This should be a must tour visit for any traveler wanting to learn about countries in Central America. Friendly absolute helpful local people. Great food, and great road scholar staff and community. Rodney Benson, Flushing, NY.
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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Check-in at the hotel then take some time to freshen up and relax. Orientation: 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Meals on our program feature local cuisine. In many cases, they will be plated and served set meals; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Beverages included in the program price are coffee and water; other beverages are usually available for purchase. Travel and transfers will be via air-conditioned bus unless specified otherwise. The bus does not have a restroom on board; however, there will be stops at least every two hours for program activities, meals, and/or basic pit stops to break up longer travel times. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: At the hotel; coffee and water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars. Prepare for hotel check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting on/off a bus with several steps. Walking at an easy pace; mostly flat terrain.
Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation that will provide insights into Costa Rica’s famed biodiversity. We’ll then board our bus, and ride to the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica — the National Museum. There, a local expert will take us on an informative museum walk detailing the country’ cultural history. The museum stands proudly in San José’s Plaza de Democracia, housed in the former Bellavista Fortress directly across from the Legislative Assembly. Its work is focused on scientific investigation, education, exhibition, and defense of the country’s natural and cultural heritage. The collections and exhibits trace significant aspects of Costa Rica’s human and natural history, culture, and heritage from pre-Columbian times to the present day. Next, we will reboard our bus and ride to the Café Britt coffee farm in Barva de Heredia.
Lunch: At Café Britt, we’ll have a buffet lunch with water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: At Café Britt, the country’s first established gourmet coffee roaster, an expert will take us on an interactive walk through the coffee farm to see how coffee is grown, harvested, and processed for consumption. We will learn from a “cupper” (a professional coffee taster) the proper way to taste coffee in order to identify the quality of the brew. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Evening: We’ll re-group at the hotel for an overview of tomorrow’s activities. Prepare for hotel-check out and early morning transfer.
Activity note: Getting on/off a bus, on/off a river boat. Driving about 75 miles, approximately 3.5 hours including stop. River boat ride to Tortuguero approximately 1.5 hours.
Breakfast: After early morning hotel check-out, we will drive to a local restaurant for a buffet breakfast with juice, coffee, and water included.
Morning: We will drive to a local dock and board a river boat to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast, south of Nicaragua and 50 miles north of the principal port of Limon. The park comprises Caribbean beaches, swamp forest, lowland rainforest, and a picturesque network of natural waterways. There is an incredible diversity of plant and animal life including more than 100 reptile species, 60 mammal species, and hundreds of bird species. Tortuguero gets its name from the large sea turtles that come ashore each year from July through October to nest on the 27-mile long black sand beach. Arrive at the lodge, we will check in with some time to freshen up and relax before lunch.
Lunch: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet meal with coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll take a quick boat to the local village where we’ll accompany our Group Leader on a walking in the community to see how folks live. We’ll then walk from the village to the Sea Turtle Conservancy field station for video/slide show presentation to learn about their mission and to find out why Tortuguero Beach is so important for the survival of endangered green turtles. Return by boat to the lodge, we’ll have a presentation by a long-time resident on the history of Tortuguero.
Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet meal with coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: After a review of tomorrow’s activities, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Overview of next day’s activities and time at leisure.
Activity note: Early morning (pre-breakfast) canal safari in Tortuguero National Park to spot local wildlife. Getting in/out of motorized river boats. Walking 1-2 miles; often muddy forest trails; wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes you can get dirty; hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, binoculars, walking stick recommended.
Breakfast: At the lodge after our early morning canal safari, the breakfast buffet includes juice, coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll set out on a hike along secondary forest trails to learn about riparian vegetation and endemic wildlife. Target species in this area include caimans, 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. We will return to the lodge in time for lunch.
Lunch: Lodge buffet.
Afternoon: We’ll have some time to relax before our afternoon field trip. You might like 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. Mid-afternoon, we’ll embark on a boat safari on local canals. As we navigate these waterways, we will look for endemic and migrant birds as well as howler monkeys, caimans, bats, turtles, and more. Although wildlife observation tends to take the front seat during these activities, the unique flora of this lush region including trees and plants such as the kativo, almendro, sangrillo, and pachira. We’ll return to the lodge at the end of our field trip.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: After an overview of tomorrow’s activities, our Group Leader will take us on a walk around the lodge grounds to look for nocturnal species. Then prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: River boat ride from Tortuguero to boat dock approximately 1.5 hours; bus drive from dock to Sarapiquí approximately 2.5 hours.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: After checkout, we’ll take a boat and land transfer to our lodge in Sarapiquí, 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.
Lunch: At a restaurant en route, we’ll have a buffet lunch with coffee and water included.
Afternoon: Arriving at the lodge, we’ll check in with some time to freshen up before our next activity. Later in the afternoon, we’ll go on a rainforest hike in the lodge’s private reserve with our Group Leader who will point out native flora and fauna. We’ll return to the lodge for a presentation by a local expert on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) initiated in 1997. This system of land planning consists of four types of areas, from protected ecosystems for the preservation of species to mixed use areas and the corridors connecting them.
Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet meal with coffee, tea, water.
Evening: We’ll have an overview of tomorrow’s activities, then enjoy the lodge amenities.
