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

Program Number: 20186RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/25/2013 - 3/10/2013; 11/3/2016 - 11/15/2016; 12/1/2016 - 12/13/2016; 1/19/2017 - 1/31/2017; 1/26/2017 - 2/7/2017; 2/2/2017 - 2/14/2017; 2/9/2017 - 2/21/2017; 2/23/2017 - 3/7/2017; 3/9/2017 - 3/21/2017; 3/16/2017 - 3/28/2017;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Costa Rica/Panama
Price starting at: $3,464.00 - 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.


• Walk among the treetops during an excursion to Arenal Hanging Bridges, a nature reserve with standing and hanging bridges that crisscross the rainforest.
• Soak up the beauty of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and enjoy the thrill and adventure of sea kayaking & snorkeling.
• Enjoy a partial transit through the legendary Panama Canal and search for wildlife as you pass through its many lakes and locks.

Activity Particulars

Walking on forest trails under varying weather conditions; getting in and out of boats.

Date Specific Information

11-3-2016, 12-1-2016, 1-19-2017, 1-26-2017, 2-2-2017, 2-9-2017, 2-23-2017, 3-9-2017, 3-16-2017

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

Itinerary Summary

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

Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival San José (Costa Rica)
1 night
Coach to Arenal
2 nights

Walk among lush tropical vegetation and marvel at the vibrantly hued hummingbirds at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. 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. Learn about everyday life in rural Costa Rica during a visit to a local farm.

Boat/coach to Monteverde
2 nights

Learn about the harvesting of coffee at a local farm, and search for wildlife during excursions into a cloudforest reserve at Monteverde. Learn the community’s unique history and address current conservation and development initiatives.

Coach to Punta Leona 2 nights

Navigate the mangroves and sandy banks of the Tarcoles River in search of its giant crocodiles. Enjoy the refreshing saltwater spray and ocean breezes during a kayaking adventure along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

Coach to San José
Flight to Panama City (Panama) 2 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
2 nights

Journey through the Panama Canal — from Panama City to Gamboa — and watch for ships and wildlife as you pass through the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel, and Gamboa Locks and the Gaillard Cut. At the New Locks Visitor Center, learn about the ongoing expansion project. At an Embera village, gain insight into their people’s history, culture, and traditions while sharing in a traditional meal.

Train to Panama City
1 night

Return to Panama City on a scenic train ride along tracks that were built to aid the building of the canal.

San Jose: Comfortable downtown hotel. Arenal: Resort facing the volcano. Monteverde: Hotel near cloud forest reserve. Punta Leona: Beachfront resort. Panama City: Hotel overlooking the canal outside town. Colon: Lakefront hotel.
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
   Hotel Arenal Paraiso
  Arenal, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Hotel Montaña Monteverde
  Monteverde, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
  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
  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 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
  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
  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) 2222-5022
  Room amenities: Cable TV, air conditioning, minibar, alarm clock, flat screen TV, safety deposit box, internet, air conditioning, hairdryer, 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) 227611800
  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 allowed: No

 Hotel Arenal Paraiso
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hotel Arenal Paraiso is located just a short drive from the picturesque town of La Fortuna. Accommodations are provided in individual casitas surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, with views of the Arenal Volcano. All rooms have views of the volcano.
  Contact info: No info.
Arenal,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-2460-5333
  Room amenities: Hair dryer, mini refrigerator, safety deposit box, cable TV, air conditioning, and front porch with sitting area.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, 3 pools, bar, zip line, and spa.
  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
  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

 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
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
  Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, and internet access.
  Facility amenities: Complimentary Wi-Fi, three restaurants, three swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, Internet access, travel agency, and a souvenir shop. 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.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: 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 if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

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 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property) the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
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:
  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 at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, 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, February 25)
 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.

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.
Accommodations: Amador Country Inn & Suites

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

(Tuesday, February 26)
 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, February 27)
 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, February 28)
 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 -
New Locks Visitor Center/Train Ride Via the Isthmus

(Friday, March 1)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast depart to New Locks Visitor Center to learn about the new canal expansion, including a video on the expansion program and new locks construction in addition to pictures of development at various stages. After a nature hike, the visit will end at the view point to observe the work being done at the new lock from afar.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Free time at the hotel to enjoy the amenities. The rooms will be available until the transfer time to the train station.

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, March 2)
 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, March 3)
 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, March 4)
 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, March 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: River rafting excursion on the Sarapiqui River.

Return to the lodge.
 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: Hotel Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Wednesday, March 6)
 Breakfast: 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.

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

Early evening excursion to the town of La Fortuna.

The small and painteresque town of Fortuna has changed quite a bit from the village that witnessed the eruptions of Arenal Volcano in 1968.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Monteverde -
Crossing the Arenal Lake/Coffee Farm

(Thursday, March 7)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Monteverde.

Enjoy a scenic boat ride across Arenal Lake (45 min - 1 hour) before boarding vans to complete the final stage of your transfer, driving uphill to Monteverde (1 hour).
 Lunch: At a local coffee plantation.
 Afternoon: 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 a local home - Quaker style.
Accommodations: Hotel Montaña Monteverde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Monteverde -
Cloud Forest Reserve at Monteverde/Local Cheese Factory & Bakery/The Quakers of Monteverde

(Friday, March 8)
 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.

Return to the hotel to change and freshen-up.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, visit a local cheese factory, bakery and the cooperative of artisan women's shop.

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, March 9)
 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 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: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Sunday, March 10)
 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
  Explore the town of La Fortuna
Walk around the town after dinner with the opportunity to interact with the locals. For additional information, visit
  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
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.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768