Road Scholar : Home
Panama and Costa Rica: Canal to Rainforest

Program Number: 20186RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/5/2012 - 11/18/2012; 10/27/2014 - 11/9/2014; 1/10/2015 - 1/23/2015; 1/16/2015 - 1/29/2015; 2/5/2015 - 2/18/2015; 2/21/2015 - 3/6/2015; 3/2/2015 - 3/15/2015; 3/9/2015 - 3/22/2015; 11/8/2015 - 11/21/2015;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Costa Rica/Panama
Price starting at: $3,313.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 37; 13 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

Engineering marvels, lush rainforests and magnificent natural reserves are just some of the jewels to be found in the heart of Panama and Costa Rica. Experience the natural and man-made beauty that can only be found in this region of Central America as you journey through the Panama Canal and search for exotic wildlife in sanctuaries throughout Costa Rica.




Highlights

• Transit through the legendary Panama Canal and search for wildlife as you pass through its many lakes and locks.
• Traverse old lava fields and possibly catch a glimpse of steam and gas emissions as you explore the natural beauty of Arenal Volcano National Park.
• Walk among the treetops during an excursion to Arenal Hanging Bridges, a nature reserve with standing and hanging bridges that crisscross the rainforest.



Activity Particulars

Walking on forest trails under varying weather conditions; getting in and out of boats. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, activities in Panama will be held in conjunction with Road Scholar program #9901 Grit and Glory: Exposing the Panama Canal. Separate group leaders and buses ensure individualized attention during the activities.




Date Specific Information

10-27-2014

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



1-10-2015, 1-16-2015, 2-5-2015, 2-21-2015, 3-2-2015, 3-9-2015

This program includes a partial transit through the Panama Canal that will begin in Panama City and end at Gamboa. During the cruise participants will experience and see the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gamboa Locks in action and will also navigate through the infamous Culebra/Gaillard Cut. Since the partial transit is not a private charter, our group will share space on the vessel with non-Road Scholar passengers.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



11-8-2015

This program includes a partial transit through the Panama Canal that will begin in Panama City and end at Gamboa. During the cruise participants will experience and see the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gamboa Locks in action and will also navigate through the infamous Culebra/Gaillard Cut. Since the partial transit is not a private charter, our group will share space on the vessel with non-Road Scholar passengers.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Panama City (Panama), 3 nights; Transiting the Panama Canal/coach to Colon, 1 night; train to Panama City, 1 night; flight to San José (Costa Rica), 1 night; coach to Sarapiqui, 2 nights; coach to Arenal, 2 nights; boat/coach to Monteverde, 2 nights; coach to San José, 1 night; departure.



Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival Panama City (Panama)
3 nights

In Casco Viejo, the historic colonial center of the city of Panama, admire the local architecture as you explore sites including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Municipal Palace and the National Theater. Learn about one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century at the Panama Canal Museum, and watch ships pass through Miraflores Locks.



Colon/Transiting the Panama Canal
1 night
Train to Panama City
1 night

Journey through the Panama Canal — from the Pacific side to the Atlantic — and watch for wildlife as you pass through Miraflores Lake, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gailard Cut, Gamboa, and Gatun Lake. At Fort San Lorenzo, learn about the reign of the Spanish and the influence of British pirates during the 16th century.



Flight to San José (Costa Rica)
1 night
Coach to Sarapiqui
2 nights

After arriving in Costa Rica, study Pre-Columbian artifacts at the Gold Museum and learn about the growing of pineapples at a local plantation. Search for wildlife and learn about the region’s 400 species of birds during expert-led rainforest walks and a boat ride along the Sarapiqui River. Local residents offer insight into daily life during an informative session at the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center.



Coach to Arenal
2 nights

Join in a river rafting adventure along the Sarapiqui River before journeying to Arenal. Explore the wonders of Arenal Volcano National Park and take a stroll through the town of La Fortuna.