Activity note: Early morning (pre-breakfast) birding walk in lodge environs. Wear comfortable clothes, walking shoes, insect repellent; binoculars recommended. For river rafting, wear a bathing suit and water shoes or sport sandals; apply sunscreen well before water activity.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet after returning from early morning birding walk.
Morning: We’ll enjoy an exhilarating river rafting excursion where we’ll participate in paddling. Each raft will have its own rafting expert who will sit at the back to navigate and direct participants on how and when to paddle. We’ll return to the lodge to freshen-up and change clothes, then board our bus and ride to a local heart of palm plantation. A local expert will lead our walk through the plantation to learn about the cultivation process and how the heart of palm is extracted. During lunch we’ll have the opportunity to sample dishes made with some of the freshly harvested hearts of palm.
Lunch: At the plantation, we’ll have an opportunity to sample dishes made with some of the freshly harvested hearts of palm.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll drive to a local farm to learn about cacao production and the secrets of making chocolate. We'll accompany a local expert on a brief walking exploration of the property as we learn how cacao is grown, harvested, processed, and turned into chocolate. An added treat--we will have the opportunity to sample different kinds of chocolate! We’ll return to the lodge after our field trip.
Dinner: Lodge buffet.
Evening: After an overview of the activities for tomorrow, including check-out and transfer to Arenal, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. This is a great time to listen for the rainforest’s nocturnal inhabitants. You might be relaxing in your hammock as you try to distinguish one call from another. Frogs, owls, bats, tepezquintles (pacas), moths, and various other creatures of the night come out as most of us get ready for bed.
Activity note: The drive to Arenal is about 61 miles, approximately 2.5 to 3 hours including stops. Walking approximately 2.5 miles, about 1 hour; irregular terrain including forest trails and lava rocks. Opportunity to use hotel thermal pools during free time.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: Checking out of the lodge, we’ll begin our transfer to Arenal. After arriving at the Arenal Volcano National Park, we'll set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader along Las Coladas trail. We will observe up close views of the volcano and witness the regeneration process of the vegetation that was once affected by past volcanic activity. There are also excellent views of the Arenal Lake and surrounding areas during our 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. We will learn how periodic lava flows have contributed to the erratic growth of vegetation in the areas around the volcano.
Lunch: At a restaurant with coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, we will stop at the picturesque town of La Fortuna for a chance to take pictures and walk along its streets before continuing to the hotel. Arriving at the hotel, we will check in with some time to freshen up. We’ll then have a pre-dinner presentation by a local expert on the history of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.
Dinner: At the hotel with coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. You might like to have a rejuvenating soak in the hotel’s thermal springs.
Activity note: Walking on forest trails and hanging bridges; wear comfortable clothing and closed-toe walking shoes. It is not mandatory to bring anything to donate to the school and/or the children. However, anyone wishing to do so might consider bringing a few basic school supplies such as pencils and erasers, pens, colored markers, etc. to donate during the visit.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll board our bus for a field trip to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges in Fortuna de San Carlos. This private nature reserve features a network of standing bridges, hanging bridges, and trails that crisscross more than 600 acres (250 hectares) of tropical rainforest. The park’s mission is to provide natural history education in a responsible and sustainable way. We will view the rainforest from different angles and heights, from ground level to canopy level, learning firsthand about this fascinating and biologically diverse environment. We’ll then return to the hotel.
Lunch: At the hotel; coffee and water included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Mid-afternoon, we’ll board our bus and ride to a school for a charming dance presentation performed by local children. Next, we’ll drive to a nearby farm to learn about the history of the estate and the agricultural practices of this fertile region. We’ll also work-up an appetite while learning to make tortillas and cooking them on a traditional wood stove.
Dinner: At the farm, we’ll have a traditional meal hosted by the family.
Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: The drive to the Punta Leona/Pacific Coast is about 100 miles, approximately 4 to 4.5 hours including stops. Boat ride on Tarcoles River is tide dependent.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After check out, we’ll begin our transfer to Punta Leona, 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. Punta Leona is just a short distance from the important Carara National Park.
Lunch: At a restaurant en route.
Afternoon: En route to our hotel, we’ll stop for a crocodile safari boat ride on the Tarcoles River. As we navigate up the river, a local expert will provide background information on the resident crocodiles. 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 series and specials. After arriving at Punta Leona, we’ll check in and settle into our rooms. Then we’ll join our Group Leader for an introduction to the hotel, followed by a presentation by a local expert on the conservation and development in the Central Pacific Region.
Dinner: At the hotel, we’ve have a buffet meal including coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Get a good night’s rest in preparation for early morning activities tomorrow.
Activity note: Early morning (pre-breakfast) birding walk; paved lodge paths, flat trails. Wear comfortable clothes, walking shoes, insect repellent; binoculars recommended. At Carara, walking on undulating, paved park trails; wear closed toed shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
Breakfast: At the hotel after returning from our birding walk, we’ll have a buffet meal with juice, coffee, water included.
Morning: We’ll take our bus to nearby Carara National Park where we’ll take a walking field trip on park trails with our Group Leader to learn about the flora and fauna of this unique transition zone trails. 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 sizable population of endangered Scarlet Macaws. If we’re lucky, we might see some of these birds that mate for life. We’ll return to the hotel after our field trip.
