Road Scholar : Home
At Your Pace: The Natural Wonders of Costa Rica

Program Number: 17988RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/4/2013 - 9/14/2013; 11/11/2014 - 11/21/2014; 12/7/2014 - 12/17/2014; 1/6/2015 - 1/16/2015; 1/11/2015 - 1/21/2015; 1/18/2015 - 1/28/2015; 2/1/2015 - 2/11/2015; 2/8/2015 - 2/18/2015; 2/15/2015 - 2/25/2015; 3/1/2015 - 3/11/2015; 3/10/2015 - 3/20/2015; 4/11/2015 - 4/21/2015; 9/13/2015 - 9/23/2015; 10/17/2015 - 10/27/2015; 11/3/2015 - 11/13/2015; 12/5/2015 - 12/15/2015;
Duration: 10 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $1,873.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: ; Natural History
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt    

Enjoy the natural history, biodiversity and friendly attitude of Costa Rica at a leisurely pace that allows you to learn the true meaning of “pura vida.” Discover the rainforest, Arenal Volcano and the Pacific coastline. Interact with Costa Ricans from campesinos (farmers) to small business owners and American expatriates. Experience Costa Rica by water on boat excursions exploring the Sarapiqui and Tarcoles rivers and an ocean canoe ride. This program has been specially designed to minimize walking and travel time and maximize opportunities to connect with your surroundings.




Highlights

• Observe the Arenal Volcano from two prime vantage points and learn how scientists monitor its activity.
• Encounter the mighty crocodile and other creatures of the mangroves on a Tarcoles River boat excursion.
• Enjoy several opportunities for informal conversations with Costa Rican people.



Activity Particulars

Walking distances the equivalent of a few blocks. As many of the activities as possible will be conducted in and around the lodges and hotels.




Date Specific Information

11-11-2014, 12-7-2014, 1-6-2015, 1-11-2015, 1-18-2015, 2-1-2015, 2-8-2015, 2-15-2015, 3-1-2015, 3-10-2015, 4-11-2015, 9-13-2015, 10-17-2015, 11-3-2015, 12-5-2015

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



Itinerary Summary

Arrival San Jose, 1 night; coach to Sarapiqui, 3 nights; coach to Arenal, 3 nights; coach to Punta Leona, 2 nights; coach to San Jose, 1 night; departure.



Arrival San José
1 night
Coach to Sarapiquí
3 nights

In San José, examine the superb collection of gold objects at the underground Pre-Columbian Gold Museum and step inside the grand National Theater. Journey into the Caribbean rainforest of Sarapiquí to an ecolodge that will be your base for field trips exploring this amazing natural environment. Learn about life in this area as you chat with community members at the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center. See colorful birds and caimans along the Sarapiquí River on a boat excursion.



Coach to Arenal
3 nights

En route to Arenal, discover a pepper plantation and visit with a rural community. In Arenal Volcano National Park, marvel at this “perfect” volcano and learn about its moods and impact on the surrounding environment. Enjoy lunch at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, where an expert teaches you how the volcano is monitored. Take a short walk on Arenal’s hanging bridges and absorb sweeping views of Lake Arenal.



Coach to Punta Leona
2 nights
Coach to San José for departure
1 night

In the mountain village of Sarchi, see colorful ox carts and furniture built by local artisans. Arrive at Punta Leona in time to see the sunset over the Pacific and enjoy a lecture on coastal biodiversity. Observe wildlife and the various geological formations on an outrigger canoe ride.




