive collection of Pre-Colombian gold. The 2,000-piece collection weighs over 20,000 troy ounces making it one of the wealthiest spots in the nation. For the stamp collector, the complex also contains a philatelic museum, and coin collectors might be interested in the adjoining numismatic museum.

Transfer to Sarapiqui in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.


Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.


Afternoon: Continue with transfer to Sarapiqui.

Sarapiqui is one of the richest sites for birds in Middle America with well over 400 species recorded. Nearby, the La Selva Protection Zone and the Braulio Carrillo National Park form the only significant corridor of forest on the Caribbean slope linking the highlands with the lowlands, a corridor crucial to birds and animals that undertake seasonal altitudinal migrations.

Orientation to the lodge.

Lecture: The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.


Dinner: At the lodge.


Evening: Time at leisure. Meet with new Road Scholar friends on the porch, enjoy a nightcap while relaxing to the sounds of the rainforest, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for the full day tomorrow.

Lodging: Selva Verde Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Lodge

Description: Nature Lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms, surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.

Contact info:
Chilamate
Sarapiqui, 00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-2-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com

Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.

Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, bar, and private rainforest reserve with trails.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Three: Friday, May 15 - Sarapiqui - River Rafting/Cultural Interacti...
Breakfast: Early morning bird walk.

Breakfast at the lodge.


Morning: Grab a paddle and embark on an exhilarating river rafting excursion on the Sarapiqui River.

After breakfast, transfer to a rafting drop-off site along the shores of the Sarapiqui. Once on site, put on your assigned gear and listen to a safety orientation before getting started. A rafting expert will sit at the back of the raft and navigate. Participants will be invited to assist with paddling at various stretches along the river. Warning--this activity is guaranteed to give you an upper body workout, get you wet, and make you laugh out loud!

Return to the lodge.


Lunch: At the lodge.


Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy the lodge grounds. Settle into one of the lodge's comfy hammocks, cool off in the pool, practice your photography skills, or use this opportunity to do some bird watching.

This afternoon, visit the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) to meet with locals for a "charla."

In Spanish "charla" means "chat." During this informative session, led by a local community member, you will learn about life in Sarapiqui. Topics include local ecosystems, immigration, domestic life, and local artisan work. A Q&A session concludes the activity, fostering international communication and understanding.

The Sarapiqui Learning Center (SCLC). Founded by Giovanna Holbrook in the mid-1990s, the SCLC is a registered non-profit organization whose mission is to link communities and conservation through education and ecotourism in the Sarapiqui region. Programs include environmental education, ecotourism activities, English classes, an ecology club, community outreach, a women's group and many others.


Dinner: At the lodge.


Evening: Latin dance lessons with locals.

Participants learn three styles of Latin dance: Meringue, Salsa, and Cumbia. Local dancers first demonstrate the style of dancing, then lead the group through the dance step by step, and finally have a chance to practice with a partner.

Lodging: Selva Verde Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Arenal Paraiso Hotel is located just a few minutes from La Fortuna town and near the Arenal Volcano National Park. Accommodations are provided in small casitas--all with views of the famous volcano. Landscaped grounds feature lush tropical vegetation that provides both privacy and visual interest.

Contact info:
From the Catholic Church in town of La Fortuna 7 km road to the volcano
Arenal, 000000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-24791100
web: www.arenalparaiso.com

Room amenities: Hair dryer, mini refrigerator, porch, cable TV, safety deposit box, coffee maker, and air conditioning.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, 3 pools, bar, zip line, conference room, laundry services, and spa.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Four: Saturday, May 16 - Arenal - Sarapiqui River Boat Excursion/Visit to...
Arenal - Sarapiqui River Boat Excursion/Visit to a Local Plantation/Introduction to Arenal Volcano.

Note: The bus transfer from Sarapiqui to Arenal takes approximately 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the lodge.


Morning: After breakfast we will check out from the lodge and transfer to the Puerto Viejo dock for our next adventure.

Board a river boat and enjoy a leisurely journey on the Sarapiqui River looking for wildlife.

After your boat safari, transfer to a local plantation to examine the environmental and economic impacts of agriculture in Costa Rica.

Begin transfering to the Arenal area.


Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.


Afternoon: After lunch continue transfering to Arenal.

Arenal was once Costa Rica's most active volcano and a main draw to the town of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park. The volcano lords over the countryside with its perfectly conical shape and occasional smoke and gas emissions. While minor activity excites visitors, they are rarely acknowledged by the locals who have learnt to accept the antics of the volcano as part of their daily lives. The thermal waters emanating from the volcano, the clean air and the energy associated with Arenal, makes this a favorite destination for health spa enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Time at leisure.

