3636
Costa Rica

From Monkeys to Macaws: Colorful Costa Rica With Your Grandchild

Fly a little south of the U.S. to discover a world of chatty macaws, playful monkeys, towering waterfalls and gentle sea turtles as you explore exciting Costa Rica with your grandchild.
Rating (5)
Program No. 3636RJ
Length
10 days
Starts at
2,449 / ADULT
1,999 / CHILD
Flights start at
475
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10 days
9 nights
26 meals
9 B 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrival, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San José
D
Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica

Activity note: Participants must arrive in San José, Costa Rica no later than 4:30 p.m. to attend program orientation. Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. The international airport is about 12 miles from downtown San José.

Afternoon: Orientation: 6:00 p.m. at the hotel. The Group Leaders 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. This program includes a number of bus transfers. The air conditioned Road Scholar bus does not have a bathroom on board. However, the program includes stops for program activities, meals, and/or basic pit stops that help to break up longer travel times. Stops are built into the schedule for every 1.5 - 2 hours of bus travel. This is a Road Scholar grandparent program. Adults are responsible for their minor children. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. 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 Leaders will be happy to offer suggestions. 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 include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase. 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, we’ll have a buffet welcome dinner with water and juice included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Transfer to Sarapiqui, SCLC
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: The drive from San José to Sarapiquí in the Caribbean lowlands is about 55 miles, approximately 3 hours; elevation in Sarapiquí is approximately 220 feet. Lodge check in from 3:00 p.m. Walking up to 3 miles, undulating terrain, hot/humid conditions. The Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) is located on the grounds of Selva Verde Lodge. Short walk on paved walkway, gradual incline.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: After breakfast, we will attend a lecture at the hotel given by a local expert on biodiversity in Costa Rica. We will then check out of the hotel, board our bus, and transfer via Varablanca to Sarapiquí. On the way we’ll make a stop at La Paz Waterfall Gardens. La Paz Waterfall Gardens is an ecological park located near the Poás Volcano, in a verdant, misty area where cloud and rain forests meet. The park has five beautiful waterfalls that can be admired from various view points through a network of stairways and viewing platforms. Other attractions include a serpentarium, hummingbird garden, frog exhibit, walking trails, and one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world. A walk inside the over sized butterfly observatory reveals a large flowering garden with thousands of fluttering butterflies belonging to more than 25 different species. Some resident favorites include the Blue Morpho, Monarch, Blue-banded Purplewing, Salome Yellow, and Banded Orange. The hummingbird garden attracts as many as 26 different hummingbird species from around Costa Rica; visitors can view these colorful birds just inches away while they buzz among the tropical plants and feeders.

Lunch: At La Paz Waterfall Gardens, buffet lunch plus juice, coffee and water.

Afternoon: Upon our arrival at the lodge, we’ll check-in and get our room assignments. Next, we’ll walk a short distance to the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC) in preparation for a cooking class by a member of the local community. We’ll have the opportunity to try our hands at making some traditional Costa Rican snacks. The Center is a registered non-profit organization devoted to linking communities and conservation through education and ecotourism in the Sarapiqui region.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, juice, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
River Rafting, Chocolate Farm Visit
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: There will be a leisurely early morning birding walk around the lodge’s grounds led by our Group Leaders before breakfast. Getting on/off rafts; assistance provided as needed. Rafting 2-3 miles on Class I and II whitewater rapids (descriptions below); speed and distance of trip dependent on volume of river. Sturdy water shoes required; no flip-flops. Walking about 1 mile at the chocolate farm. Driving approx. 23 miles total; about 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: We will board our bus and transfer to the nearby Sarapiqui River to meet the local experts who will lead a safety briefing in preparation for our whitewater rafting field trip. The Sarapiquí River winds through a region of Costa Rica called the “Eternal Spring” due to its ever present thick, verdant flora and abundant corresponding fauna. The source is in the mountains and flows down through the rainforest before joining the main body of the river. We’ll then climb aboard the rafts and experience moderate rapids alternating with calm stretches of river, making this an ideal waterway for whitewater novices. We’ll also have a stop along the way to stretch our legs. Whitewater rapids are classified by level of difficulty. Class I: Moving water with a few riffles and small waves; few or no obstructions. Class II: Easy rapids with smaller waves, clear channels that are obvious without scouting; some maneuvering required. Please note that this classification system is only a guide; degrees of difficulty vary based on local conditions including water levels. We’ll then return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge, our lunch buffet has coffee, juice, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Transferring from the lodge, we’ll go to a local farm to learn about where chocolate comes from and how it is processed to turn it into the treat we all know and enjoy. During the field trip, a local expert will provide us with expert commentary on the traditional methods by which the cacao fruit is grown and harvested then processed to become chocolate. There will also be opportunities to taste different kinds of chocolate! We’ll then return to the lodge where the rest of the afternoon will be free.

