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

Program Number: 11586RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/11/2014 - 11/23/2014; 12/2/2014 - 12/14/2014; 12/7/2014 - 12/19/2014; 1/3/2015 - 1/15/2015; 1/6/2015 - 1/18/2015; 1/10/2015 - 1/22/2015; 1/13/2015 - 1/25/2015; 1/17/2015 - 1/29/2015; 1/19/2015 - 1/31/2015; 1/24/2015 - 2/5/2015; 1/25/2015 - 2/6/2015; 1/27/2015 - 2/8/2015; 1/31/2015 - 2/12/2015; 2/1/2015 - 2/13/2015; 2/3/2015 - 2/15/2015; 2/9/2015 - 2/21/2015; 2/10/2015 - 2/22/2015; 2/14/2015 - 2/26/2015; 2/15/2015 - 2/27/2015; 2/17/2015 - 3/1/2015; 2/22/2015 - 3/6/2015; 3/1/2015 - 3/13/2015; 3/2/2015 - 3/14/2015; 3/3/2015 - 3/15/2015; 3/7/2015 - 3/19/2015; 3/9/2015 - 3/21/2015; 3/14/2015 - 3/26/2015; 3/15/2015 - 3/27/2015; 3/17/2015 - 3/29/2015; 4/11/2015 - 4/23/2015; 4/22/2015 - 5/4/2015; 5/12/2015 - 5/24/2015; 6/2/2015 - 6/14/2015; 7/14/2015 - 7/26/2015; 8/4/2015 - 8/16/2015; 9/8/2015 - 9/20/2015; 9/18/2015 - 9/30/2015; 10/12/2015 - 10/24/2015; 10/20/2015 - 11/1/2015; 11/4/2015 - 11/16/2015; 11/5/2015 - 11/17/2015; 11/9/2015 - 11/21/2015; 11/30/2015 - 12/12/2015; 12/7/2015 - 12/19/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $2,429.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History
Meals: 34; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

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




Highlights

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



Activity Particulars

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



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




Date Specific Information

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

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



1-6-2015

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



1-24-2015

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



1-27-2015

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



2-1-2015

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



2-9-2015

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



2-17-2015

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



2-22-2015

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



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

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



Itinerary Summary

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



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

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



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

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



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

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




Costa Rica

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



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

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

Edwin Ramirez is a superior naturalist group leader with more than 20 years of experience in the field. As the son of a farmer, he spent his formative years working with the soil, cultivating coffee, tomatoes, cabbages and other crops while pursuing his education. After graduating from high school in 1982, he enrolled in the Universidad de Costa Rica in Heredia where he began working towards a degree in tropical biology. Edwin eventually transferred to the San Ramon branch of the Universidad de Costa Rica and decided to change his major to become an English teacher. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in 1990 and began teaching high school English. During his time teaching, he realized how much he missed the outdoors and decided to look for professional opportunities that would allow him to combine both his love for nature and teaching. In 1991, Edwin began working as a naturalist guide and has since become a much sought-after group leader, specializing in natural history and birding programs.
 
