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Costa Rica

An Adventurous Exploration of Costa Rica for Women

Uncover authentic Costa Rica through cloud forest hikes, spectacular volcano vistas and interactions with local communities, all while forging new bonds with other adventurous women.
Program No. 23940RJ
9 days
Starts at
Costa Rica

An Adventurous Exploration of Costa Rica for Women

Uncover authentic Costa Rica through cloud forest hikes, spectacular volcano vistas and interactions with local communities, all while forging new bonds with other adventurous women.
9 days
Starts at
Program No. 23940 RJ
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At a Glance

Nature and wildlife abound though forest trees, cascading streams and volcano peaks while the warmth of community blossoms in the spirit of the people. As you enjoy the camaraderie of other empowered women, experience a harmonious blend of culture and adventure in serene and vibrant Costa Rica. Learn about the nation’s history, agriculture and ecosystems through expert-led explorations, hands-on experiences with locals and nature-filled excursions. Discover the inseparable bond between the people and the land as you build your own bonds with other outdoor-loving women during this multifaceted introduction to Costa Rica.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Enjoy the alluring wild of Costa Rica with a hike through the cloud forest at Monteverde, a rafting excursion in Sarapiqui and a hanging bridges walk with Arenal Volcano views.
  • Learn about local agriculture traditions, coffee production and regional flavors during plantation field trips, expert-led lectures and hands-on cooking lessons.
  • Discover the unique experience of a women-only adventure as you explore Costa Rica while enjoying the fellowship of encouraging Road Scholar women.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide
by Twan Leenders, Robert Dean, Jim Zook, Fiona Reid
This guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter. Each has exquisite full-color illustrations.
National Geographic Costa Rica
by Christopher P. Baker
This stylish and informative travel resource features 200 photographs, many maps and good information on the country's history, nature and culture.
The Birds of Costa Rica
by Richard Garrigues, Robert Dean (Illustrator)
This new edition covers 903 species of birds with hundreds of new, supplemental or revised color illustrations by Robert Dean and revised color-coded range maps.
Nature of the Rainforest, Costa Rica and Beyond
by Adrian Forsyth, E.O. Wilson (Introduction), Michael Fogden (Photographer)
Our favorite biologist-writer returns to the Neotropics in this beautifully illustrated, oversized overview of the rainforest. With chapters on Monteverde and Guanacaste, plants, frogs and snakes, birds, monkeys and jaguars, the sloth, peculiar insects and biodioversity; A marvelous, anecdotal introduction to ecology, evolution and conservation.
Costa Rican Spanish
by Lonely Planet
A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.
Culture Smart! Costa Rica
by Jane Koutnik
History, religion, daily life, food, health and safety are all covered in this accessible pocket guide to Costa Rican customs, etiquette and culture.
The World Atlas of Coffee, From Beans to Brewing
by James Hoffmann
A global history of the addictive brown bean organized by country, with a look at regional techniques and traits, fair trade efforts and the role of colonialism. Includes colorful maps and photos.
The Ticos
by Richard Biesanz
This insightful, fact-filled portrait of the Costa Rican people details their culture, history and society.
Aroma of the World: A Journey into the Mysteries and Delights of Coffee
by Santo Versace (Foreword), Elisabetta Illy
A beautiful book for the coffee lover, this heavily illustrated compendium is equal parts history and travel journal, detailing the passage of the coffee bean from origination to current status as an icon of modern living.
Costa Rican Wildlife
by Pocket Naturalist
Put it in your pocket! This handy, fold-up card includes color illustrations of dozens of typical birds, mammals and reptiles. We also carry plastic cards for Costa Rica Birds (Item CRC56) and Costa Rica Butterflies & Moths (Item CRC57), $5.95 each.
Tropical Nature
by Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
Two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists offer a lucid portrait of the tropics through 17 marvelous essays that introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforests.
Costa Rica Adventure Map
by National Geographic
A double-sided map at a scale of 1:500,000.
Costa Rica, A Journey Through Nature
by Adrian Hepworth
Dividing the book by ecosystem and geographic area, BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Hepworth's color photographs showcase the diversity of Costa Rica's wildlife and habitats.
Volcanoes, Crucibles of Change
by Richard Fisher
A complete primer for the volcano lover, this heavily illustrated book covers types of volcanoes and eruptions, worldwide distribution and the physics of their formation.
Costa Rica Birds
by James Kavanagh
A handy, laminated fold-up card with full-color illustrations of birds commonly found in Costa Rica. Great for kids, too.
Costa Rica, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Barbara Ras
These 26 well-chosen stories by Costa Rican writers introduce the people, culture and land.
Wild Costa Rica
by Adrian Hepworth
This beautiful, informative survey of the habitats, wildlife and protected areas of Costa Rica features 200 color photographs and chapters on natural history and conservation.
Costa Rica, The Complete Guide
by James Kaiser
From pristine beaches and jungle waterfalls to high-altitude coffee plantations, award-winning author and photographer Kaiser shows readers the best of Costa Rica, including the country's stunning collection of national parks.
Costa Rica Butterflies & Moths
by James Kavanagh
A handy, laminated fold-up card with color illustrations of Costa Rica’s more visible species of butterflies and moths. Includes the distinguishing markings or behaviors of each species.
Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics
by Steven Palmer (Editor), Ivan Molina (Editor)
A lively, literate sourcebook on the politics, economy and society of Costa Rica
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9 days
8 nights
23 meals
8 B 7 L 8 D
Arrive San José, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San José
Hotel Balmoral

Activity note: Participants must book flights that arrive into San José, Costa Rica no later than 4:30 p.m. on this day if they plan on attending the program orientation.