Costa Rica

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



Accommodations
San Jose: Centrally located hotel. Sarapiqui: Ecolodge on Sarapiqui River. Arenal: Resort with volcano views. Punta Leona: Beach resort. San Jose: Comfortable hotel near airport.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Balmoral
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Arenal Manoa Hotel
  Arenal, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Hotel Punta Leona
  Punta Leona, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 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
  Additional nights prior: Prices starting at $75. Additional nights are subject to hotel availability.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Selva Verde Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Rainforest lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.
  Contact info: Chilamate
Sarapiqui,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506 2-766-6800
web: www.selvaverde.com
  Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, and bar.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Arenal Manoa Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Arenal Manoa Hotel is a beautiful place to rest, relax and enjoy the marvelous view of Arenal Volcano. Surrounded by gardens, pastures and animals, our rooms have been designed so that each one offers you a panoramic view of the volcano. Our visitors can take advantage of our spacious gardens for walking and meditation as well as the opportunities to see the daily operations of a typical Costa Rican farm
  Contact info: 7 kilometers west from La Fortuna and 800 meters from the main
Arenal,   Costa Rica
phone: +(506) 24791111
web: www.arenalmanoa.com
  Room amenities: Our rooms, have been designed to take advantage of the panoramic view of the Volcano from your own room. Also enjoy wide open spaces both inside and outside your room. Each room is equipped with: •Two queen sized beds •Air conditioning •Satellite television •Private Bath with hot water and a hair dryer •Telephone •Terrace with a view of the volcano •Refrigerator •Safe-Deposit Box •Coffee Maker Arenal Manoa is a destiny created for you to enjoy the combination of a high quality service and an exuberant nature beauty. Everything start with our rooms that combines a modern and rustic architecture, with plenty space for your comfort, where you can enjoy the view of the Arenal Volcano from your own bed, also a big bathroom with an little garden just to remember the natural beauties that surround us and the balcony where you can delight with the panoramic view and the gardens that are around the rooms, while you rest in a rocking chair.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hotel Punta Leona
Type: Resort
  Description: Tropical rainforest and beach resort located on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Part of the 750 acres is a nature reserve boasting 250 species of birds, a variety of monkeys, sloths, armadillos and a macaw breeding project.
  Contact info: Road to Tarcoles
Punta Leona,  000000 Costa Rica
phone: +5062-231-3131
web: www.hotelpuntaleona.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, mini refrigerator, safety box, telephone, and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Pools, restaurants, bar, tennis court, disco, mini golf, and beach access.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 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
web: http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/costa-rica/san-jose/wyndham-san-jose-herradura-hotel-convention-center/hotel-overview
  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 roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com 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 Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Hotel Balmoral 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 Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Proof of vaccination is required from travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic. It is always best to renew your passport before it reaches the six month validity date—especially if you plan on doing future travel. For more information about entry requirements please contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC at tel: (202) 234-2945/46 or visit www.costarica-embassy.org.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest airport:  San José's International Airport
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto is the official airport taxi company and their booth can be found outside of the Baggage Claim area. They provide safe and reliable service and their fares can be prepaid in dollars. The Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto vehicles are orange in color and have their logo emblazoned on the side. Tel: (506) 2222-6865/www.taxisunidosaeropuerto.com.
  From End of Program
  Location: San José
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available at the hotel. If you wish to hire a taxi, please ask for assistance at the hotel’s front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
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, September 4)
   
 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 Balmoral

Day 2: Sarapiqui -
Program Orientation/National Theater/Gold Museum.

(Thursday, September 5)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Program Orientation.
Lecture: An Overview of Costa Rica.
Excursion to the National Theater and Gold Museum with site lectures.

Just a short drive from the hotel is the historical National Theater and the Grand Hotel Costa Rica. The significance of coffee production on the history of Costa Rica will be explained during a visit to the National Theater, which was built during the coffee boom in the late 1800’s. There is ample seating in the plaza where people-watching will stimulate a discussion on demographics and the socio-economic distribution of the population. Scholars will understand what it means to be a ‘Tico.’

Adjacent to the National Theater is the Gold Museum; this unique underground museum showcases a large collection of pre-Colombian gold. The 2,000-pieces weigh over 20,000 troy ounces, making the museum one of the wealthiest spots in the nation. Visitors with an interest in stamp and/or coin collecting might appreciate the philatelic museum and the adjoining numismatic museum.

The visit to the Gold Museum will showcase a limited number of exhibits, thus reducing the amount of time participants will be required to remain standing (approx. 30 minutes).

 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Depart for Sarapiqui, situated in the Caribbean lowlands and 40 miles from San José.

Sarapiqui 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 at the lodge.
Orientation to the lodge.

Brief introductory lecture on Sarapiqui's natural history.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Sarapiqui -
Nature Walk/Cultural Interaction/Pineapple Plantation.

(Friday, September 6)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning bird watching.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Enjoy a short walk in the grounds of the lodge to identify the characteristics of local and introduced plants.

Field trip to a local pineapple plantation to see first-hand the pineapple growing process. A site lecture will focus on the environmental and economic impact of growing pineapples in Costa Rica, one of the top ten producers of pineapples in the world.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to rest and enjoy the lodge's amenities.

Snacks on the patio with pre dinner table talk, a question and answer session dealing with topics relating to Costa Rica and an orientation session by the Sarapiqui Conservation & Learning Center.

The Sarapiqui Learning Center (SCLC), founded in the mid-1990s, is a registered non-profit organization whose mission is to link communities and conservation through education and ecotourism in the Sarapiqui region. Programs include environmental education, ecotourism activities, English classes, an ecology club, community outreach, a women’s group and many others.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sarapiqui -
Nature Boat Ride/Community Projects.

(Saturday, September 7)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning bird watching.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Field trip: Nature boat ride on the Sarapiqui River, followed by time spent in the river frontier town of Puerto Viejo.

