Road Scholar : Home
The Best of Costa Rica: Exploring Natural Wonders

Program Number: 11586RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/4/2012 - 12/16/2012; 9/16/2014 - 9/28/2014; 10/12/2014 - 10/24/2014; 11/2/2014 - 11/14/2014; 11/11/2014 - 11/23/2014; 12/2/2014 - 12/14/2014; 12/7/2014 - 12/19/2014; 1/3/2015 - 1/15/2015; 1/6/2015 - 1/18/2015; 1/10/2015 - 1/22/2015; 1/13/2015 - 1/25/2015; 1/17/2015 - 1/29/2015; 1/19/2015 - 1/31/2015; 1/24/2015 - 2/5/2015; 1/25/2015 - 2/6/2015; 1/27/2015 - 2/8/2015; 1/31/2015 - 2/12/2015; 2/1/2015 - 2/13/2015; 2/3/2015 - 2/15/2015; 2/9/2015 - 2/21/2015; 2/10/2015 - 2/22/2015; 2/14/2015 - 2/26/2015; 2/15/2015 - 2/27/2015; 2/17/2015 - 3/1/2015; 2/22/2015 - 3/6/2015; 3/1/2015 - 3/13/2015; 3/2/2015 - 3/14/2015; 3/3/2015 - 3/15/2015; 3/7/2015 - 3/19/2015; 3/9/2015 - 3/21/2015; 3/14/2015 - 3/26/2015; 3/15/2015 - 3/27/2015; 3/17/2015 - 3/29/2015; 4/11/2015 - 4/23/2015; 4/22/2015 - 5/4/2015; 5/12/2015 - 5/24/2015; 6/2/2015 - 6/14/2015; 7/14/2015 - 7/26/2015; 8/4/2015 - 8/16/2015; 9/8/2015 - 9/20/2015; 9/18/2015 - 9/30/2015; 10/12/2015 - 10/24/2015; 10/20/2015 - 11/1/2015; 11/4/2015 - 11/16/2015; 11/5/2015 - 11/17/2015; 11/9/2015 - 11/21/2015; 11/30/2015 - 12/12/2015; 12/7/2015 - 12/19/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $2,117.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History
Meals: 34; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Unhurried. Active. Environmentally aware. Lush. Protected. Biodiverse. Pura Vida -- the Pure Life. Costa Rica’s pervading cultural ideology unites with its natural delights to create a unique national character, in which 25 percent of the land is preserved by law and there is no standing military. This invigorating program explores the essential nature of this Central American nation, from its pristine beaches and verdant forests to its rural villages and historic capital.




Highlights

• On-site lectures with a local naturalist introduce the unique components of the rainforest, cloud forest and wetlands.
• Participate in cultural interaction activities in rural communities.
• Search for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal, the crown jewel of Costa Rica’s birds, and learn about the life cycle of turtles during a visit to a research station in Tortuguero.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1.5 hours a day over uneven trails in hot and humid conditions. Elevations up to 8,000 feet. This program includes a number of bus transfers. The air conditioned Road Scholar bus does not have a bathroom on board; however, program activities and pit stops are built into the schedule for every 1.5 - 2 hours of travel.



This Road Scholar program offers participants the chance to explore a number of Costa Rica’s iconic eco-systems within a relatively short period of time. Although bus travel is a necessity, it is also an opportunity to see and experience the country up close. En-route program activities help to break-up lengthier bus transfers and provide rewarding educational experiences. Local road conditions, weather, two-lane highways, winding roads, traffic, and elevation are bigger factors in determining the length of travel than actual distance.




Date Specific Information

9-16-2014

July-September is the nesting season for Green Sea Turtles in Costa Rica's Tortuguero National Park. During this special time of year, the program will include an expert-led nighttime walk along Tortuguero Beach for an opportunity to observe sea turtles as they come ashore to lay eggs
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



10-12-2014, 11-2-2014, 11-11-2014, 12-2-2014, 12-7-2014, 1-3-2015, 1-10-2015, 1-13-2015, 1-17-2015, 1-19-2015, 1-25-2015, 1-31-2015, 2-10-2015, 2-14-2015, 2-15-2015, 3-1-2015, 3-2-2015, 3-3-2015, 3-7-2015, 3-9-2015, 3-14-2015, 3-15-2015, 3-17-2015, 4-11-2015, 4-22-2015, 5-12-2015, 6-2-2015, 10-12-2015, 10-20-2015, 11-4-2015, 11-5-2015, 11-9-2015, 11-30-2015, 12-7-2015