Lunch: Hotel buffet.
Afternoon: Free time. You might like to go out independently to enjoy the beaches, the hotel amenities, or just relax.
Dinner: Hotel buffet.
Evening: After an overview of the activities for tomorrow, including check-out and transfer to San Gerardo de Dota, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.
Activity note: The drive to San Gerardo de Dota is about 131 miles, approximately 4.5 to 5 hours including stops. The drive will take us through the Cerro de la Muerte up to an elevation of 11,000 feet before descending to approximately 7,000 feet at San Gerardo de Dota.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll check-out of the hotel, board the bus, and begin our journey along the coast for about 2.5 hours to Hacienda Baru National Wildlife Reserve. At the reserve we’ll learn about local conservation efforts from a local expert during a walk on a short loop trail. We’ll also have a presentation on 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 coastal ridge.
Lunch: At a restaurant en route.
Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to San Gerardo de Dota in the scenic Talamanca Mountains and check in to the lodge upon arrival. After freshening up, we’ll go on an exploratory walk with our Group Leader around the cloud forest grounds of the hotel for an introductory look at this unique habitat and its characteristic flora and fauna.
Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: We’ll gather for a review of tomorrow’s activities including check-out and transfer. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.
Activity note: Early morning (pre-breakfast) birding walk; paved lodge paths, flat trails; wear comfortable clothes, walking shoes, insect repellent; binoculars recommended. Check-out before 12:00 Noon. The drive to San José is about 93 miles, approximately 2.5 to 3 hours.
Breakfast: At the lodge after returning from our birding walk, we’ll have a buffet breakfast with coffee and water included.
Morning: Next, we’ll join our Group Leader on a nature walk in the Savegre Forest, adjacent to Los Quetzales National Park. We will learn about the life history of the Resplendent Quetzal and get a more in depth look at the flora and fauna of the highland cloud forest. The quetzal, a colorful bird much revered by the Maya and Aztec, can be seen all year feeding on the many aguacatillo trees growing throughout Los Quetzales National and the Savegre Nature Reserve. The Chacon family was instrumental in turning the 12,000 acres of mist-covered forests, rivers, glacial lakes, and various ecosystems adjacent to their home into what is now the Los Quetzales National Park. We’ll have access to our rooms after the field trip to freshen up before we check out prior to lunch. Next at the lodge, we’ll meet the member of a local family who will present a firsthand account of 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 in the region and were the first to set out to conserve the magnificent high elevation and oak forests that covered the entire valley. The patriarch of the family 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.
Lunch: At the lodge.
Afternoon: We’ll say farewell to Savegre and begin our transfer to San José. Upon arrival we’ll check in with the remainder of the afternoon free to explore independently, relax, and freshen up before dinner.
Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.
Evening: At leisure. Enjoy our last evening together as a group in Costa Rica. Finish your packing and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Check-out 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. 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 today are on your own.
Breakfast: At the hotel depending on airport transfer and flight departure times. This concludes our program.
Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!
This should be a must tour visit for any traveler wanting to learn about countries in Central America. Friendly absolute helpful local people. Great food, and great road scholar staff and community. Rodney Benson, Flushing, NY.
I learned so much about Costa Rica. I didn't know much about it before, but have a new respect for all they are doing for ecology. The biodiversity of the rain forest was amazing and seeing it up close was fascinating. Our guide was very competent and ran everything smoothly.
The program was perfect in every way. Logistics were handled seamlessly and I felt safe and relaxed in the care of our group leader and our bus driver. Costa Rica delivered fascinating birds and wildlife continuously throughout the trip. Our leader was an excellent spotter and inclusive; he excelled in helping everyone in the group find the elusive creature darting amongst the leaves. We saw spider, howler, and capuchin monkeys, sloths, coatimundi, agouti, crocodiles, iguanas, morpho butterflies, 8 different types of herons, hummingbirds, numerous colorful songbirds, curassow, crested guans, toucans, trogons, parrots, parakeets, macaws, and many others. Many of the meals were traditional Costa Rican, with grilled meat or fish, beans, rice, salad, and good vegetable choices. Fresh fruit and juices were available at every meal—the pineapple was exquisite and even the bananas were special. Sharing the beauty and awe with like-minded people enhanced the experience. I wish everyone could do this trip!
This trip was a wonderful immersion into how Costa Rica developed from the results of volcanic eruptions along with plate shifts due to tectonic activity and becoming a land bridge that allowed both humans and animals to migrate between North and South America. We also were educated about the exploration by navigators from Europe and the riches of coffee, bananas and other minerals for trade, the stripping of the rain forests for use by cattle ranches and expansion of plantation farming and then the realization of the important purpose of what the rain forests offered. It was that discovery that has allowed the rain forest to return and what ecotourism and the biodiversity of Costa Rica makes it a unique and worthwhile place to visit.
This program is right for anyone who wants an exciting, educational and enjoyable experience. It is sooo much more than what is described in the brochure.
Wonderful experience! On the go and learning new and exciting things every day, rain or shine! Good food and the accommodations made you feel one with nature. Our group size was 17 and it was perfect and we enjoyed each other's company. Our guide Javier was fantastic and our driver Hector was a hoot! They really made us feel part of the Costa Rican culture.