Dinner: Lodge buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Boat Ride on Sarapiqui River, Ethnobotanical Garden Visit
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: Some walking on irregular paths, ascending/descending steps with handrails and getting in and out of a boat. Boat has a top and open sides for wildlife viewing; no bathroom facilities. Boat ride lasts about 1 hour. The drive from the hotel to Puerto Viejo is about 9 miles, less than a 1/2 hour

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: Morning nature boat ride on the Sarapiqui River, followed by time spent in the river frontier town of Puerto Viejo. During the boat ride, our Group Leader will introduce us to the birds and animals that frequent the riverine vegetation, including caimans and a variety of water birds. We'll also take this opportunity to observe land utilization along the river banks and consider the human impact on the ecology of the river system. Disembark in Puerto Viejo and ride by bus to a local restaurant.

Lunch: At a local restaurant we’ll have a meal with coffee, juice, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Back at the lodge we will have some free time to rest and freshen up before our next activity. Later in the afternoon we will board our bus and drive to the ethnobotanical garden where we will meet an expert who studies the relationship between humans and plants. Here we will learn about the local flora used for practical purposes in daily life, such as in medicine, food and clothing.

Dinner: At the lodge, we’ll have a buffet dinner with standard beverages; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Transfer to Arenal, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges
Arenal
B,L,D
Arenal Manoa Hotel

Activity note: Driving approx. 72 miles; about 4 hours. Walking about 2 miles, approx. 1.5 hours; forest trails and hanging bridges. Comfortable clothing, closed toe walking shoes, and a pair of binoculars are suggested for the hanging bridges activity.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with coffee, tea, juice and water included.

Morning: After checking out of the lodge, we’ll board our bus and transfer to the Rio Cuarto region to view semi-wild Macaws. The bus transfer presents an excellent time to practice your Spanish informally with the Group Leaders and others. Our first stop will be to a local family-owned farm that semi-wild Great Green Macaws and Scarlet Macaws like to frequent. These colorful and vocal birds can usually be spotted perched on surrounding trees or flying about the farm. During our visit our Group Leaders will introduce the group to the concept of a “biological corridor” and we will learn how this farm plays a role in that concept. We’ll then travel to La Fortuna town for lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route, we’ll have plated meals ordered from a select menu, plus juice and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will take a field trip with our Group Leaders to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges. During our visit, we will traverse a combination of nature trails and hanging bridges through the rainforest canopy. Upon arrival, we’ll go on an interpretative walk in the rainforest canopy for an opportunity to obtain a perspective that is usually reserved to monkeys and birds only! The Hanging Bridges project consists of a system of trails covering a distance of about 2 miles with 8 fixed bridges and 6 hanging bridges, all built with the latest techniques and designed with an eye for both beauty and safety. The entire project was designed to blend with the natural environment, leaving the forest virtually intact. The idea of the operation is to facilitate access, with the minimum possible impact, to one of the least explored parts of the rainforest: the canopy. We’ll then go to the hotel, check in and enjoy dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, juice, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Ziplining Activities, Free Time
Arenal
B,L,D
Arenal Manoa Hotel

Activity note: There will be a leisurely early morning birding walk around the lodge’s grounds led by our Group Leaders before breakfast. Driving about 8 miles to ziplining facility; approx. 1/2 hour. Minimum height required for this activity is 3 feet 11 inches. Minimal climbing required for ziplining; getting in/out of open air gondola; height of platforms varies – highest is 656 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes coffee, tea, juice and water.

Morning: Get ready for our exciting canopy zip-lining adventure! We’ll ride by bus from the hotel to an establishment just outside of the Arenal Volcano National Park to begin our adventure. Thrill-seekers come here to enjoy the adventure of whizzing through the forest canopy on zip lines while nature lovers rejoice in the sights and sounds of the forest. The experience begins with a leisurely open-air gondola ride up the mountain followed by a safety lesson. Then, we will experience a heart-pumping descent via a network of zip lines and platforms before returning to the grounds via the open-air gondola. At the end of the activity, we will enjoy beautiful views of Arenal Volcano National Park while learning from local experts and our Group Leaders about the unique flora and fauna of the adjacent park's transitional forest.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon will be Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leaders will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to enjoy the pools, or just relax at the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, juice, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
School & Family Farm Visit, Evening with Bats
Arenal
B,L,D
Arenal Manoa Hotel

Activity note: 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: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes coffee, tea, juice and water.