Boat/coach to Monteverde
2 nights

Get a new perspective — and spectacular views — of the rainforest during an excursion to Arenal Hanging Bridges, a private nature reserve that features standing and hanging bridges and trails. Learn about the harvesting of coffee at a local farm, and search for wildlife during excursions to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Monteverde Sky Walk.



Coach to San José
1 night
Departure

Witness the fragile beauty of exotic butterfly species at the Monteverde Butterfly Garden. An excursion to the town of Sarchi offers a look into the craftsmanship of ox carts, traditional furniture, and other handmade artifacts.




Accommodations
Panama City: Hotel overlooking the canal outside town. Colon: Lakefront hotel. San Jose: Comfortable hotel, four-star resort. Sarapiqui: Nature lodge on river. Arenal: Resort facing the volcano. Monteverde: Hotel near cloud forest reserve.
Meals and Lodgings
   Amador Country Inn & Suites
  Panama City, Panama 3 nights
   Sol Melia Panama Canal
  Colon, Panama 1 night
   Crowne Plaza Hotel
  Panama City, Panama 1 night
   Hotel Balmoral
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Arenal Springs Resort
  Arenal, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Hotel Montaña Monteverde
  Monteverde, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Ramada Plaza Herradura
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Amador Country Inn & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located at Fort Amador, on the boardwalk overlooking the entrance to the Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas.
  Contact info: Amador Avenue & Pelicano Avenue
Panama City,  00000 Panama
phone: +507-2-114500
web: www.countryinns.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, balcony, cable TV, coffee maker, microwave oven, and WiFi.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, outdoor pool, jacuzzi, coin-operated laundry facilities, health club, spa services, meeting rooms, and tour desk. High-speed wireless Internet in all rooms, lobby and pool-side.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Prices subject to availability Additional nights are subject to hotel availability. Please contact the program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for current prices and assistance with reservations.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Sol Melia Panama Canal
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located on Gatun Lake, just 10 minutes from the city of Colón.
  Contact info: Espinar Colón
Former Las Americas Military School
Lago Gatun,  000000 Panama
phone: +507-4701100
web: www.meliapanamacanal.solmelia.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, hair dryer, safe, direct dial phone, and mini refrigerator.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, bar, pool, meeting rooms, spa services, laundry services, gym, and tennis courts.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Crowne Plaza Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Modern hotel located approximately 2 miles from downtown Panama City.
  Contact info: Ave Manuel Espinosa Batista
Panama City,  000000 Panama
phone: +507-2065500
web: www.crowneplaza.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable/satellite TV, coffee maker, hair dryer, mini refrigerator, iron/ironing board, and Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Pool, restaurant, tour desk, Internet cafe, business center, fitness center, laundry/dry cleaning services, and gift shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Balmoral
Type: Hotel
  Description: Comfortable hotel located on the main walking boulevard in downtown San Jose. Within walking distance of the National Theater and Gold Museum.
  Contact info: Avenida Central
San Jose,  3344-1000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22225022
web: www.balmoral.co.cr
  Room amenities: Cable TV, air conditioning, and telephone.
  Facility amenities: Conference rooms, restaurant, business center, gym, bar, and casino.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Selva Verde Lodge
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: +506-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com
  Room amenities: Safety deposit boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, bar, and private rainforest reserve with trails.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Arenal Springs Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: This attractive Costa Rican resort faces the famous Arenal Volcano, near La Fortuna town. Since the property is located 1 km (0.6 miles) inland, away from the road that circles the volcano, it is considered to be one of the safest and quietest accommodations in the area.
  Contact info: 5 km past La Fortuna
Arenal,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-2479-1212
web: http://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, garden shower, hairdryer, covered porch with rocking chairs and coffee table.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, Spa, conference facilities, vegetable garden, gardens, free Wi-Fi, pool, yoga deck, thermal hot springs, swim bar, kids pool, access ramp for handicapped guests, and changing rooms.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Hotel Montaña Monteverde
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 allowed: No

 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 Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Amador Country Inn & 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.
  Parking availability:
NA
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Panama City
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. For more information about the airport and transportation services, please consult the airport's official website: www.tocumenpanama.aero/
  From End of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest city or town:  San Jose
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santa Maria International Airport
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available for hire at the hotel. Please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
Elevation Note: Monteverde 4,662 ft

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: Arrivals in Panama City, Panama.
(Monday, November 5)
   
 Arrive To: Arrive at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama.