Paulo Valerio

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

Marino Chacón’s family were the first settlers in the San Gerardo de Dota Valley, located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. They established a dairy farm and orchard, and later transformed the farm into a mountain lodge and nature reserve. With the family's focus turning to environmental travel, Marino decided to study English and enrolled in courses with the National Learning Institute (INA). An avid nature lover since he was a kid, Marino went on to earn his naturalist certification from Las Quebradas Biological Center Foundation and worked as a resident naturalist and birding guide at his family lodge. His involvement in the development of Los Quetzales National Park initiative and the conservation of the local highland oak forests have earned him a position of respect within the community. Marino has participated in forums sponsored by the University for International Cooperation and UNESCO, and courses led by the Tropical Agronomical Center for Education and Research.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
  San José, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Pachira Lodge
  Tortuguero, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Arenal Manoa Hotel
  Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Hotel Punta Leona
  Punta Leona, Costa Rica 2 nights
   Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa
  San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica 1 night
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
  San José, Costa Rica 1 night
 Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Radisson Hotel San José is conveniently situated in the commercial district near San José's historic center.
  Contact info: Calle Central y Tercera Av. 15
Calle Blancos
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-20106000
web: www.radisson.com
  Room amenities: Private bathroom, hair dryer, air conditioning, alarm clock radio, Sleep Number® beds, Wi-Fi, in-room safe, iPod dock, coffee maker, mini bar/refrigerator, flat screen TV and cable channels, and two telephone lines.
  Facility amenities: Business center, Wi-Fi, fitness center, whirlpool and pool, executive lounge, on-site casino, spacious meeting rooms, laundry services, 24-hr room service, and two on-site restaurants. The hotel is able to offer airport shuttle services for an additional charge. This service must be booked in advance, directly through the hotel. Email requests can be sent to jriba@radisson.co.cr.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for questions about room availability and prices. Room types and rates are subject to availability.

 Pachira Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The rainforest is an unforgettable experience at this riverfront lodge located five minutes by boat from Tortuguero National Park. Rooms have high ceilings, large windows and are decorated with exotic bamboo furniture and local artwork.
  Contact info: Tortuguero, Limon,   Costa Rica
phone: +506 2256-7080
web: www.pachiralodge.com
  Room amenities: Ceiling fans and private baths.
  Facility amenities: Pool, restaurant and bar. No laundry services are available at this lodge.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Selva Verde Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: 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: +506-2-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com
  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

 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: +506-22313131
web: www.hotelpuntaleona.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, mini refrigerator, safety box, telephone, and hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Pools, restaurants, bar, business center (internet use at an additional cost), conference facilities, tennis court, disco, mini golf, and beach access.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa is located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. The hotel is at an elevation of approximately 7,220 ft and is situated in a private cloud forest reserve that borders the Los Quetzales National Park. Its private reserve has earned a reputation for being one of the best places to spot the elusive Resplendent Quetzal--one of the country's most colorful birds. To reach this attractive highland property it is necessary to travel on switchbacks and narrow mountain roads reaching elevations of up to 11,000 ft at Cerro de la Muerte.
  Contact info: San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
web: www.savegre.com
  Room amenities: Rooms have private baths and heating system or fireplace. No air conditioning is necessary since the hotel is located in a mountainous region (approximately 7,220 ft above sea level) known for its clean and crisp air.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, spa services, gardens, nature reserve, trails, and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
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: www.wyndhamherradura.com
  Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, iron/ironing board, and complimentary Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, travel agency, a souvenir shop, and WiFi in public areas. 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. Please call the hotel or check at the front desk if you would like to use this service.
  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 Jose, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose, Costa Rica. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Proof of vaccination is required from travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic. It is always best to renew your passport before it reaches the six month validity date--especially if you plan on doing future travel. For more information about entry requirements please contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC at tel: (202) 234-2945/46 or visit www.costarica-embassy.org.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San José
  Nearest city or town:  San Jose
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santa Maria International Airport
  Transportation to site: There are two types of taxi services available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The most reliable one is the Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto--the official airport taxi service. A Taxis Unidos kiosk is located at the airport exit. The drivers wear company uniforms and the orange taxis have the Taxis Unidos logo emblazoned on the driver's door and passenger's door. The taxis are metered and fares can be paid in dollars or colones. www.taxiaeropuerto.com There are also regular metered taxis available outside the airport exit. These are typically red with medallions (yellow triangles containing numbers) painted on the side. Although these are usually a cheaper option, we suggest using the official taxis for the sake of safety and reliable fares.
  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 Gerardo de Dota/Savegre 7,220 feet/Driving through Cerro de la Muerte approx. 11,000 feet.

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.
(Saturday, January 3)
   
 Evening: Arrive in San José, Costa Rica.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. When leaving the restricted arrivals area of airport, please be sure to use the exit door on the right. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting just outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign.

Transfer to your hotel.