Lecture: History of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.


Dinner: At the hotel.


Evening: Time at leisure.

Lodging: Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Arenal Paraiso Hotel is located just a few minutes from La Fortuna town and near the Arenal Volcano National Park. Accommodations are provided in small casitas--all with views of the famous volcano. Landscaped grounds feature lush tropical vegetation that provides both privacy and visual interest.

Contact info:
From the Catholic Church in town of La Fortuna 7 km road to the volcano
Arenal, 000000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-24791100
web: www.arenalparaiso.com

Room amenities: Hair dryer, mini refrigerator, porch, cable TV, safety deposit box, coffee maker, and air conditioning.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, 3 pools, bar, zip line, conference room, laundry services, and spa.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Five: Sunday, May 17 - Arenal - Arenal Hanging Bridges/Dinner with ...
Breakfast: At the hotel.


Morning: After breakfast, spend a full morning exploring the nature trails at Arenal Hanging Bridges and enjoying scenic views of the Arenal Volcano from one of the reserve's many bridges.

This private nature reserve in La Fortuna de San Carlos features a network of standing bridges, hanging bridges, and trails that crisscross 250 hectares of tropical rainforest. The park’s mission is to provide natural history education in a responsible and sustainable way. Visitors are able to view the rainforest from different angles and heights, from ground level to canopy level, learning firsthand about this fascinating and biologically diverse environment.


Lunch: At the hotel.


Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy the hotel's hot springs.

Field trip to a local farm to learn about the history of the farm and the agricultural practices of this fertile region.

The small and painteresque town of Fortuna has changed quite a bit from the village that witnessed the eruptions of Arenal Volcano in 1968. Once a small agricultural community, Fortuna has grown in the shadow of the colossus that once burned and devastated large areas. Tourism is precisely the most important income for the region. Although now on a second level of economic importance, many plantations in the surrounding areas still produce important amounts of papaya, sugar cane, tapioca and ornamental plants.

Before dinner, work-up an appetite during a tortilla making activity. Learn how to prepare tortillas and cook them on a traditional wood stove.


Dinner: Enjoy a traditional Costa Rican dinner hosted by the farm owner's family.

Dance presentation by local school children.


Evening: Return to the hotel and free time.


Lodging: Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The hotel is located in the Pacific highlands of Costa Rica (approx. 4,500 ft above sea level), just a few minutes from the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Contact info:
P.O. Box 07-5655
Monteverde, Costa Rica
phone: +(506) 26455046
web: www.monteverdemountainhotel.com

Room amenities: Each room has a private bath, telephone, and safety deposit box.

Facility amenities: Private forest reserve with trails, conference room, bar and restaurant, jacuzzi, and sauna.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Six: Monday, May 18 - Monteverde - Crossing Arenal Lake/Local Coff...
Note: Participants will transfer to Monteverde via a boat ride across Arenal Lake followed by a scenic uphill drive on back roads. The Road Scholar bus will travel separately to Monteverde with the group's luggage. Please ensure you have all you need for this day before the bus leaves.

Breakfast: At the hotel.


Morning: Transfer to Monteverde. Enjoy a boat ride across Arenal Lake (45 minutes to one hour), followed by an uphill drive on scenic back roads up to Monteverde (about one hour). Bathroom stops will be made along the way.

Arrive in Monteverde and transfer to a local coffee plantation.


Lunch: At the coffee plantation.


Afternoon: Field trip to coffee farm with site lecture.

Learn about the harvesting and processing of coffee as well as the history of this crop from its beginning in the Arabic countries and Ethiopia. Discover the importance of the golden bean ¨grano de oro¨ and its impact in the social, cultural, and economic development of Costa Rica.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Informal gathering at the hotel bar to watch the sunset.

Lecture: Conservation and Development of the Monteverde Area.


Dinner: At the hotel.


Evening: Time at leisure.

Lodging: Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The hotel is located in the Pacific highlands of Costa Rica (approx. 4,500 ft above sea level), just a few minutes from the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Contact info:
P.O. Box 07-5655
Monteverde, Costa Rica
phone: +(506) 26455046
web: www.monteverdemountainhotel.com

Room amenities: Each room has a private bath, telephone, and safety deposit box.