Participants arriving on the group flights will meet the local Road Scholar representative once they clear Customs and leave the airport's restricted arrivals area. The representative will be holding a Road Scholar sign.

Transfer to the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites

Day 2: Panama City -
Historic Casco Viejo/Introduction to the Panama Canal

(Tuesday, November 6)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Program orientation.

Field trip to the Pacific Canal Commission Compound.

Excursion to Casco Viejo, the historic colonial center of the city of Panama, with site lecture.

Panama City's old historic quarter (a.k.a. Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo) dates back to the 1670s, when the destruction of Panama Viejo made relocation a necessity. Casco Viejo’s parks and narrow streets are lined with colorful buildings representative of Spanish, French and early American architectural styles. This eclectic collection of architectural styles reflects the city's role as an international trade center and cultural melting pot that began well before the building of the Canal. Some of Casco Viejo's must-see sites include the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Municipal Palace, the National Theater, the Panama Canal Museum (originally the Grand Hotel), the French Embassy, and France Plaza.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field trip to the Panama Canal Museum, which showcases the American era of the Panama Canal.

Excursion to the French Square, a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal.

Lecture: The Panama Canal in the New Millennium.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Panama City -
Miraflores Locks and Madden Dam/Las Cruces Trail/French Cemetery

(Wednesday, November 7)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Miraflores Locks to view ships passing through the first series of locks in the canal.

Visit the interpretive museum.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field trip to the Chagres River and Las Cruces Trail.

Las Cruces Trail once served as the primary artery for sending most, if not all, of the gold brought from the Incan Empire to port for shipment back to Spain. Because so much gold traveled the same route, just about every enterprising pirate sought access to this trail. Today, Las Cruces Trail is the primary feature of a 4,000 hectare national park that provides an ecological corridor between two other national parks, the Metropolitan Nature Park and the Soberania National Park.

Visit the Lake Alajuela/Madden Dam.

Lake Alajuela was "created" in 1924 with the construction of the Madden Dam. The dam's reservoir maintains the water levels in Lake Gatun and provides primary supply of drinking water along the canal. Lake Alajuela is surrounded by a 129,000 hectare national park of primary rainforest.

Enjoy a visit to the French Cemetery that honors the many lives lost during the construction of the Panama Canal.
 Dinner: At a restaurant in Miraflores, with views of passing ships in the Canal.
   
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Colon -
Transiting the Panama Canal

(Thursday, November 8)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning transfer to the port. Board the boat that will take you on a full transit of the Panama Canal.

Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: Full day transit through the Panama Canal.

This transit leaves at 7:30 a.m. through the Pacific entrance of the Canal, just outside Flamenco Island. Here you will wait for the Panama Canal Commission Pilot who will guide you through the transit. Follow your companion vessel for the transit of the Miraflores locks (by Canal standards, we are a small vessel, so we rarely transit the locks alone).

The transit will take you through Miraflores Lake, Pedro Miguel Locks, Gailard Cut, Gamboa, and Gatun Lake. You will exit the canal on the Atlantic side and dock at Cristobal.

Throughout the transit there are numerous opportunities to see dolphins, birds, monkeys and crocodiles. The whole experience will take about 10 hours.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: Continue with the Canal transit.
Disembark in Colon.

Colon was originally an island, separated from the mainland until 1852 when the U.S. began building a railroad across the isthmus. Contemporary Colon is known for its status as a Zona Libre, a free trade zone. Next to Hong Kong, Colon is the largest free-trade zone and marks the northern terminus of the Panama Canal.

Transfer to the hotel.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Sol Melia Panama Canal
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Panama City -
Fort San Lorenzo/Gatun Locks, Dam & Power Plant/Train Ride Via the Isthmus

(Friday, November 9)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Fort San Lorenzo, constructed in the 1500s during the reign of the Spanish King, Phillip the II.