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



1-6-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #20774-01/18/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



1-24-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #18125-01/18/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



1-27-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #20774-02/08/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



2-1-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #18125-02/13/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



2-9-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #20774-02/21/2015



2-17-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #20774-03/01/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



2-22-2015

Can be taken in conjunction with #18125-03/06/2015
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



7-14-2015, 8-4-2015, 9-8-2015, 9-18-2015

July-September is the nesting season for Green Sea Turtles in Costa Rica`s Tortuguero National Park. During this special time of year, the program will include an expert-led nighttime walk along Tortuguero Beach for an opportunity to observe sea turtles as they come ashore to lay eggs



Itinerary Summary

Arrival San Jose, 2 nights; coach and boat to Tortuguero, 2 nights; boat and coach to Sarapiqui, 2 nights; coach to Arenal, 2 nights; coach to Punta Leona, 2 nights; coach to San Gerardo de Dota, 1 night; coach to San Jose, 1 night; departure



Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival San Jose
2 nights
Coach and motorized boat to Tortuguero
2 nights

Begin with a lecture on the biodiversity of Costa Rica, then enjoy a sensory experience combining nature trails with multimedia technology in InBio Park. Visit a working coffee plantation to discover what makes some of the best coffee in the world. Learn why the beaches of Tortuguero are favored nesting sites for the Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtle. Visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s research station for a presentation on the life cycle of turtles and conservation efforts. Excursions to inland wetlands and canals provide outstanding wildlife viewing and birding opportunities during motorized canoe rides with a naturalist.



Boat / coach to Sarapiqui
2 nights
Coach to Arenal
2 nights

After an early morning birding walk searching for Toucans and Great Green Macaws in a 500-acre rainforest preserve, join a river-rafting excursion on the Sarapiqui River and scan the shores for wildlife. An on-site lecture introduces the rainforest and its many intriguing creatures, including the vibrantly colored poison arrow frogs. Hike the lava-encrusted trails in Arenal Volcano National Park and learn about the volcano’s impact on the land and the people of this region. A combination of nature trails and hanging bridges brings you close to one of the least-explored parts of the tropical forest, its canopy.



Coach to Punta Leona
2 nights
Coach to San Gerardo de Dota
1 night
Coach to San Jose
1 night

Learn about ecosystems along the Carara Biological Reserve during a boating expedition with a naturalist on the Tarcoles River. In the Savegre Valley, longtime residents discuss their commitment to the preservation of the Resplendent Quetzal, one of Costa Rica’s most elusive bird species.




Costa Rica

Hugged by two bodies of water and sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica’s topography, climate and geographical position are more than mere facts: they define this tiny country. Cloud rainforests, valleys of coffee and volcanic mountain peaks fill the land between Caribbean and Pacific beaches. This ecological Eden protects its natural treasures in acres of preserved land, and is the only country in the world without a standing army.



Accommodations
San Jose: Comfortable hotel. Tortuguero: Nature lodge. Sarapiqui: Rainforest eco-lodge. Arenal: Hotel with volcano views. Punta Leona: Cloud forest lodge. San Gerardo de Dota: Comfortable hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Paulo Valerio

Paulo Valerio is a tropical biologist and an expert naturalist field instructor from Costa Rica. Paulo is fluent in English and holds a B.S.C. in tropical biology and a M.S.C. in natural resources management and ecotourism from Universidad Nacional. After years of experience working as a field instructor, he is now based in San José, Costa Rica, where he is the director of Best Adventure Travel. Paulo is also an adjunct professor of tropical biology at Pepperdine University and has been a distinguished lecturer at events for organizations including Road Scholar, One Earth One People, and the National Science Teachers Association.
 
Marino Chacón

Marino Chacón’s family were the first settlers in the San Gerardo de Dota Valley, located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. They established a dairy farm and orchard, and later transformed the farm into a mountain lodge and nature reserve. With the family's focus turning to environmental travel, Marino decided to study English and enrolled in courses with the National Learning Institute (INA). An avid nature lover since he was a kid, Marino went on to earn his naturalist certification from Las Quebradas Biological Center Foundation and worked as a resident naturalist and birding guide at his family lodge. His involvement in the development of Los Quetzales National Park initiative and the conservation of the local highland oak forests have earned him a position of respect within the community. Marino has participated in forums sponsored by the University for International Cooperation and UNESCO, and courses led by the Tropical Agronomical Center for Education and Research.
 