This program is interactive. Some hiking...some bus riding...very welcoming for solo travelers. It's hot and super rainy. Not near as many bugs as I thought there would be. For sure a winner!!!
We had such a great time on this adventure. The Road Scholar tour leader was exceptional and the locations chosen were fascinating and were made easily accessible to our group. Terrific value for the money!
I highly recommend this trip. I learned a lot and met great people. Pedro was the tour guide and did an awesome job
This is the most fabulous trip. Lots of activity, just enough downtime...beach, ahhh!! lovely! The guides were superb! Pedro B. is passionate about his country and what a wealth of knowledge, birds, wildlife, plant-life, he knew a lot about everything. The food just could not have been any better. Healthy foods rule in Costa Rica, lots of beautiful fruit, and seafood galore! The green turtles in September were 'out' on our night walk, at least 5 of them, huge...be careful on the beach, mud and holes to stumble into...bring your sticks, worth the tricky walk to see five foot long/four wide sea turtles laying 150 eggs. Just awe inspiring, and the monkeys, oh my...mama's crossing over the river making a bridge in the branches across the river for baby to cross. And crocs, yes crocs in the river. You will not be sorry you went on this trip. Hiked about 4 miles several days, great exercise, some exertion, but lots of help from the guides for those who need it. 2nd Road Scholar trip and will do more based on this one.
This was a fantastic tour! Top-notch all the way around. It really exceeded my expectations.
I had a fabulous time on this trip. Costa Rica is a beautiful country rich in wildlife. The people are warm and friendly.
This is a trip for the nature lovers and people who love to hike through the woods. We saw gorgeous flowers and beautiful animals and birds not seen at home. The trails were not hard to walk on and some of the safaris were by boat.
I consider this to have been the 'trip of a lifetime' and I am thankful that Road Scholar made this possible for me.
Dear Road Scholar, My wife and I each separately reviewed our trip soon after returning. However, looking at your listed reviews today (5 months after our trip), I am puzzled and surprised not to see our reviews, or any reviews from anyone from our Group's trip. How do you explain that? Marc, Program 11586 (2-26-2018)
What a wonderful trip. I was pleased to have been able to share it with my wife and all the new friends who joined us on this tour.
Think you know Costa Rica? Challenge that with "The Best of Costa Rica"! You will learn "ins and outs" of its history, development, and its future in ecotourism. The rest of the world can learn from Costa Rica's resolve to retain and share its valuable and unique flora and fauna. I certainly did!
Amazing experience at a reasonable price!
The entire experience was amazing! Our guide Roger was knowledgable and could sight things great and small. There were times he pointed something out and it still took us time to see it! If we had attempted to do this trip on our own, we would never have learned or seen the things we did.
This tour will take you to five exotic and beautiful areas of Costa Rica. The food is fresh and fabulous. There are daily opportunities to photograph unusual birds and animals.
The Road Scholar Costa Rica experience was so wonderful and rich in experiences and information. The guide, Roger, the driver, the program content, the lodging and food were all exceptional. If you like diversity, wildlife, flora, geology, culture and a rich experience with residents of this small and wonderful country there is not a better trip you could take.
Everything about this trip was 5 star from the accomadations to the food to the outings and the environmental. Without a doubt the guide was the best, he made the trip memorable by sharing what he knew regarding each area. From beginning to end the trip more than met my expectations. Photo opps were omptimal to say the least.
This trip exceeded my expectations. We had a very congenial group of 16, which is about the right size. Our tour leader, Roger Melendez was outstanding. He is a great naturalist and a very nice person to travel with. His encyclopedic knowledge of the flora and fauna was amazing and he has the sharp eyes and knowledge of animal behavior that make it possible for everyone to enjoy the experience. Our driver, Alvaro Montero was great. He took our bus down some roads that I would hesitate traveling in my car, and he and Roger diagnosed the a problem with the AC and fixed it. We stayed in first-rate lodges and resorts. The food was good, but not exceptional. (Lots of rice and beans every day, but that's the diet in Costa Rica, so it's part of the experience.) I enjoyed the wildlife viewing and absorbed just enough of the recent history of the country to prod me into doing more study of how they became the country we see today. I'm convinced that PURA VIDA is more than just a slogan. We traveled from Caribbean to Pacific, lowlands to 11000 ft. If there weren't so many places to go and so little time, I'd go back to see more of Costa Rica. Thanks for a wonderful experience.
This trip was superb! I encourage you to go if you want to experience the Costa Rican rain forest, see its animals, and learn about Costa Rica. Our guide, Cristian, was superb! It definitely is "Keep the Pace". We were on the go most days from 7 AM until 7 PM. There were some days where we had a few hours of free time in the afternoon. The accommodations are quite comfortable. In April it was hot and humid, but often cooled at night. Take comfortable clothes, walking shoes, bug spray, sun block, and binoculars. Definitely 5 Stars!
The program allows you to share your experience with others who have the same feelings about improving the earth.
This was my first Road Scholar trip and I loved every minute of it! It was extremely well organized...we did not have to worry about a thing. The speakers, the host, the driver every experience was well thought out, planned and executed with intelligence, love, kindness and grace. I could not have asked for a better experience.
