Activity note: The transfer from Liberia's international airport to the hotel in Rincon de la Vieja takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Unforeseen traffic and road conditions could affect the driving time. A final portion of the journey includes travel over a well-maintained gravel road.
Lunch: At a local restaurant in Liberia.
Afternoon: Depart for Rincon de la Vieja and check in at hotel. 4:30 pm - Program orientation at the hotel. Our aim during this program will be to steadily work our way up to 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) per day as we learn healthy habits that will benefit us well after we return home. First Walk (2,000 steps): We'll join our Group Leader in a tropical rooting exercise using the controlled breathing and slow movements of Qigong (Chi Kung) to prepare us for our first walking activity on this program. Rooting is a process of obtaining balance by grounding the body so that the various movements can be executed correctly. Next, we will accompany our Group Leader in an exploratory walk on forest trails in hotel environs. Qigong (pronounced "chee-gong") is an ancient Chinese practice that combines stretching with breathing and relaxation techniques to promote overall physical and mental health. Different branches of Qigong have evolved over hundreds of years; some lean towards traditional Chinese medicine principles, using a slow and gentle workout as a healing tool; others are more physically demanding and dynamic, geared to perfecting martial arts skills and building muscle strength; while meditation Qigong incorporates relaxation techniques such as visualization and breathing patterns to help integrate body and mind. In Qigong—much like with yoga, tai chi and other popular Eastern disciplines—it is not necessary to adhere to the more spiritual aspects in order to enjoy the rewards. Growing medical evidence shows that this low impact style of exercise offers health benefits such as improved balance, flexibility, and cardiopulmonary function. Since Qigong instructors can adapt the level of difficulty and movement styles to suit student needs and abilities, this is a form of exercise that can generally be learned and enjoyed by all.
Dinner: At the hotel restaurant with water and coffee; other beverages available for purchase. During our meal, we’ll enjoy a “table talk” with our Group Leader that will introduce us to the origins, philosophy and practice of Qigong.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Our morning walk will cover a distance of approximately 2 miles and includes a segment with a small slope. Lunch at the thermal pool complex will be a casual and relaxed experience. Bathing suits and shorts are allowed in the dining area, though some people might feel more comfortable wearing a cover-up.
Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee, tea, water.
Morning: Before breakfast we will join our Group Leader in early morning stretching exercises that will focus on the element of fire—to wake up and energize our bodies in preparation for today’s activities. Cardiovascular health will be the focus of our session this morning. Following our exercises, we'll head to the restaurant for breakfast. After boarding our bus, we’ll take a short drive to the start of a local trail in preparation for this morning's walk. Second Walk (4,500 steps): Interpretive walk through a transitional forest with a local naturalist who will highlight interesting flora and fauna along the way. We'll walk along a mostly flat forest trail with slight undulations. Return to the hotel.
Lunch: At the hotel's freshwater and thermal pool complex. Water and coffee included; additional beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll visit the hotel’s hot pools to listen to a presentation on the healthful properties of volcanic mud and thermal waters and sauna. Third Walk (1,500 steps): Our Group Leader will take us on a walk along gently undulating trails to experience the magnificence of a Pacific sunset from a mirador (lookout point). Under the tutelage of our expert leader, we will pair up and take turns giving each other gentle back massages to help reduce muscle tightness and inflammation and to improve circulation. Time for refreshments and reflection. Return to the hotel.
Dinner: At the hotel.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: The moderately challenging walk to the waterfalls covers approximately 3 miles. Participants should wear closed-toe hiking footwear, with lug soles, as the trail is rugged and on an incline. Rain may cause trails to become muddy--increasing the hike's level of difficulty. Trekking poles are strongly recommended. Participants interested in enjoying spa treatments at the hotel during free time should make advance appointments. Spa services are at an additional cost.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Early morning stretching exercises at the hotel. Our Group Leader will coach us through various breathing exercises and movements focused on the “water element.” These exercises are believed to improve kidney and bladder function and promote overall health. After our session we will head to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Fourth Walk (6,500 - 7,000 steps): We’ll accompany our Group Leader on a scenic hike along an uphill forest trail to reach two local waterfalls. The rugged terrain and uphill sections should give us a nice work out. As we sweat negative emotions and thoughts away, we’ll allow endorphins and feelings of accomplishment to take their place. Our leader will take the opportunity to explain about the effects of negative ions on our bodies while we take a short break at the waterfalls (a great source of negative ions!) before we hike back to the hotel. Participants wishing to skip this activity are welcome to remain at the hotel to enjoy a relaxing morning before rejoining the group for lunch. Return to the hotel.
Lunch: At the hotel.
Afternoon: Free time to enjoy independent explorations (at own expense). The hotel can assist in scheduling activities such as horseback riding, canopy zip line, forest exploration on ATVs or off road vehicles, and spa treatments. Before dinner, we’ll join our Group Leader at the hotel for a presentation on the secrets of leading long, plentiful lives.