Sherman Thomas

A Rockefeller Foundation scholarship recipient, Dr. Sherman Thomas has degrees from the Universities of Costa Rica and University of Minnesota. In addition to teaching at the Universidad de Costa Rica for 30 years, he is one of the founders of the Renovación Costarricense political party and was selected to run for President of Costa Rica in 1998. Sherman has also been on the staff of Universidad Latina, Universidad Autonoma de Centro America, and Universidad del Turismo, and his publications can be found in chemistry journals and chemistry textbooks. He is highly regarded for his professional achievements in chemistry, as well as his social and political commitment to improve the quality of life for all citizens of his country.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Casa Conde Apartotel & Suites
  San José, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Pachira Lodge
  Tortuguero, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Arenal Springs Resort
  Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Hotel Punta Leona
  Punta Leona, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Savegre Mountain Lodge
  San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica 1 night
   Ramada Plaza Herradura
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Casa Conde Apartotel & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: This apartment-style hotel is built around the concept of convenience and comfort. It is conveniently located near San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport and a short drive from downtown area. The Casa Conde provides visitors with a great location and a special town-like atmosphere.
  Contact info: South of Parque de La Paz
San Jose,  3344-1000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22260808
web: www.grupocasaconde.com/indexen.aspx
  Room amenities: Two Individual Private Bedrooms: A/C, fully equipped kitchen, W/D, iron, entertainment center with TV, DVD, stereo, Karaoke, internet, closets, hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap dispenser, phone, Internet, and 4-seat table.
  Facility amenities: Pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, gym, souvenir shop, restaurant, cosmetology and massage services, and yoga and martial arts classes.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider, Holbrook Travel, for additional information. Tel: 1-800-866-7111/Email: roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Pachira Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The rainforest is an unforgettable experience at this riverfront lodge located five minutes by boat from Tortuguero National Park. Rooms have high ceilings, large windows and are decorated with exotic bamboo furniture and local artwork.
  Contact info: On main canal, across from Tortuguero Village
Tortuguero, Limon,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-22567080
web: www.pachiralodge.com
  Room amenities: Ceiling fans and private baths.
  Facility amenities: Pool, restaurant and bar. No laundry services are available at this lodge.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Selva Verde Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Rainforest lodge buil 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: +506-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com
  Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, pool, bar, and a rainforest reserve with hiking trails.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Arenal Springs Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: Resort facing the Arenal Volcano, located 1 km (0.6 miles) from the road that circles the volcano. The property offers comfortable and relaxing accommodations and beautiful views of the volcano.
  Contact info: 5 km past La Fortuna
Arenal,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22900798
web: www.arenalspringshotel.com
  Room amenities: Vaulted ceilings, large sliding bay windows, air-conditioning and a ceiling fan, TV, telephone, safety box, mini-fridge, night tables with reading lamps, wardrobe, garden shower, hairdryer, covered porch with rocking chairs and coffee table.
  Facility amenities: Pool with great views, swim bar, Jacuzzi, kids pool, access ramp for the handicapped and changing rooms.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Hotel Punta Leona
Type: Resort
  Description: Tropical rainforest and beach resort located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Part of the 750 acres is a nature reserve boasting 250 species of birds, a variety of monkeys, sloths, armadillos and a macaw breeding project.
  Contact info: Road to Tarcoles
Punta Leona,  000000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22313131
web: www.hotelpuntaleona.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, mini refrigerator, safety box, telephone, and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Pools, restaurants, bar, tennis court, disco, mini golf, and beach access.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Savegre Mountain Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Contact info: San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
web: www.savegre.co.cr
  Room amenities: Heating system or fireplace.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, meeting rooms, private nature reserve, and bar.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Ramada Plaza Herradura
Type: Resort
  Description: The Ramada Plaza Herradura is 4-star resort nestled in the heart of Costa Rica's Central Valley, only 5 miles from the Juan Santamaria International Airport and a short drive from downtown San José. Beautiful mountain views, lush tropical gardens, and modern amenities provide an atmosphere of tranquility and comfort.
  Contact info: General Cañas Highway
5 km. South from International Airport
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-22099800
web: www.ramadaherradura.com/
  Room amenities: Private bath, air conditioning, satellite TV, direct-dial telephone, room service, and high speed Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Outdoor pools, jacuzzis, restaurants, bar & lounge, casino, fitness center, gift shop, convention center, business center, meeting rooms, spa services, laundry services, money exchange, and beauty salon.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Prices subject to availability Additional nights are subject to hotel availability.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Casa Conde Apartotel & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Ramada Plaza Herradura the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Proof of vaccination is required from travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic. It is always best to renew your passport before it reaches the six month validity date—especially if you plan on doing future travel. For more information about entry requirements please contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC at tel: (202) 234-2945/46 or visit www.costarica-embassy.org.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest city or town:  San José
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santamaria International Airport
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto is the official airport taxi company and their booth can be found outside of the Baggage Claim area. They provide safe and reliable service and their fares can be prepaid in dollars. The Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto vehicles are orange in color and have their logo enblazoned on the side. Tel: (506) 2222-6865/www.taxisunidosaeropuerto.com.
  From End of Program
  Location: San José
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, please ask for assistance at the hotel’s front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: Elevations of up to 7,220 feet (San Gerardo de Dota/Savegre).

