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Costa Rica: Spanish Language in Nature's Playground

Program Number: 16394RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/9/2013 - 1/20/2013; 10/7/2014 - 10/18/2014; 1/21/2015 - 1/30/2015; 2/11/2015 - 2/20/2015; 3/4/2015 - 3/13/2015; 4/22/2015 - 5/1/2015; 5/13/2015 - 5/22/2015; 10/7/2015 - 10/16/2015; 11/4/2015 - 11/13/2015;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $2,530.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Language Study
Meals: 30; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

Fully immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s language and culture and learn what the Ticos mean when they say, "Pura Vida." Engage in sessions at the certified Costa Rica Learning Academy in San José, structured to incorporate all language levels. In Arenal, learn about the region's famous volcano and meet residents in local communities for an intimate experience of this peaceful nation. Continue to Sarapiqui in the northeastern lowlands, where interactive excursions enhance your vocabulary on the natural history of Costa Rica.


• Join the alumni ranks at one of the top Spanish language schools in Costa Rica.
• Combine language lessons with natural history at a private cloud forest reserve.
• Practice what you learn with local residents in San Jose and rural Costa Rica.

Activity Particulars

Minimal walking over mostly flat terrain in city environments and on well-maintained paths and forest trails.

Program is open to all language levels.

Date Specific Information

10-7-2014, 4-22-2015, 5-13-2015, 10-7-2015, 11-4-2015

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

1-21-2015, 2-11-2015, 3-4-2015

Participants will depart at 6:00am from Selva Verde Lodge on Day 10. Please do not book flights earlier than noon for departure day. There will also be another transfer at 9:00am for those with later flights.For participants who need or have departure flights earlier than noon, please contact your provider, Holbrook Travel 800-866-7111, for assistance.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival San José, 4 nights; coach to Arenal, 3 nights; coach to Sarapiqui, 3 nights; coach to San José, 1 night; departure.

Flight from the U.S.A.
Arrival San Jose
4 nights

Situated in the quiet neighborhood of Barrio Dent, the Costa Rica Learning Academy has an international reputation and caters to all language levels. Cultural activities, such as cooking classes, Latin dance and song, and a visit to the Gold Museum enhance daily lessons with the academy’s certified instructors. Excursions in the community provide opportunities to practice your speaking skills.

Coach to Arenal Volcano
3 nights

Lectures and activities reveal the powerful geothermal forces at work at Arenal Volcano and their impact on local communities. Dine with local families in the town of La Fortuna for a chance to experience the infamous Tico hospitality and some regional cuisine.

Coach to Sarapiqui
3 nights
Coach to San Jose
1 night

Travel to Sarapiqui, in the verdant Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica. Learn about daily life in Puerto Viejo and practice conversational Spanish during interactions with members of the community. Lessons incorporate the natural history of the area through a visit to a rainforest center and a boat ride on the Sarapiqui River. An evening of Spanish music and song complements the learning experience. In San José, explore the downtown shops and visit a Costa Rican supermarket.

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.

San Jose: Comfortable hotel with pool. Arenal Volcano: Comfortable hotel with volcano views. Sarapiqui: Eco-lodge located in the rainforest.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Boutique Jade
  San José, Costa Rica 4 nights
   Arenal Paraiso
  Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Hotel Boutique Jade
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Boutique Jade offers a relaxing and homey environment. It's 30 comfortable rooms are built around a tropical courtyard.
  Contact info: 250 mts. North of Autos Subarú, Barrio Dent Los Yoses, San Pedro,
San Jose,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-22242455
  Room amenities: Air-conditioning, WiFi, mini-bar, safety deposit box, hair dryer, cable TV, handicapped rooms, desk, and telephone
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, currency exchange, WiFi, meeting rooms, laundry service, coffee station, room service, swimming pool, and private transportation services.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Additional nights are subject to availability.

 Arenal Paraiso
Type: Hotel
  Description: All rooms have views of the Arenal Volcano.
  Contact info: No info.
Arenal,  000000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-24605333
  Room amenities: Hair dryer, mini refrigerator, cable TV, and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, 3 pools, bar, zip line, and spa.
  Smoking allowed: 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
  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

 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
Type: Hotel
  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: Across from General Cańas Highway, 5km south of the Juan Santamaria 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: Hotel amenities include: 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: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: 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.