Afternoon: Orientation: 6:00 p.m. at the hotel. 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. We will do our best to accommodate special diets during the program, but please note we cannot guarantee that our vendors will be able to meet all requests. We also cannot prevent cross-contact. It will be up to your discretion to decide what food choices are appropriate based on your individual needs. If you have extreme dietary needs, please prepare to bring your own items. 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: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars. Prepare for hotel check-out and transfer in the morning.

Gold Museum, Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus with several steps. Walking at an easy pace; mostly flat terrain.The drive to Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowlands, is about 56 miles; approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel, with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We'll be joined by a local expert for an overview of Costa Rica presentation at the hotel. After check out procedures, we’ll depart for a field trip to the Gold Museum. This unique underground museum showcases an impressive collection of Pre-Columbian gold. The 2,000-piece collection weighs over 20,000 troy ounces making it one of the wealthiest spots in the nation. For the stamp collector, the complex also contains a philatelic museum, and coin collectors might be interested in the adjoining numismatic museum. Then we'll board the bus and begin our transfer to Sarapiqui, in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Sarapiqui. 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. Arriving at the lodge, we'll check-in with some time to freshen up before our next activity. Then we'll regroup for a presentation by a local expert on the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

Dinner: At the lodge with coffee, juice, and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Meet with new Road Scholar friends on the porch, enjoy a nightcap while relaxing to the sounds of the rainforest, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow's activities.

River Rafting, Cultural Interaction, Latin Dance
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: Early morning birding on mostly flat trails and lodge paths. River rafting involves an upper body workout and the likelihood of getting wet. Please wear a bathing suit and water shoes/sport sandals; apply sunscreen well before water activity.

Breakfast: At the lodge; buffet with coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We'll join our Group Leader for some early morning birding on and around lodge grounds. Then we'll walk back to the lodge restaurant for breakfast. Next, we'll board the bus and drive to a nearby drop-off site along the shores of the Sarapiqui in preparation for our river rafting field trip. A rafting expert will conduct a safety orientation and go over rafting procedures and equipment before giving us the go-ahead to don our gear and board the rafts. Although a rafting expert will sit at the back of each boat and navigate, we'll help by paddling at various stretches along the river. Once done, we'll ride back to the lodge to change into dry clothes.

Lunch: At the lodge with coffee, juice, and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll have some “down” time before our next activity. This is a good opportunity to enjoy a walk around the lodge grounds, cool off in the pool or perhaps practice your photography skills. Our next field trip will commence with a short walk to the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) for an overview of their mission. Then we'll ride a short distance into the Sarapiqui community. A local resident will invite us into her home and instruct us on how to prepare some typical Tico dishes.

Dinner: At the lodge with coffee, juice, and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Latin dance! We’ll have some lessons with local people to learn three styles of Latin dance: Merengue, Salsa, and Cumbia. The local dancers will demonstrate the different styles, then lead us through the dances step by step. Finally, we’ll have a chance to practice with a partner.

River Boat Nature Safari, Local Plantation
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Manoa Hotel

Activity note: The boat safari on the Sarapiqui River should last about 1 hour. Participants must descend/ascend approximately 3 flights of stairs, with a handrail, to get to and from the boat dock. The motorized river boat has a covered top and open sides for optimum wildlife viewing; no bathroom facilities onboard. Bus drive from Sarapiqui to Arenal is about 61 miles; approximately 2.5 - 3 hours with pit stops.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: After check out, we'll drive to the Puerto Viejo dock and board a river boat that will take us on a leisurely journey on the Sarapiqui River. The boat captain and our Group Leader will put their expert spotting skills to use by pointing out riverine wildlife along the way. Some of the animals we hope to see include caimans, turtles, iguanas, bats, monkeys, sloths, kingfishers, and Anhingas.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Before transferring to Arenal, we'll stop at a local plantation to examine some of the environmental and economic impacts of agriculture in Costa Rica. A farm representative will lead us through various sections of the plantation and instruct us on how the crops are grown and then processed for shipping. Next, we'll board our bus and begin the 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. Once at the hotel, we'll check in with some time to freshen up and relax. We'll reconvene before dinner to enjoy an expert-led presentation on the forces of nature and how they help shape life.

Dinner: At the hotel with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Time at leisure.

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Local School, Traditional Dinner
Arenal Volcano
Arenal Manoa Hotel

Activity note: Walking on forest trails and hanging bridges. Comfortable clothing, closed walking shoes, and a pair of binoculars are suggested for this activity. Although not required, participants oftentimes enjoy bringing colored pencils, pens, markers, children’s books (in Spanish) and other basic supplies to donate during the school visit.

Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: For our next field trip, we’ll drive to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges and explore some of its many trails and scenic bridges. The private nature reserve has more than 600 acres of tropical rainforest that can be explored through a network of trails, hanging bridges and standing bridges. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll board a bus and drive to a local elementary school where we'll enjoy a charming presentation by local children. Next, we’ll visit a local farm to learn about the history of the property and some of the agricultural traditions in this fertile region. Although tourism surpassed agriculture as the main source of revenue in the area, many local plantations still produce important amounts of papaya, sugar cane, tapioca and ornamental plants. At the farm, we’ll work-up an appetite while learning to make tortillas and cooking them on a traditional wood stove.

Dinner: At the farm, we’ll enjoy a traditional dinner 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.

Crossing Arenal Lake, Local Coffee Plantation
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Activity note: The boat ride across Arenal Lake is about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bus transfer to Monteverde is about 21 miles, approximately 1.5 – 2 hours; en route stops for lunch and field trip. The Road Scholar bus will travel separately with our luggage. Please pack any items you will need for this day in your daypack, since we won’t have access to our luggage until late afternoon at Monteverde.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out, we’ll drive to a local boat dock on the shores of Arenal Lake. A small, covered boat will ferry us across the scenic lake. Upon reaching the other shore, we'll board a bus and journey uphill along scenic back roads to Monteverde. We’ll then ride to a local coffee plantation.

Lunch: At the coffee plantation.

Afternoon: During our coffee farm field trip, we’ll learn about the harvesting and processing of coffee as well as the history of this crop from its beginning in the Arabic countries and Ethiopia. We’ll also gain insights into the importance of the golden bean — grano de oro — and its impact on Costa Rica’s social, cultural, and economic development. Arriving at the hotel, we’ll check-in with some time to freshen up and relax. There will be an opportunity to watch the sunset! We’ll regroup for a presentation by a local expert on conservation and development of the Monteverde Area.

Dinner: At the hotel with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Cloud Forest Reserve, Bat Jungle, The Quaker Story
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Activity note: Walking on forest trails and irregular terrain; potentially muddy conditions. Wear closed toe/heel walking shoes with lug soles and consider bringing a lightweight rain poncho.

Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee and water.

Morning: Our first field trip of the day is to a cloud forest reserve at Monteverde for an expert led exploration. While walking on forest trails, we’ll learn about the characteristics of a cloud forest and stop along the way to study its flora and fauna. The edges of this rich forest system, often cloaked in clouds and blowing mist, are home to more than 350 avian species and a myriad of other creatures and critters. The Monteverde area is perhaps most famous for breeding Resplendent Quetzals, Three-wattled Bellbirds, and Bare-necked Umbrellabirds. While these charismatic species can be elusive, a host of other cloud forest birds and amphibians are found in the area.

Lunch: At a local restaurant plus water.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll head to the Bat Jungle, an educational space designed and managed by noted U.S. bat biologist Dr. Richard LaVal. Informative displays help to explain about bat biology, bat diversity, and their crucial role in nature as pollinators. The Bat Jungle also has more than 90 bats, representing 8 different species, housed in a recreated nighttime cloud forest environment. Glass windows give visitors the rare opportunity to look inside the forest enclosure and observe bats feeding, flying, and socializing. Special microphones capture the high pitched bat vocalizations and broadcast them through loudspeakers in the bat viewing area. Next, we'll learn about the history of Monteverde's Quaker community during a home visit with a longtime resident. In 1951 a group of American Quakers, fearful of their nation’s growing militarism, fled the United States. The Quakers found Costa Rica, a country without a military, to be the most inviting option for their pacifist beliefs. This group settled Monteverde and intended to transform the area into profitable farmland. The Quakers developed a fairly successful cheese industry but they also recognized the delicate nature of the land and helped establish the area's first wildlife sanctuary.

Dinner: At a local home.

Evening: After driving back to the hotel, we'll have the rest of the evening at leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow.

Butterfly Garden, Farewell to Costa Rica
San José
Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center

Activity note: The transfer from Monteverde to San José is about 90 miles, approximately 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel with coffee and water.

Morning: We’ll take a field trip to the Monteverde Butterfly Garden and Arthropod Education Center. Jim Wolfe and his wife, Marta Iris, opened the Monteverde Butterfly Garden in 1989. The couple devoted themselves to hand-raising butterflies and gaining more knowledge of their preferences and habits. These fragile creatures require extreme care as they develop and grow. Every species feeds on a different variety of plants. Unlike most butterfly gardens, which buy their butterflies as chrysalids, all the butterflies you will see here were bred and raised on the premises. Though no longer managing the project, Jim and Marta's dream lives on in the hands of a new generation of dedicated naturalists. Begin transfer to San José.

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: Arriving in San José, we’ll check in to our hotel with time to freshen up and relax 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 in Costa Rica, then prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In Flight

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel (dependent on flight schedules). This concludes our program. 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!

Your Well-Being is Our #1 Priority

We’re committed to making your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.

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