WHOEVER PUT THE 16 TRAVELERS TOGETHER DID AN AWESOME JOB. THE MOST CONGENIAL GROUP I HAVE BEEN WITH.
What an outstanding trip! Excellent lectures by people who were passionate about the biodiversity, protecting and increasing their beautiful rain forests and wildlife. Even if you are not a birder, you will enjoy their beauty. This program has a good mix of wildlife, active outdoors with whitewater rafting and daily walks, tours of coffee, chocolate and hearts of palm growers, farming and a school visit. We visited 5 different environments during the two weeks. The food was healthy and tasty. Costa Rican food is not spicy. Our guide Roger Melendez was outstanding. His knowledge of bird and wildlife was excellent. Great spotting skills. He was patient and well-organized and i never felt hurried. Great trip with 16 congenial fellow travelers.
There should be an option on the post trip survey to save the draft and go back to review and edit.
This is an exceptional trip. Although a fair bit of driving is required, it allows you to visit 5 unique and distinct areas. Cristian our guide was an outstanding naturalist. This trip far exceeded any expectations I had. Loved it!!
This trip was our best ever! Excellent on all counts!!
I really enjoyed the diversity of this trip. It was amazing seeing monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, macaws, toucans, and many other creatures in their natural habitat. Our trip leader’s knowledge of these creatures and where to find them was most impressive. I also enjoyed visiting the chocolate, hearts of palm, and coffee plantations and listening to speakers talk about how they changed professions in order to help preserve the wildlife in Costa Rica.
Exceptional Program, Wonderful Fellow Travelers, Excellent Guide Pedro and Bus driver Marcos
This is a very interesting program, but it is fast paced and involves a lot of bus travel
If you are looking to be awed, this is your trip
This trip is a true “sampler” of the best of Costa Rica! Experienced so many new things, met great people, learned so much....and had great fun doing it! Nothing like waking at 5AM to howler monkeys! The biodiversity of this country is awe inspiring!
This was a great experience that I will always remember. A beautiful, lush country with an unimaginable diversity of landscape and wildlife. This is also a country that faves challenges. This program gave a thorough overview of these issues while providing a great experiential education. I would highly recommend this program to friends and family.
This program was terrific! The guide was excellent: very knowledgeable and fun. The lectures were interesting and informative, and the choices of places to see was perfect. I would highly recommend it.
The natural wonders of Costa Rica speak for themselves, this program allows you to find and experience many of them in a short period of time.
A wonderful way to see the rich wildlife and learn about the Costa Rican story of environmental stewardship. We learned so much and had a ball!
We really enjoyed this trip to Costa Rica. The diversity of locations and of experiences was great. Our guide, Javier, was excellent. We learned a lot about the country and had fun doing it.
The Best of CostaRica really lived up to it,s title. This is a fantastic program from sea to sea through lowland rainforest , transition forest and mountain rainforest , rich with exotic flora and fauna. Images that will linger in my brain forever.
This Costa Rica program was wonderful! The country's dedication to ecologically sustainable development was evident in every "Tico" we interacted with and should serve as a model for many other nations.
We just returned from "The Best of Costa Rica: Exploring Natural Wonders." It was an amazing trip. We learned so much about how truly diverse Costa Rica is biologically, geographically, culturally, and politically. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and made every day and every activity exceptional.
This was our first Road Scholar trip and it was excellent--very well designed. Although we spent a lot of time on the bus, we conversed with other participants, had frequent stops, and were able to see lots of different areas of the country with varying climate, flora, and fauna. Our leader was excellent, and speakers provided new insights with their lectures and stories. Food and accommodations were all superb in my opinion.
A most interesting and enjoyable program. Strongly recommended, especially with William Suarez as group leader.
Got a 404 error with one of the links in the email.... https://evaluations.roadscholar.org/account/prog_eval_request..asp?Id=1-F609X5 Second link was fine
This trip expanded my knowledge of the people, customs and development of Costa Rica. I learned so much and respect this lovely country and its goals to preserve its precious natural resources and to support its citizens.
most of the descriptions are accurate, but it might be nice to note that they vary depending on what time of year the tour takes place. We didn't tour a pineapple plantation - but did a Heart of Palms tour instead. You cover that pretty good in that some changes may be made. One typo I found on this page: https://www.roadscholar.org/find-an-adventure/11586/the-best-of-costa-rica-exploring-natural-wonders/itinerary/1 Day 3: Morning: We will to a local dock and ... missing a verb there.
Enjoyed the tour, especially the white water rafting. Heart of palm, and coffee plantations were very interesting, also. My only complaint was the last few days we traveled many hours over winding, steep, dangerous roads to get to the highlands. We only stayed there one night after all that traveling, and only went on two short hikes. However, our guide was phenomenal. He knew so much about the country, the wildlife and vegetation. Happy that we went on the tour.
Pedro Bosques as group leader was excellent. Small group size at 17, everyone very collegial. Tour is fairly quick paced. Lectures are excellent. Only negative was changing lodging every other day. Would be nice to have a 3 day stay in middle of the tour with some downtime to recharge your batteries.
This trip led us to five areas of Costa Rica where we looked at the natural world. Many of the lectures were above average. Except for one hotel, the accommodations ranged from very good to exceptional. Our tour guide was exceptional. I would attend this tour again.