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive to San José
(Tuesday, December 4)
   
 Evening: Arrive in San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. 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 3PM.
   
Accommodations: Casa Conde Apartotel & Suites

Day 2: San José -
INBio Parque & Doka Coffee Estate.

(Wednesday, December 5)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Program Orientation.

Lecture: The Biodiversity of Costa Rica.

Field trip to INBio Parque. Guided walk through INBio's outdoor habitat model exhibits and collections. Site lecture: An Overview of the Ecosystems of Costa Rica and its Protected Areas.

The National Institute for Biodiversity (INBio Parque) provides a sensory experience combining interpretive nature trails with multimedia technology in its bio-exhibits. Visitors learn about Costa Rica's biodiversity and the efforts in conservation through establishment of protected areas. As example of sustainable use of biodiversity, visitors will learn about medicinal, aromatic and ornamental plants, fruit trees and agricultural products.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Excursion to Doka Coffee Estate for a look at coffee production in Costa Rica.

The Doka Coffee Estate is owned by the Vargas Ruiz family and is located in Sabanilla, Alajuela near the Poás Volcano. The estate welcomes visitors to learn more about the rich dark brew that is loved by millions of people around the world. Here, visitors experience the subject of coffee from seedling to the cup through a hands-on walk through the plantation, processing plant, and roasting plant. If you are a coffee lover, you will enjoy plenty of opportunities to sample the finished product.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
 Evening: Lecture: An Introduction to Costa Rica.
   
Accommodations: Casa Conde Apartotel & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Tortuguero –
Village Excursion/Sea Turtle Conservancy.

(Thursday, December 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to dock and board river boat to Tortuguero.

Tortuguero is located on the Caribbean coast, south of Nicaragua, and fifty miles north of Limon. The Tortuguero National Park embodies Caribbean beaches, with a surprising array of plant associations, including swamp forest, lowland rainforest and a picturesque network of natural waterways. Tortuguero gets its name from the large sea turtles that come ashore yearly to nest on the beach. From June through October, the 27 mile-long black sand beach welcomes thousands of Green Sea Turtles who come onto land to lay eggs. Every year, under the watchful eyes of park guides, visitors enjoy nighttime walks on Tortuguero’s beach in the hopes of seeing turtles (seasonal). Although these gentle giants are a big tourist draw to the area, the national park has much more to offer than just sea turtles. Navigating through the river and canals of Tortuguero reveals an incredible diversity of plant and animal life including more than 100 reptiles, 60 mammal species, and hundreds of bird species.
 Lunch: Lunch at lodge.
 Afternoon: Excursion to local village.

Visit to Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) field station for video/slide show presentation.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
 Evening: Lecture: History and Overview of Tortuguero.
   
Accommodations: Pachira Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Tortuguero –
Boating and Hiking Excursions.

(Friday, December 7)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: Early morning canal safari in Tortuguero National Park.

Tortuguero National Park is located in one of the rainiest regions of Costa Rica. It is also an area of incredible biological diversity, with at least eleven identified habitats. A scenic natural channel and navigable river mouths form the park from the southwest to the northeast. These river ways and swamps are the habitat of species of land tortoises, which can be seen sunning themselves on drifting logs or in the floating islands formed by vegetation. The canals also provide shelter to a variety of species in danger of extinction and are excellent locations to observe the different species of aquatic birds.

Hike along secondary forest trails.
Site lecture: The Migratory Birds of Tortuguero.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.