The boat ride will introduce the birds and animals that frequent the riverine vegetation, including caimans and a variety of water birds. A site lecture during the boat ride will draw attention to the land utilization on the river banks and the human impact on the ecology of the river system.

The lifestyle of those living in the frontier town of Pt Viejo will be part of a site lecture during a drive through town.

An interactive session with a member of the local community will provide insight into individual sustainable projects being undertaken in conjunction with tourism.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure.

Enjoy a lecture on the importance of Selva Verde in the creation of a biological corridor between the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Caribbean coast. This lecture will highlight the plants and animals found in and associated with the rainforest at Selva Verde.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Arenal -
Visit to Local Community/Introduction to Arenal.

(Sunday, September 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Field trip to a local village and a pepper plantation in the Sarapiqui region for a first-hand experiece of rural life in Costa Rica.

Transfer to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Arrival at the hotel, in the vicinity of the Arenal Volcano.

After check-in, enjoy a brief orientation to the hotel.

The Arenal Volcano looks like it could have been imagined by Hollywood. A perfect conical shape, the active volcano provides frequent thrills and threatens danger, but its activity occurs at a distance from the people of nearby towns. This combination of geography, scenery, and activity, has drawn countless visitors.

Time at leisure.
Lecture: The Arenal Volcano.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Manoa Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Arenal -
Arenal Volcano National Park.

(Monday, September 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: This morning's field trip commences with a bus ride to the Arenal National Park observation point. While at the observation point, we will discuss the moods of the volcano and the impact of its emissions on the human development and flora and fauna of the region.

Continue to 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

The National Park is situated right in the vicinity of Arenal Volcano. Although clouds often obscure the peak of the volcano, during clear days it is possible to see gases and steam rising from the cone. It is interesting to see how the periodic lava flows have contributed to the erratic growth of vegetation in the areas around the volcano.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.
 Afternoon: Return to the hotel.
Time at leisure to enjoy the hotel's thermal hot springs and other amenities.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Manoa Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Arenal -
Suspension Bridges/Argricultural Practices in the Region.

(Tuesday, September 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Excursion to the Arenal Hanging Bridges, for a commanding view of Lake Arenal and the volcano. Enjoy a short walk on the lower elevation bridges with a site lecture on the structure of a rainforest--from ground level to canopy.
 Lunch: Lunch at hotel.
 Afternoon: The small and painteresque town of Fortuna has changed quite a bit from the village that witnessed the eruptions of Arenal Volcano in 1968. Once a small agricultural community, Fortuna has grown in the shadow of the colossus that once burned and devastated large areas. Tourism is now the most important income for the region. Although 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.

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

Pre-dinner tortilla making activity at a local farm.
 Dinner: Traditional dinner at the farm hosted by the family.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Manoa Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Punta Leona -
Tárcoles River Boat Ride/Scarlet Macaw Rehabilitation Projects.

(Wednesday, September 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Tranfer to Punta Leona.

Boating field trip on the Tárcoles River to view wildlife and investigate the mangrove forest.

Site lecture: The Life History of the Costa Rica Crocodile.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Continue the transfer to Punta Leona.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in, followed by an orientation to the property and its amenities.

Time at leisure to enjoy the beach or hotel pools.

Lecture: Rehabilitating the Scarlet Macaw and Other Conservation Projects in the Region.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Punta Leona -
Outrigger Activities at Playa Agujas/Jaco Beach.

(Thursday, September 12)
   
 Breakfast: Late breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Excursion to Playa Agujas for an outrigger canoe ride along the coast. Enjoy the opportunity to observe wildlife and the various geological formations.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some time at leisure to relax and enjoy the many hotel amenities.

Later in the afternoon, transfer to Jaco Beach for a site lecture on the growth and development of the town and its reputation as a surfing mecca in Costa Rica.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant in Jaco Beach.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: San José -
Sarchi Crafts/Return to San José

(Friday, September 13)
   
 Breakfast: Late breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Depart to San José via the crafts town of Sarchi where ox carts, traditional furniture and other artifacts are created and on display.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Continue the trasfer to San José

Arrive in San José and check-in at hotel.

Time at leisure. Optional visit to a local mall.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at hotel.
   
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (previously a Ramada property)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Departures -
International Flights to the U.S.

(Saturday, September 14)
   
 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 (dependent on flights).
   
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


Culture Smart! Costa Rica


Author: Jane Koutnik


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



Lonely Planet Costa Rica Country Guide


Author: Lonely Planet


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



Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish


Author: Lonely Planet


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



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.



National Geographic Costa Rica


Author: Christopher P. Baker


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



The Ticos


Author: Richard Biesanz


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



The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide


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


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



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


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



Tropical Plants of Costa Rica


Author: Willow Zuchowski


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





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