Wonderful trip. Great overview of Costa Rica. Enjoyed the trips in to the rain forest and the interaction with guide and cultural activities.
The trip was wonderful and covered an incredible amount of the country. The lecturers were excellent. A suggestion would be to have a lecture before the trip of the day to get better insight into the area. Also, even though the group was small, we couldn't always see the birds the lecturer was pointing out if we were in the back of the line. They should use better signals such as bird at 12oclock etc. rather than saying"over here." The first hotel we stayed at didn't have grab bars in the bathroom and very slippery mats. I had an accident the first night and hit my head badly getting out of the shower. All bathrooms should have had these bars. The food was amazing except for the last night at the Wyndham. It was very disappointing and not festive for the last night. The bus driver was courteous,friendly and extremely careful on the hairpin and bumpy roads. Our guide Pedro was so wonderful nothing could have been better for us. The places we stayed at, especially the lodges were excellent. I realizes because of the many places we visited there wasn't much time to "relax" in the beautiful surroundings. Another night would be better than two nights because the first night was only to sleep getting into the places late, so either extend the program or eliminate some of the traveling which was very far between places.
The rainforest is a great teacher; birders will be delighted; history buffs will come away better informed about a world outside of the United states
I would very much encourage others who are interested in Costa Rica to take this trip. It is so rewarding and gives one a good understanding and respect for Costa Rica and its people. I heartily recommend the program.
This trip is so diverse, seeing a lot of Costa Rica. You will see so many birds and other wildlife. This was one of my favorite trips ever.
This is the program for you if you value activity, active learning and experiencing a country which is demonstrating how ecology and living in harmony with nature can increase human enjoyment as well as create economic value.
This was a fun and very educational program. I would rate it as one of my favorites! I was so impressed with our tour guide, William, a native Costa Rican, and how very well the program was organized. We moved thru all the ecological zones of the country in an organized fashion and always had a lecture first before we physically explored the area. I highly recommend this program!
One of the most interesting trips I have ever taken...You will learn so much about nature and the amazing biodiversity of plant and animal life in this country. It is a small country but packed with coastal areas, mountains, volcanoes, and a central valley. And you will see some of all of these areas on this tour.
Unless you are an avid birder or like to see animals in the wild and at a distance, think twice about this trip. Activities include an optional bird walk and a rainforest walk every day. The different types of rainforests are not different to the untrained eye. Bad weather (ie rain) can obscure the mountains and views. The other activities and steam table food did not make up for my lack of intense interest in birds and the rain meant I was almost always wet. Look for another trip if you want warmth and sun.
Loved the Costa Rica Road Scholar trip and will be traveling with them again.
The Best of Costa Rica Natural Wonders is a fantastic tour. A perfect combination of learning and activities. Our guide was the best - so knowledgeable about his country!
Really enjoyed Costa Rica with our guide Cristian. Our primary interest was birding and it did not disappoint. The people in our group, our instructors, hotel staff were all lovely; genuinely friendly and welcoming. Watching kindergarteners 'graduate' was precious.
"Pura vida"--catch it!
This program is very "nature" oriented. If you love birding and seeing mammals, reptiles and birds in their natural habitat, then this trip is for you. The hotels in the nature reserves added a special event - being awakened by Howler Monkeys and having White Faced Monkeys watch you eat breakfast. The rain becomes part of the experience and did not impact the trip at all.
The Best of Costa Rica: Exploring Natural Wonders was the very best Road Scholar trip I have experienced. Lead by a skilled, highly effective guide experienced nature at its best, most interesting, see animals unique to that region, including sighting the very rare sighting of a jaguar. I was active every day. Well fed. Tried each night and eager for more each morning. Great adventure! Thank you Road Scholar and Holbrook Travel.
Excellent leadership and an exciting adventure with wonderful people! Exceeded all expectations! The speakers contributed to the program theme and the accommodations were outstanding! Thank you Edwin Ramirez for your knowledge, patience and leading us to the best discoveries! Pura Vida!
Costa Rica natural wonders is an exceptional program showing the broad biodiversity across the country. Extremely informative and engaging for all. Our guide was exceptional in every way making for the most enjoyable experience ever.
We wanted to experience the flora and fauna of Costa Rica's rain forest. We got to see lot's of bird varieties and animals. We stayed several nights in "eco hotels" that had no AC, but the nights were cool and we could hear the birds and monkeys through the open windows.
This program is excellent. You are given information about the history and culture along with flora and fauna.
I was able to cover much of the country of Costa Rica in 12 days! Saw amazing wildlife and nature every single day, let by an amazing guide!
This program gives a very thorough understanding of different of many diverse areas of Costa Rica and it's biology and history.
This was an excellent trip to Costa Rica. It is great for seeing nature, learning about Costa Rica, seeing all the different areas. The lodges are all wonderful places to stay at. Our tour guide, Javier, was an excellent leader, very knowledgeable, kind and caring.
We could not have been more pleased with our Road Scholar trip to Costa Rica! The gorgeous landscape, wildlife, and lovely Costa Rican people were a delight at every turn. Our guide, Edwin Ramirez, and guide-in-training Wendy made our experience remarkable. Their expertise, warmth, and professionalism are to be commended! Even our bus driver, Alvaro, was superb! We highly recommend this program!