Note: This is an international travel day and does not include any meals. Hotel check-in typically begins at 3 p.m.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica

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

(Sunday, January 4)

Note: This program includes a number of bus transfers. The air conditioned Road Scholar bus does not have a bathroom on board. However, the program includes stops for program activities, meals, and/or basic pit stops that help to break up longer travel times. Stops are built into the schedule for every 1.5 - 2 hours of bus travel.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Program Orientation.

Get to know your group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Excursion to Doka Coffee Estate for a look at coffee production in Costa Rica. Discuss emerging concepts concerning coffee production such as: fair trade, sustainable practices, and shade grown.

Doka Estate coffee is one of Costa Rica's highest quality coffees. The Doka Coffee Estate is located on the fertile slopes of the Alajuela Poas Volcano, the rich soil and the ideal altitude and climate have made the Santa Eduviges farm famous because of it's excellent coffee.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field trip to INBio Parque with guided walks through the outdoor habitat model exhibits and collections. Your group leader will provide an overview of ecosystems of Costa Rica and its protected areas.

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

Return to the hotel.
Lecture: Biodiversity of Costa Rica.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Monday, January 5)

Note: Bus drive from San José to boat dock: 3.5 hours. There will be an en route stop for breakfast at a local restaurant. River boat ride to Tortuguero: 1.5 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Early morning check-out of hotel.

Breakfast at local restaurant.
 Morning: Transfer to dock and board river boat to Tortuguero.

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

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Excursion to local village.

Visit to Sea Turtle Conservancy (formerly Caribbean Conservation Corporation) field station for video/slide show presentation.

Return to the lodge.
Pre-dinner lecture: History and Overview of Tortuguero.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities and free time.
   
Accommodations: Pachira Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Tortuguero –
Boating and Hiking Excursions.

(Tuesday, January 6)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning canal safari in Tortuguero National Park.
Return to the lodge.

Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: After breakfast, join your group leader on a hike along secondary forest trails. Learn about riparian vegetation and endemic wildlife. Target species in this area include caymans, monkeys, and sea and river turtles.

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

Return to the lodge in time for lunch.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. This is the perfect chance to enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool, take a stroll around the lodge, or just settle into a comfortable chair with a great book.

Late afternoon boat safari on local canals. Look for endemic and migrant birds as well as howler monkeys, caymans, bats, turtles, and more! Although wildlife observation tends to take the front seat during these activities, do not ignore the unique flora of this lush region. Some of the important trees and plants found here include the kativo, almendro, sangrillo, and pachira.

Return to the lodge.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities.

Short guided walk around the lodge grounds.
   
Accommodations: Pachira Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sarapiqui -
Rainforest Hike.

(Wednesday, January 7)

Note: River boat ride from Tortuguero to boat dock: 1.5 hours. The bus drive from the dock to Sarapiqui takes approximately 2.5 hours.



   
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Boat and land transfer to Sarapiqui, in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.

Sarapiquí is one of the richest sites for birds in Middle America with well over 400 species recorded. Nearby, the La Selva Protection Zone and the Braulio Carrillo National Park form the only significant corridor of forest on the Caribbean slope linking the highlands with the lowlands - a corridor crucial to birds and animals that undertake seasonal altitudinal migrations.

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

Lecture: The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Sarapiqui -
Optional Birding/River Rafting/Visit to Local Plantation.

(Thursday, January 8)
   
 Breakfast: Optional, early morning guided birding in lodge environs.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: After breakfast, enjoy an exhilarating river rafting excursion.

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

Return to the lodge.
Snacks and music on the patio.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Arenal -
Arenal Volcano National Park.

(Friday, January 9)

Note: Bus drive from Sarapiqui to Arenal takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.



   
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Check-out of the lodge.
Begin 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.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon there is a field trip to Arenal National Park. Walk along Las Coladas trail to observe up close views of the volcano and also witness the regeneration process of the vegetation that was once affected by past volcanic activity. There are also privileged views of the Arenal Lake and the surrounding areas during the walk.