Late afternoon boat safari.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
 Evening: Short guided walk around the lodge grounds.
   
Accommodations: Pachira Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sarapiqui -
Rainforest Hike.

(Saturday, December 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: Boat and land transfer to Sarapiqui, in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.

Sarapiquí 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.

Arrive at the lodge.
 Lunch: Lunch at lodge.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, enjoy a guided rainforest hike in the lodge's private reserve.

Lecture: Introduction to the Rainforest.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Sarapiqui -
River Rafting/Rainforest Hike.

(Sunday, December 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: This morning, enjoy an exhilarating river rafting excursion.

Return to the lodge.
 Lunch: Lunch at lodge.
 Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to a local plantation to learn about agricultural practices in the region.

Snacks and music on the patio.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Arenal -
Arenal Volcano National Park.

(Monday, December 10)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: Transfer 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.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant en route.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Arenal and check-in at the hotel.

Field trip to the Arenal National Park. Walk along park trails to observe up-close views of the volcano and also witness the regeneration process of the vegetation that was once affected by past volcanic activity.

The National Park is situated right in the vicinity of Arenal Volcano. Although clouds often obscure the peak of the volcano, during clear days it is possible to see gases and steam rising from the cone. It is interesting to see how the periodic lava flows have contributed to the erratic growth of vegetation in the areas around the volcano.

Return to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
 Evening: Lecture: Volcanology
   
Accommodations: Arenal Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Arenal -
Arenal Hanging Bridges.

(Tuesday, December 11)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Arenal Hanging 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: Lunch at Arenal Hanging Bridges.
 Afternoon: Return to the hotel.

Afternoon at leisure to explore La Fortuna town, sample local hot springs or simply enjoy your hotel's amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Punta Leona/Pacific Coast –
Crocodile Safari on Tárcoles River.

(Wednesday, December 12)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Begin transfer to Punta Leona, on the Pacific Coast.

Crocodile Safari boat ride on the Tarcoles River.

The Tárcoles River Basin is one of the most important in the Pacific coastal region, virtually draining the entire western side of the Central Valley. Tárcoles hosts an amazing diversity of wildlife along its banks and in the extensive mangrove ecosystem. Perhaps the most famous of all the river's inhabitants are its enormous crocodiles. These crocodiles have been studied by numerous local and foreign specialists and featured in TV specials, including several of National Geographic Bray Barr's Wild Reptiles.
 Lunch: Lunch en-route.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Punta Leona and check-in at the hotel.

Punta Leona is located on the Central Pacific Coast; less than 2 hours by car from San José. The area has become a popular vacation spot with Costa Rican families. With white sand beaches on one side and tropical rainforest on the other, there are many options for both the adventure lover and those looking for a little rest and relaxation. Punta Leona is just a short distance from the important Carara National Park and approximately forty miles south of Manuel Antonio National Park.

Enjoy a guided orientation to Punta Leona, followed by a lecture.
Lecture: Saving the Scarlet Macaw.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Punta Leona/Pacific Coast -
Carara National Park/Afternoon at the Beach.

(Thursday, December 13)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Carara National Park.

Carara, 60 miles southwest of San José, lies at the northern limit of the Pacific lowland rainforest and the southern limit of the dry, deciduous forest. Its unique location within a transition zone means that plant and animal species from both habitats coexist in the reserve. In addition to conserving primary and secondary growth forests, Carara National Park also protects the Rio Grande de Tarcoles river basin and its rich wildlife. The park is a favored birding destination, with more than 350 recorded bird species including a sizeable population of endangered Scarlet Macaws.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at hotel.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy the beaches, pools and other amenities at your hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: San Gerardo de Dota -
Hacienda Baru/The Cloud Forest.

(Friday, December 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Hacienda Baru. Guided walk on small loop trail and lecture. Lecture: An Overview of Baru's Reforestation Project.

Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Refuge is situated on Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific Coast. This is a region of distinct natural beauty, where forest covered mountains rise up from the dramatic Pacific coastline. Hacienda Baru’s 815 acres have a fantastic variety of habitats, from wetland and secondary forest in the lowlands to primary forest on the highland costal ridge.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Transfer to San Gerardo de Dota.

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.

Time at leisure.

Walk around the cloud forest grounds of the hotel.

Lecture: The History of the San Gerardo Valley.