I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in Costa Rica. It is a beautiful county that strives to have a better "carbon footprint" in the next few years.
A wonderful experience! Great leadership and wonderful accommodations.
The Costa Rica Natural Wonders Program was a very enjoyable learning experience and a fun vacation. Not only did I learn a tremendous amount about the ecology and wildlife of this beautiful Central American country, I made new friends. I am blown away by the knowledge, sense of humor and warmth of our guide. Our van driver was also very knowledgable and extremely courteous and helpful. If you want to see alot and learn alot in a beautiful, warm, welcoming place I highly recommend this trip!
This program offers a wide variety of experiences and exposure to many parts of the country. Although there are many miles covered by bus, rest stops are well planned and additional commentary by the guide adds interest. If you are interested in nature (plants, animals and birds) this is the trip to take. Walking trips were nicely paced with much stopping to look (and learn). I rate this as one of my all time favorite trips.
The trip was outstanding. We saw so many more turtles, plants, animals and birds than I would have expected. Edwin was an excellent and knowledgeable guide, and Hector, our bus driver, was very helpful. It rained but it didn't bother us. Great Trip
We had a FABULOUS 12 day trip to Costa Rica with Road Scholar. We saw so much Magnificent Rainforest, lots of monkeys PLUS much more. Our first major stop Tortuguera was my favorite. – This is one of the few places in the world where the green sea turtles go to lay their eggs. We were there at the right time of year, and actually saw a female turtle lay her eggs (80-100) and cover them with sand from the beach. Afterwards they return to the sea. The eggs are left to hatch into turtles, and return to the sea (if lucky). We adopted a turtle - her name is Bobbi. In Tortugueroa- we didn't need an alarm clock - the Howler monkeys let you know the sun has risen. Other highlights of the trip included the cloud forest, Arenal Volcano, a crocodile and bird excursion, river rafting, and more. Our fellow travels were all very friendly and our group leader did an excellent job of meeting the diverse needs of our group. Food, accommodations, travel vehicles, places seen and educational component were all great. We highly recommend visiting Costa Rica. Over 25% of the country has been set aside to retain its natural state. For more details call Road Scholar, and then book yourself a trip of a lifetime. Costa Rica with Road Scholar was such an enlightening and invigorating; we can’t wait to book another trip with Road Scholar.
Perfect for a first time visit to Costa Rica. You see a lot of the country in a short time. If there is a place you really like, you can return when you make your second visit.
This program really does include the best of Costa Rica--from the two sea shores to the mountains and everything in-between. It is an active program with not an abundance of free time and lots of time for interacting with the people of Costa Rica at the sites we visited.
What a great adventure! I was amazed and awestruck at the variety of flora and fauna the group saw. I was overwhelmed daily with a sense of gratitude at being able to discover and experience this beautiful part of the world.
My email is not letting me answer your questionnaire. This was my first Road Scholar trip and I could not have asked for a better trip!The guide, Cristian Gamboa, was outstanding! He was very knowledgeable about the flora & fauna as well as many other things(about Costa Rica) which we asked him. His English was excellent. The group was very compatible & curious about everything. We had fun! Even the bus driver, Frank, would point things out to us. Sometimes we stopped if something interesting was occurring. The variety of places we visited were diverse & varied as were the accomodations. My travels went smoothly,also. I have a small criticism: the National Geographic map & the travel guide were useless & expensive. The folder we were given on site had a good map which Cristian marked for any of us who wanted it.
Wonderful tour- amazing birds, animals, fauna, new friends, and the most outstanding guides every- our walking encyclopedia- here's to you Wendy and Pedro! http://wwatling.zenfolio.com/p188610176
I have guided many tours myself and was very impressed with every aspect of our Costa Rica experience. I plan to participate many more times with Road Scholar.
My first Road Scholar trip surpassed all expectations. Awesome would be an understatement. Our tour guide Christian could not have done a better job. I'm sold on Costa Rica and Road Scholar. Can't wait to book my next trip which will be this year too.
I loved the combination of actual experiences with informative guided walks and lectures. We experienced the incredible diversity of climate zones, vegetation, plants, animals, birds, and butterflies in such a tiny country. Our guide was knowledgable and personable and the other people on the tour were friendly and interesting. It was an unforgettalbe experience!
The itinerary has been very well developed. The focus is on biodiversity so our visits have been to organic growers (coffee, pineapple, and a general farm). We’ve had lectures by experts along the way and they’ve given us backgrounds on how Costa Rica is developing their national parks to enhance the various wildlife ‘corridors’ to preserve the wildlife. We had stops that start on the eastern side of the country and traverse all the way to the Pacific side. The daily pace of the tour is jam packed…which I love. We get to see alot and each stop has been carefully thought out to offer us a key element in the various biological areas in Costa Rica. The daily pace is also well thought out. We often started the day with an optional 6am bird walk .. usually just around the hotels. We then would have breakfast at 7 then we leave for the morning activity at 8am. The bus rides were fine. The bus was comfortable although the leg room was limited for my 6 ft. 3 in husband who was really only comfortable in the very back seats .. which wasn’t a problem. What made the trip AMAZING were the leaders. The main lead, Pedro was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife and is amazingly good at spotting the wild life (try finding a 2 inch green-black frog in a rainforest at night). He was kind, efficient, knowledgeable, had a great scope that brought monkeys, birds, etc very close. He was also patient. When you are leading twenty ‘older’ people around for 2 weeks, patience is an absolute requirement. He handled everything with patience and respect. These issues ran the gamut of keys locked in rooms, malfunctioning room safes, straggling guests, guests who got irritated due to fatigue, medical issues, etc. There was a second leader, Wendy, who is also very well versed in the area and the wildlife. She was in training for her own stint as a lead and I know she’ll be great! Words of caution..it was hot and humid. Be prepared for it - hat, water bottle, sun screen, dark glasses.