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

Return to the hotel.
Pre-dinner lecture: Volcanology.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Free time at the hotel. Gather around for a friendly game of cards, get a good night's rest in preparation for tomorrow's activities, or observe Arenal Volcano by night from the comfort of your porch. If you are lucky, you might be able to see the reddish orange glow of lava on the rim of the volcano and hear distant popping sounds as rocks are ejected from the crater.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Manoa Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Arenal -
Arenal Hanging Bridges/Local Farm Visit/Dinner with Local Family.

(Saturday, January 10)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Arenal Hanging Bridges.

This private nature reserve in La Fortuna de San Carlos features a network of standing bridges, hanging bridges, and trails that crisscross 250 hectares of tropical rainforest. The park’s mission is to provide natural history education in a responsible and sustainable way. Visitors are able to view the rainforest from different angles and heights, from ground level to canopy level, learning firsthand about this fascinating and biologically diverse environment.

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure to explore La Fortuna town, enjoy a relaxing soak in your hotel's thermal springs, or make use of other hotel amenities.

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

Before dinner, work-up an appetitite while learning to make tortillas and then cooking them on a traditional wood stove.
 Dinner: Traditional dinner at the farm, hosted by the family.

Enjoy a dance presentation performed by local school children.
 Evening: Return to the hotel and free time.
   
Accommodations: Arenal Manoa Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Sunday, January 11)

Note: Bus drive from Arenal to the Punta Leona/Pacific Coast takes approximately 4 to 4.5 hours.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Begin transfer to Punta Leona, on the Pacific Coast.

Crocodile Safari boat ride on the Tarcoles River.

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

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

Enjoy a guided orientation to Punta Leona, followed by a lecture.
Lecture: Central Pacific Region: Conservation and Development.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Monday, January 12)
   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning birding.

Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Carara National Park.

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

Return to the hotel.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure to enjoy the beaches, pools, and other amenities at your hotel.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Overview of next day's activities.
   
Accommodations: Hotel Punta Leona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

(Tuesday, January 13)

Note: Bus drive from Pacific Coast to San Gerardo de Dota takes approximately 5 hours. Travel is broken up by en route stops for program activities and lunch.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Check-out of the hotel.

Field trip to Hacienda Baru for a look at local conservation efforts. Guided walk on small loop trail and lecture. Lecture: An Overview of Baru's Reforestation Project.

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

Arrive at the lodge and check-in.

Time at leisure.

Walk around the cloud forest grounds of the hotel.

Lecture: The History of the San Gerardo Valley.

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

Day 12: San José -
Optional Birding/Savegre Forest/Farewell Dinner.

(Wednesday, January 14)

Note: Bus drive from San Gerardo de Dota to San José takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning birding around the lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Guided nature walk in the Savegre Forest, adjacent to Los Quetzales National Park. During this activity, you will have the chance to learn about the life history of the Resplendent Quetzal and the flora and fauna of the highland cloud forest.

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

Arrive in San José and check-in at the hotel.

Enjoy a little bit of free time to rest and freshen up before dinner.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at hotel.
 Evening: Free time. Spend your last evening in Costa Rica with your new Road Scholar friends, finish your packing, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for international departures tomorrow.
   
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Depart to the U.S.

(Thursday, January 15)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel (depending on flight departure time).
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for flight to the U.S.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.

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.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

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

Suggested Reading List


Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide


Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer


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



A Brief History of Central America


Author: Hector Perez-Brignoll


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



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


Author: Joseph Franke and Joseph Dimijian


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



Culture Smart! Costa Rica


Author: Jane Koutnik


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



Lonely Planet Costa Rica Country Guide


Author: Lonely Planet


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



Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish


Author: Lonely Planet


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



National Geographic Costa Rica


Author: Christopher P. Baker


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



The New Key to Costa Rica


Author: Beatrice Blake


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



The Ticos


Author: Richard Biesanz


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



The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide


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


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



Tropical Nature


Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata


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



Tropical Plants of Costa Rica


Author: Willow Zuchowski


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





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