Site lecture: The Importance of Fort San Lorenzo During the Early Years of the Canal.

Located on the mouth of the Chagres River, this Spanish fort was once a primary defense against English pirates. While the fort successfully thwarted some (look for a captured British cannon on the fort’s grounds), it is perhaps best known for its failure to stop the infamous pirate, Henry Morgan. In 1672 Morgan defeated the forces at San Lorenzo, sailed up the Chagres River and led his men to Panama where they sacked, looted, and burned the city. By the time they completed their raid, Morgan safely escaped with massive quantities of gold and treasure.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy a visit to the Gatun Locks, dam, power-generating plant and spillway.

Train ride excursion to Panama City via the isthmus.

Arrive in Panama City and check-in at hotel.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner with Panamanian music.
   
Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: San José -
Fly from Panama to Costa Rica/The Gold Museum

(Saturday, November 10)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for flight to San José, Costa Rica.

Upon arrival in Costa Rica it will be necessary to proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. When exiting the restricted arrivals area, please leave through the door on the right. The local program representative will be waiting outside the exit door, holding up a Road Scholar sign.

Transfer to the hotel.

Enjoy a brief program orientation followed by a lecture. Lecture: An Overview of Costa Rica.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Excursion to the Gold Museum with a site lecture.

This interesting museum has a large collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts (approximately 1,600 pieces) dating from 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. The first section of the museum presents an introduction to the Pre-Columbian cultures of Costa Rica; their social and cultural evolution and their progress in metallurgy. The second section contains beautiful displays showcasing the museum’s collection of gold artifacts. Accompanying descriptions explain the meaning and use of each piece.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Balmoral
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Sarapiqui -
Pineapple Plantation/Introduction to the Rainforest

(Sunday, November 11)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Sarapiqui.

Situated in the Caribbean lowlands, 40 miles from San José, Sarapiquí is one of the richest sites for birds in Middle America with well over recorded 400 species. 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 in Sarapiqui and check-in at the lodge.

Orientation to the lodge.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Field trip to a local pineapple plantation.

Examine the environmental and economic impact of growing pineapples in Costa Rica, one of the top ten producers of pineapples in the world.

Return to the lodge.

Snacks and local music on the patio.

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

Day 8: Sarapiqui -
Sarapiqui River Boat Ride/Cultural Interaction

(Monday, November 12)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning bird walk around the lodge.
Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Enjoy a boat ride on the Sarapiqui River in search of local wildlife.

Return to the lodge.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Visit to Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) to meet with locals and 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 question and answer session concludes the activity, fostering international communication and understanding.

The Sarapiqui Learning Center (SCLC) is a registered non-profit organization whose mission is to help communities and local conservation efforts 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.

The remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure. Take this opportunity to cool off in the lodge's pool, go birdwatching, or indulge in the sounds of the rainforest from the comfort of your hammock.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Dance presentation by local school kids.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Arenal -
River Rafting/Introduction to Arenal

(Tuesday, November 13)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning bird walk.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: River rafting excursion on the Sarapiqui River.

Return to the lodge.

Time at leisure.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: 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.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Time at leisure.

Lecture: The Arenal Volcano.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Arenal -
Arenal Volcano National Park/La Fortuna Town

(Wednesday, November 14)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning bird walk.
Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Arenal Volcano National Park with site lecture.

The Arenal Volcano National Park, located in the central region of the country, protects a number of important life zones. The park also encompases the Arenal Volcano and the extinct Chato 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. The hilly terrain is littered with volcanic rocks. Park trails traverse old lava fields and secondary forest.

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

Excursion to the town of La Fortuna.

The small and picturesque 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. 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.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Springs Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Monteverde -
Arenal Hanging Bridges/Coffee Farm

(Thursday, November 15)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Excursion to Arenal Hanging Bridges.