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 Hotel Boutique Jade 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 (formerly a Ramada property) 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
  Parking availability:
Parking is not available for this international program.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest airport:  San José International Airport (Juan Santamaria)
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José. Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto is the official airport taxi company in San José. Their taxis are orange in color and have their company logo emblazoned on the driver and front passenger doors. Tel: (506) 2222-6865/
  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: San José 3,021 ft. Arenal 3,281ft - 5,435 ft.

Equipment Requirements: Although not required, previous participants have found it useful to bring a small notebook and pen/pencil to use for notetaking during Spanish classes.
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.
(Wednesday, January 9)
 Arrive To: Arrive in San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport.

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

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

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3PM.
Accommodations: Hotel Boutique Jade

Day 2: San José -
Introduction to the Costa Rican Language Academy.

(Thursday, January 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Overview and orientation to the program.
Walk to the Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA).

The CRLA is a privately owned language school with over 19 years of experience teaching Spanish to students from around the globe. The language academy has 35 classrooms, 2 computer rooms with internet access, 2 classrooms for Latin dance classes, a kitchen for cooking classes, a cafeteria, terraces, and gardens with sitting areas. The teaching staff at CRLA is accredited with the Costa Rican Department of Education and all hold degrees either from the University of Costa Rica or the Universidad Nacional.

Begin your first language sessions.
 Lunch: Lunch at the CRLA.
 Afternoon: Continue with Spanish classes.

Costa Rican cooking class.

Walk back to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Boutique Jade
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: San José -
Spanish Language Instruction.

(Friday, January 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Walk to the CRLA for morning language classes.
 Lunch: Lunch at the CRLA.
 Afternoon: Continue with Spanish language lessons.
Session discussing conservation in Costa Rica.
Latin dance lessons.
Walk back to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Boutique Jade
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: San José -
Spanish Language Instruction/Gold Museum.

(Saturday, January 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Walk to the CRLA for morning language classes.
 Lunch: Lunch at the CRLA.
 Afternoon: Continue with the language sessions.
Field trip to the Gold Museum.

This unique underground museum showcases a collection of Pre-Colombian gold. The 2,000-piece collection weighs over 20,000 troy ounces, making this one of the wealthiest spots in the nation! Stamp collectors should consider the on-site philatelic museum, while those with an interest in ancient coins should venture into the adjoining numismatic museum.

 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Boutique Jade
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Arenal -
Spanish Lessons/Introduction to the Arenal Volcano.

(Sunday, January 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Walk to CRLA for morning language classes.
 Lunch: Lunch at the CRLA.
 Afternoon: Depart for La Fortuna/Arenal.

The community of La Fortuna, in the province of Alajuela, is nearest to the Arenal Volcano. La Fortuna offers the perfect vantage point from which to admire Arenal's perfect cone. The fertile soil in this area produces a variety of crops for local consumption and for export, which are an important source of income for the community. Although increased revenue from tourism has led to improvements in la Fortuna's infrastructure and the emergence of hotels, it has managed to retain its local flavor and overall small town feel.

Late afternoon arrival at the hotel and check-in.
Lecture: The Many Moods of the Arenal Volcano.

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.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Arenal -
Spanish Lessons/Independent Exploration of La Fortuna/Dining with Locals.

(Monday, January 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning Spanish classes at the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time to rest before your afternoon activities or explore local sites on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner at the homes of local families in La Fortuna.
Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Arenal -
Spanish Classes/Views of Arenal Volcano/Optional Dining in La Fortuna.

(Tuesday, January 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Full morning of Spanish classes at the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: This afternoon visit Arenal Observatory Lodge for a close-up view of the volcano. The lodge has facilitated a small research center that plays an important role in obtaining data about the volcano in an effort to predict its potential for activity. The gardens of the lodge are alive with butterflies and hummingbirds .

Return to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.

Transport will be provided for those who wish to select a restaurant in the town of La Fortuna to satisfy a more adventurous palate. Teachers will be available to accompany participants. Tranport will be available to return participants to the hotel.
Accommodations: Arenal Paraiso
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Sarapiqui -
Spanish Classes/Transfer to Sarapiqui.