The few families that inhabit the valley are mostly dedicated to the production of trout, apples and peaches, which grow well in the cool, moist elevations of the Talamanca Range. Pioneers in many aspects, the Chacon family was the first to settle in this area. They built the first hotel (Cabinas Chacon, now named Savegre Lodge) and the first to set out to conserve the magnificent high elevation and oak forests that covered the entire valley. The patriarch of the family don Efrain Chacon, has transmitted his love for this land to his children and grandchildren. They now share his passion and devotion for the preservation of the pristine forests.
 Dinner: Dinner at lodge.
   
Accommodations: Savegre Mountain Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: San José -
Savegre Forest & Cartago.

(Saturday, December 15)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: Nature walk in the Savegre Forest, adjacent to Los Quetzales National Park.
Site lecture: The Life History of the Resplendent Quetzal.

Los Quetzales National Park, situated in the Talamanca Mountans of Costa Rica, was created in July of 2005 and protects an area of approximately 12,000 acres. The scenic park encompasses rugged mountains, mist-covered forests, rivers, glacial lakes and a variety of ecosystems. The Resplendent Quetzal, a colorful bird much revered by the Maya and Aztec, can be seen all year feeding on the many aguacatillo trees growing throughout the park.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Transfer to San José via Cartago.

Cartago, Costa Rica’s former capital, is located approximately 15 miles east of San José in the shadows of the majestic Irazú Volcano. The city was originally founded in the mid 1500’s and is one of the country’s oldest settlements. The city’s Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles is famous for its Black Madonna (La Negrita) who is credited for having miraculous healing powers. Every year pilgrims flock to the church for the feast day of the Virgin of the Angels in order to pray for their health or to offer thanks for past miracles.

Arrive in San José and check-in at the hotel.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Ramada Plaza Herradura
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Depart to the U.S.

(Sunday, December 16)
   
 Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to U.S.

Note: 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.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel (depending on flight departure time).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Tortuguero Beach walk, kayak canals, boat ride, fish, hike to Tortuguero Hill, or take a canopy tour.
During the turtle nesting season (June - Sept) visitors can take part in a nighttime beach walk. Tortuguero's beach is notorious for being the nesting site of the largest population of sea turtles in the Caribbean. Kayaking the canals provides the best opportunity to get close to the wildlife and is also good exercise. Boat rides are available to explore the rivers and canals. Fishing can be organized by contacting the local fishing guides. Hiking to the top of Tortuguero Hill has become a popular activity for those looking for exercise and the opportunity to get a bird's-eye view of the national park. For additional information, visit www.tortuguero-info.com
  Socialize with the locals
Tortuguero is a small coastal fishing village. Visitors to the village at night are the exception rather than the rule. Participants will have the opportunity to meet some of the local people during their stay at this site.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide


Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer


Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.



A Brief History of Central America


Author: Hector Perez-Brignoll


Description: A good overview of the region’s economic, political and social history through the 1980s by a professor at the University of Costa Rica. Well-written, informative and concise.



Costa Rica's National Parks and Preserves: A Visitor's Guide


Author: Joseph Franke and Joseph Dimijian


Description: A first-rate source for the Costa Rican park system. Profiles 40 parks and preserves and their distinct tropical habitats. Franke provides regional history as well as tips on what to pack.



Culture Smart! Costa Rica


Author: Jane Koutnik


Description: A guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.



Lonely Planet Costa Rica Country Guide


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: Regional maps, detailed site information and general tips will be useful to travelers of all budgets and interests.



Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.



National Geographic Costa Rica


Author: Christopher P. Baker


Description: This stylish, informative and up-to-date travel resource features 200 photographs, many maps and good information on the country's history, nature and culture.



The New Key to Costa Rica


Author: Beatrice Blake


Description: The original guide to Costa Rica, featuring up-to-date suggestions of hotels and lodges, outdoor adventures and excursions – and with a serious focus on sustainable travel.



The Ticos


Author: Richard Biesanz


Description: This insightful, fact-filled portrait of the Costa Rican people accessibly explores their culture, history and society.



The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide


Author: Fiona Reid, Twan Leenders, Jim Zook, Robert Dean


Description: Designed to take along on a walk in the forest, this latest compact Zona Tropical guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter in the field. Each gets an exquisite full color illustration.



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest



Tropical Plants of Costa Rica


Author: Willow Zuchowski


Description: Organized by habitat, this photo guide to 400 species has chapters on popular destinations, including Monteverde and Tortuguero.





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