Arenal Hanging Bridges is a private nature reserve in La Fortuna de San Carlos. The site 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 Arenal Hanging Bridges.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Monteverde via lake and land.

Field trip to local coffee farm with site lecture.

Learn the about 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 on the social, cultural, and economic development of Costa Rica.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Time at leisure.

Lecture: The Quaker Story.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Montaña Monteverde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Monteverde -
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve/Monteverde Sky Walk

(Friday, November 16)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with site lecture.

The edges of this rich forest, often cloaked in clouds and blowing mist, are home to more than 350 avian species and a myriad of other creatures and critters. Monteverde is perhaps most famous for its 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.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Excursion to the Monteverde Sky Walk.

A combination of natural trails and hanging bridges (suspension bridges) throughout the cloud forest and forest canopy. The Skywalk was built to protect the environment while allowing visitors to enjoy the forest from a different viewpoint. Enjoy the magnificent surroundings while listening to a site lecture.

This walk includes about 1 ½ miles of trails and 5 suspended bridges across deep canyons at the level of the treetops. The longest bridge is about 800 feet in length.

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.

Return to the hotel.

Lecture: Conservation and Development of the Monteverde Area.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Montaña Monteverde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: San José -
Butterfly Garden/Sarchi Handicrafts

(Saturday, November 17)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Morning visit to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden.

Jim Wolfe and his wife Marta Iris opened the Monteverde Butterfly Garden in 1989. The couple has been hand raising butterflies for many years and has come to learn their individual preferences and habits. These fragile creatures require extreme care as they develop and 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.

Transfer to San José.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant en route to San José.
 Afternoon: Excursion to the crafts town of Sarchi where ox carts, traditional furniture, and other handmade artifacts are created.

The 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 the hotel.

Time at leisure.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Ramada Plaza Herradura
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Depart from San José.
Arrive in the U.S.

(Sunday, November 18)
   
 Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to the 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: At the hotel (dependent on flight times).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Arenal Canopy zip line, horseback riding, hiking and spa activities
Hitch your self to a zip line for an adrenaline rush through the forest canopy. Spot animals while gliding through the forest. Horseback ride within the vicinity of the volcano. Spa options provide Swedish massage, reflexology and skin treatments. For additional information, visit www.arenal.net/lake-arenal.htm
  Explore the town of La Fortuna
Walk around the town after dinner with the opportunity to interact with the locals. For additional information, visit www.lafortunacostarica.com
  Horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, safari float, boat ride on Lake Arenal or windsurfing
Horseback ride and hike to La Fortuna Waterfalls or through pastures and hilly terrain. Kayaking on Lake Arenal not only offers the opportunity to spot a variety of birds, but also the stunning backdrop of the volcano. A boat ride on Lake Arenal provides great opportunities to photograph the volcano and to enjoy the water birds frequenting the edge of the lake. The wind on Lake Arenal usually offers a great opportunity to windsurf. For additional information, visit www.arenaltours.com
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.



Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish


Author: Joseph Keenan


Description: Idioms, common mistakes in word usage, and other helpful advice on tackling spoken Spanish. You'll need some foundation to take full advantage of this book – but even a complete novice will appreciate the author's playful sense of humor.



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.



Culture Smart! Panama


Author: Heloise Crowther


Description: This practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture is concise and well-illustrated.



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 Panama


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: Written in the tradition of Lonely Planet travel guides. This book is a good general resource and provides accounts of the Panamanian history and local culture and also detailed descriptions of sites of interest.



Panama Map


Author: ITMB


Description: A full-color, double-sided map of Panama for the traveler at the detailed scale of 1:480,000.



The Path Between the Seas, The Creation of the Panama Canal: 1870-1914


Author: David McCullough


Description: Admirably told in vivid, page-turning detail. McCullough reveals the full scope of the Panama Canal, its characters, technical difficulties and Byzantine politics.



The Penguin History of Latin America


Author: Edwin Williamson


Description: Williamson traces 500 years of history from the time of Columbus and the Spanish Conquest to the present day. An excellent and very readable history in a compact size.



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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