This was our fourth Road Scholar trip in Costa Rica. We have enjoyed them all. We have had new worthwhile learning experiences every time. The quality of guides, talks, drivers, fellow travelers, and accommodations remains consistently high.
This program was very informative and was a great overview of all different regions of Costa Rica from the Caribbean up over the continental divide and down to the Pacific. Our guide, Pedro, was extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of Cost Rica's natural world and was also just a delightful person. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to experience the natural world of Costa Rica up and close.
This trip was quite educational as well as fun. The accommodations exceeded my expectations and were quite satisfactory. The schedule is quite full, despite a lot of time on the bus, and took a little more energy than I expected. The guide, Chris, was simply outstanding.
This trip far exceeded my expectations. The activities were varied and the participants and tour guide were wonderful. Costa Rica is not to be missed. I never thought of myself as a bird watcher, but found myself gettting up early most mornings for the optional 6:00 am walks. This was my first bio-tourist experience and I loved every moment.
Excellent tour providing a great view of Cost Rican wildlife and culture.
Our leader (Cristian) was outstanding and the lecturers and on-site presentations were informative and enjoyable. A wonderful trip!
We chose the longest CR trip to see as much of the country as we could. Tortuguero and San Gerardo are both worth the effort it takes to get to these remote locations. We rate this Road Scholar trip an A+.
It would be difficult to pick just one or two items as to why I would recommend this trip. First of all, if you were only going to take one trip to Costa Rica, this tour seems to cover key sights and geography of Costa Rica. From the city of San Jose, to the coastal canals of Tortuguero, to the rain forests of the Arenal region, to the Pacific Beach coast and dry tropical forest of Punta Leona and finally into a mountain valley at San Gerardo de Dota, one leaves Costa Rica with a full picture of the country. Secondly, the quality of our guide, highly knowledgeable, caring and he had a great personality. Thirdly, the trip had nice hotels and great food. And finally, the tour consisted of a fantastic group of fellow travelers to share the adventure.
The "Best of Costa Rica" tour was extraordinarily well planned and well executed. Our guide was exceptionally well prepared and very helpful and considerate. The variety of landscapes and wildlife experienced far exceeded my expectations and the tour physically challenged this too-sedentary 78 year old by just the right amount. Highly recommended!
We thoroughly enjoyed our recent trip to Costa Rica. Our leader, Pedro, was excellent and knowledgeable about the country and natural wonders and wildlife! I highly recommend the trip.
Costa Rica has been on my "to visit" list for a long time. I wanted a guided introduction to the amazing diversity of the country and I got that and so much more through this trip. I have a long list of new birds and animals and insects seen. Our leader was very skilled in orienting us to the different life zones and webs of interactions. I can hardly wait to go back and focus on some of my favorite regions.
A super experience. Highly recommend using Road Scholar for future trips. They cover everything, are well organized and thorough. Can't wait to go with them someplace else.
I loved the Costa Rica trip that my husband and took. It could not have been better.
I would highly recommend this trip to Costa Rica. You will get a good perspective of the country and visit a variety of places rich in biodiversity and natural wonder.
If you're on the fence deciding what program to choose, you have arrived. The education, inspiration, and fun you'll have is priceless and the accommodations superb. Worth every penny and SO much more!
This program is for those who want to learn about the creation of the isthmus of Panama and how the bio-diversity of the area affects us all. The flora and fauna of Costa Rica are unequalled anywhere in the world for the amount of land mass encompassed
Tomas was an outstanding guide. He is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He made it both educational and enjoyable!
Costa Rica is a wonderfully hospitable nation with amazing biodiversity. The fact that they stress sustainability and eco-tourism is a definite plus!
We had visited Costa Rica before (on our own at a resort) but had seen very little of the country. With this tour we were able to visit many places and a variety of different locations in Costa Rica. From the Alantic Ocean, rivers, mountains (above 10,000 feet), different types of rain forests to transitional forest areas, the Pacific Ocean, many bird species, three species of Monkey. Saw different species of reptiles. If you like nature this is the tour for you. Overall this was one of our best trips ever. We were not ready to come home!
A wonderful experience! Costa Rica is a beautiful country.
An excellent tour with plenty of chances to see amazing wildlife and better understand ecosystems and their importance.
I would recommend this vacation/experience for anyone! The program is well planned. We learned a lot, met new friends, have a great time, and all enjoyed ourselves.
Loved the trip! I would recommend this vacation for anyone!
This trip is a great way to get a quick look at the biodiversity of this beautiful country. The trip also includes a great overview of the country as a whole.