(Wednesday, January 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning Spanish lessons at the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: After lunch, drive to Sarapiqui (approx. 2.5 hours), in the country's Caribbean lowlands.

Sarapiqui is an area known for its natural beauty and biological diversity, nestled in the lush Caribbean lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica. Nature reserves such as those at La Selva Biological Station, Braulio Carrillo, Tirimbina, and Selva Verde have greatly contributed to the preservation of the region's rich plant and animal life by safeguarding large tracts of primary forest.

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.

Orientation to Selva Verde with a brief history of the lodge.

Time at leisure to enjoy the pool, explore the lodge's gardens or relax in your hammock, surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest.

Celebrate the end of a busy day with a get-together on the lodge's patio with your CRLA instructors. Enjoy some casual conversation in Spanish before heading to dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Sarapiqui -
Spanish Lessons/Tirimbina Chocolate Tour/Biological Corridor Project.

(Thursday, January 17)
 Breakfast: Optional birdwatching around the lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Full morning of Spanish classes at the lodge.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Field trip to Tirimbina Rainforest Center to learn about traditional methods for cultivating and harvesting cacao and the process of turning it into chocolate. The 2.5 hour tour will include a site lecture on the pre- and post-colonial history of chocolate.

Tirimbina is a nature center located in the La Tirimbina community, in the northeastern lowlands of Costa Rica. Their primary mission is to provide environmental education and promote research opportunities that will eventually lead to conservation. The organization works closely with schools in the region (4th and 6th grades), offering inquiry-based learning activities that help to raise environmental awareness and appreciation within the local communities.

Return to the lodge.

Presentation: Selva Verde and the Biological Corridor Project.

Before dinner, meet on the lodge's patio with your CRLA instructors, for some casual conversation in Spanish.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Depart for a local bar/restaurant for an evening of Spanish karaoke with members of the community. Drinks are not included.
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Sarapiqui -
Spanish Lessons/Sarapiqui River Nature Boat Ride/Walking Exploration of Puerto Viejo.

(Friday, January 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: After breakfast, embark on a nature boat ride on the Sarapiqui River to learn about this ecosystem and its resident wildlife. There will also be an opportunity to interact with a local family that lives on the banks of the river. Learn how the river plays a significant role in their daily lives.

Visit the frontier town of Puerto Viejo accompanied by a group of women from the town. Learn about their favorite shops, cafés, and restaurants and discover what type of medical facilities and social services are available in this small community.

Return to the lodge.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy some free time to rest and prepare for your afternoon lessons with CRLA instructors.

Spanish classes at the lodge.
Time at leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: San Jose -
Exploring Dowtown San Jose and a Local Supermarket.

(Saturday, January 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Transfer back to San José (approximately 2.5 hours).
 Lunch: Farewell lunch celebration at the Costa Rica Language Academy.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a visit to a local supermarket with your guide.

Arrive at your hotel and check-in.

Free time to relax or work on your packing.
 Dinner: Goodbye dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Depart from San José.
Arrive to the U.S.

(Sunday, January 20)
 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 time).

Meals Included: Breakfast
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

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.

Insight Guide Costa Rica

Author: Paul Murphy

Description: Thoroughly illustrated, this sturdy and informative guide features short essays on the natural history, culture and attractions of Costa Rica, hundreds of photographs and excellent local maps.

Culture Smart! Costa Rica

Author: Jane Koutnik

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

The Ticos

Author: Richard Biesanz

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

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.

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.

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 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.

Mammals of Costa Rica

Author: Fiona Reid

Description: A palm-sized guide to 65 native mammals with handsome full-color illustrations and helpful descriptions. Includes a map, viewing tips and a checklist.

Costa Rica, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Barbara Ras

Description: A wonderful introduction to the character of the people, culture and land, this anthology brings together 26 stories by Costa Rican writers.

Costa Rican Wildlife

Author: Pocket Naturalist

Description: Put it in your pocket! This handy, fold-up card includes color illustrations of dozens of typical birds, mammals and reptiles.

Costa Rica Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic

Description: A double-sided map at a scale of 1:500,000.

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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.

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