Facility amenities: Private forest reserve with trails, conference room, bar and restaurant, jacuzzi, and sauna.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Seven: Tuesday, May 19 - Monteverde - Cloud Forest Reserve at Monteve...
Monteverde -
Cloud Forest Reserve at Monteverde/Bat Jungle/The Quaker Story.


Breakfast: At the hotel.


Morning: Field trip to a cloud forest reserve at Monteverde with site lecture. The edges of this rich forest system, often cloaked in clouds and blowing mist, are home to more than 350 avian species and a myriad of other creatures and critters. The Monteverde area is perhaps most famous for breeding Resplendent Quetzals, Three-wattled Bellbird, and Bare-necked Umbrellabird. While these charismatic species can be elusive, a host of other cloud forest birds and amphibians are found in the area.


Lunch: At a local restaurant.


Afternoon: After lunch visit Bat Jungle.

The Bat Jungle is an educational space designed and managed by respected U.S. bat biologist Dr. Richard LaVal. Informative displays help to explain about bat biology, bat diversity, and their crucial role in nature as pollinators. The Bat Jungle also has more than 90 bats, representing 8 different species, housed in a recreated nighttime cloud forest environment. Glass windows give visitors the rare opportunity to look inside the forest enclosure and observe bats feeding, flying, and socializing. Special microphones capture the high pitched bat vocalizations and broadcast them through loudspeakers in the bat viewing area.

Return to the hotel to change and freshen-up.

Transfer to a local home in preparation for a lecture and dinner.

Lecture: The Quaker Story.

In 1951 a group of American Quakers, fearful of their nation’s growing militarism, fled the United States. The Quakers found Costa Rica, a nation without a military, to be the most inviting nation for their pacifist beliefs. This group settled Monteverde and intended to transform the area into profitable farmland. The Quakers developed a fairly successful cheese industry but they also recognized the delicate nature of the land and helped establish the area's first wildlife sanctuary.


Dinner: At a local home - Quaker style.


Evening: Free time.

Lodging: Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: The Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel and Convention Center has 229 spacious rooms with modern conveniences and a long list of amenities that are meant to accommodate business travelers as well as vacationing families. It is conveniently located a short distance from San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport. The hotel has earned a Level 3 Certification for Sustainable Tourism by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.

Contact info:
General Cañas Highway
5 km south from International Airport
San José, Costa Rica
phone: +506-22099800
web: www.wyndhamherradura.com

Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, iron/ironing board, and complimentary Internet access.

Facility amenities: Restaurants, swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, travel agency, a souvenir shop, and WiFi in public areas. Wheelchair acessible elevators and public areas. Free airport shuttle service from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Free hotel shuttle service to San José attractions. Please call the hotel or check at the front desk if you would like to use this service.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: Prices subject to availability
Rates and room types are subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.

Check out time: 11:00 AM

Day Eight: Wednesday, May 20 - Return to San José - Butterfly Garden/Excursion ...
Return to San José - Butterfly Garden/Excursion to Sarchi/Farewell to Costa Rica.

Note: The transfer from Monteverde to San José takes approximately 3.5 hours. Travel is broken up by en route stops for program activities and lunch.

Breakfast: At the hotel.


Morning: Morning visit to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden and Arthropod Education Center.

Jim Wolfe and his wife, Marta Iris, opened the Monteverde Butterfly Garden in 1989. The couple has been hand-raising butterflies for more than 15 years and knows their preferences and habits. These fragile creatures require extreme care as they develop and grow. Every species feeds on a different variety of plants. Unlike most butterfly gardens, which buy their butterflies as chrysalides, all the butterflies you will see here were bred and raised on the premises.

Begin transfer to San José.


Lunch: En route to San José.


Afternoon: Transfer to San José via the town of Sarchi.

The crafts town of Sarchi, just a few miles from Grecia, is well known for its centuries-old tradition of making oxcarts. The brightly colored and intricately decorated carts are a national symbol and can still be seen in use in rural communities. Sarchi is also known for its handcrafted furniture and wood housewares.

Arrive in San José and check-in at your hotel.

Time at leisure to start packing, enjoy hotel amenities, or just relax before meeting your group for dinner.


Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.


Evening: Free time. Spend your last evening in Costa Rica with your new Road Scholar friends, finish your packing, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for international departures tomorrow.

Lodging: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Nine: Thursday, May 21 - Depart to U.S.
Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to U.S.

Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.


Breakfast: At the hotel (depending on flight schedule).

Meals Included: Breakfast

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
8 nights of accommodations
22 meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
11 Field trips
2 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances

Ratings

4.9
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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