Dinner: At the hotel.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: The drive to Rincon de la Vieja National Park is about 26 miles; approximately 1.5 hours. From the national park to Playa Pan de Azucar is approximately 53 miles; a little more than 2 hours by motorcoach. From Playa Pan de Azucar to the Flamingo area is approximately 7 miles. Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothes as well as sunscreen and insect repellent for the forest hike.
Breakfast: Early breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Check-out of the hotel. We’ll depart by motorcoach to Rincon de la Vieja National Park where we’ll enjoy a morning hike before transferring to Playa Pan de Azucar. Fifth Walk (5,000 steps): A local naturalist will lead us on an interpretive walk along park trails; teaching us about the plants and wildlife found in the dry forest. We will also take part in a short Zen walk, led by our Group Leader, to learn how to connect with nature and its forces. The Rincon de la Vieja National Park covers an area of approximately 34,800 acres (54 square miles) in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. The national park was established in 1973 in an effort to protect the local watershed, but the overall benefits were much larger as it also helped to preserve an important range of habitats and wildlife. Elevations range from under 2,000 feet to upwards of 6,300 feet at Santa Maria Volcano—Rincon de la Vieja Volcano’s dormant sibling. A well-marked system of trails allows visitors to experience the forests and volcanic features of the park including fumaroles, hot springs and thermal mud pools. This is one of the best places in the country to view the guaria morada orchid (Cattleya skinneri), Costa Rica’s national flower. The national park is part of the Guanacaste Conservation Area—a Unesco World Heritage site. Depart for Playa Pan de Azucar.
Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.
Afternoon: Arrive at Playa Pan de Azucar and check-in at hotel. Sixth Walk (1,500 steps): Stretch your legs during a short walk along the beautiful crescent beach in front of the hotel. We'll return to the hotel to change and freshen-up before our motorcoach takes us to a nearby beach town for dinner. Note: Anyone wishing to stay back at the hotel is welcome to do so and enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant (at own cost).
Dinner: On your own to explore dining opportunities in the Flamingo area. Transportation to a selection of restaurants will be provided for our convenience and the Group Leader will be available to offer suggestions. The laid back beach towns on Costa Rica's northern coast are a popular destination for beach goers, nature lovers, and surfers from around the globe.
Evening: After dinner, the motorcoach will take us back to the hotel at Playa Pan de Azucar. The rest of the evening will be at leisure.
Activity note: The beach walk will cover a distance of approximately 3 miles. Please remember to stay hydrated, wear lightweight/loose clothing, apply sunscreen, and wear a hat. Wear a bathing suit under your clothes in case you wish to take a swim at the beach after your morning walk.
Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee, tea, water.
Morning: The theme for today's early morning warm up is "air." Our Group Leader will coach us through yoga postures and breathing techniques meant to help strengthen our lung capacity and overall health. Following our session, we’ll head to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Our motorcoach will transport us to Brasilito Beach in preparation for today’s morning walk. Seventh Walk (6,000 steps): Our Group Leader will lead us on an energizing morning walk along the beach that will include an on-site talk about the human and natural history of the region. We’ll return to the hotel to change clothes and freshen up.
Lunch: At the hotel with water and coffee; additional beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Next, our motorcoach will take us to the Flamingo area for a boat ride along the coast with opportunities for snorkeling, culminating with a sundowner (celebrating the end of another day with a beverage) on the water. Return to the hotel.
Dinner: At the hotel with water and coffee; additional beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Lunch options and afternoon activities are at your own cost. Try to total at least 10,000 steps today! Prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow.
Breakfast: At your leisure at the hotel restaurant.
Morning: During this early morning Qigong session, our Group Leader will instruct us in performing “wood element” exercises believed to promote liver and gall bladder health. When done, we’ll head to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Our goal for this day is to total 10,000 steps. After breakfast we'll board the motorcoach and take a short drive to our hike location. Our Group Leader will lead us on a hike along a coastal trail that will include some uphill sections and irregular terrain. Return to the hotel.
Lunch: On your own to explore local fare.
Afternoon: Free time to enjoy a variety of optional activities (at your own cost) such as hiking on local trails, deep sea fishing excursions, surfing, sea kayaking, paddle boarding lessons, mountain biking on coastal trails, golfing at Playa Conchal, beach activities, and relaxing. Before dinner, we’ll join our Group Leader in a closing ceremony.
Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll celebrate the conclusion of our Costa Rican walk into wellness with a barbecue dinner and musical entertainment. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: At leisure. Enjoy your last night among new friends or get a good night’s rest in preparation for your international travel next day.
Activity note: The drive from Playa Pan de Azucar to the international airport in Liberia takes approximately 1.5 hours. Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.
Breakfast: At the hotel (dependent on flight times).
Morning: A Road Scholar group transfer will be provided to the international airport in Liberia so that we can check-in for our flights home. **Separate airport transfers can be arranged (at participant's own expense) for independent travelers who have earlier/later flight times that do not coordinate with the Road Scholar group transfer. Please contact the program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.** 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!