Morning: We'll travel to a local school for a chance to learn a bit about the educational system in Costa Rica and to interact with local kids. During our time at the school, we might engage in sports or games with the children and attend a folkloric dance presentation performed by some of the children. Then, we'll head to a nearby farm to meet a member of the family and learn about the history of the estate and some of the agricultural practices in this fertile region. Before lunch, wake-up your inner chef (and your appetite!) by joining in a tortilla making activity. Learn how to make fresh tortillas and cook them on a wood stove.

Lunch: Traditional meal at the farm.

Afternoon: At the farm's sugar cane mill, we will learn about the traditional methods of sugar cane processing. After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon will be Free Time.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy an up-close and educational evening with bats. We’ll depart to a nearby location by bus where a local expert will teach us about the history and characteristics of bats. At the end of the presentation, we will have the chance to observe some bats up close that were captured by researchers to study. We’ll then return to the lodge. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
Transfer to Central Pacific Area, Crocodile Safari
Punta Leona
B,L,D
Hotel Punta Leona

Activity note: Driving about 110 miles, approx. 4.5 hours. Getting in/out of boat; ride is approximately 2 hours; Boating is tide dependent and may need to be offered at a different time of day.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out, we’ll begin our transfer to the Central Pacific Area.

Lunch: En route at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Upon arrival to the Tarcoles River area, we will board a flat-bottomed pontoon boat and travel on the Tarcoles River searching these estuarine habitats of the Tarcoles River Basin for some of the local wildlife. As one of the most important in the Pacific coastal region, this basin virtually drains the entire western side of the Central Valley and hosts an amazing diversity of wildlife along its banks and in the extensive mangrove areas near its estuary. In addition to scarlet macaws, water birds and other creatures, some of the large population of American crocodiles (Crocodilus acutus) can often be spotted sunning themselves on the river banks. Our Group Leaders will offer commentary as we search and afterwards, in a special on site presentation about crocs, a local expert will provide facts that were discovered over the years by local and foreign specialists. After finishing up our boat safari, we’ll complete our transfer to Punta Leona and check into the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Swimming & Kayaking Activities, Free Time
Punta Leona
B,L,D
Hotel Punta Leona

Activity note: Driving approx. 5 miles; about 1/2 hour to playa Agujas. Getting in/out of canoes and kayaks; assistance provided as needed; about 2 hours on the water; potential for both waves and calm water; life jackets provided.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes coffee, tea, juice and water.

Morning: We’ll transfer via bus to the small coastal village of Agujas for an outrigger canoe paddling adventure led by expert boating staff who will greet us and provide a safety orientation in order to familiarize us with the equipment. The canoes we’ll use are outriggers, also known as Polynesian canoes, which can carry several people at a time, plus a staff member. Easier to handle, more stable, and safer then kayaks, especially for inexperienced persons, these types of canoes have been plying the oceans of the world for centuries. They were created as tools for survival and travel and, as such, their design remains basically unchanged after generations of refinement. Their beauty lies in their simplicity and functionality. Our modern canoes are built of fiberglass and are equipped with an outrigger on each side to ensure safety and provide peace of mind. As the paddle hits the water, think of the ancient traditions, knowledge and skill that went into the canoe’s evolution. We’ll return to the hotel after our paddling adventure.

Lunch: At the beach, picnic-style meal including a variety of sandwich fixings, chips, fresh fruits, water, iced tea and juice.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leaders will be happy to offer suggestions. You may wish to enjoy the beaches and pools, or just relax at the hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a tasty plated farewell dinner together with juice and soft drinks included, wine for adults; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow morning.

DAY
10
Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Driving approximately 50 miles from hotel to airport; about 2 hours. Please take this into effect when booking your international flights; do not select a departure flight that leaves San José any earlier than 12:30 p.m. Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet (dependent on flight times). Take-away breakfasts available upon request.

Morning: There will be one, early morning transfer to San Jose's international airport included in the program cost for those interested. This concludes the 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!






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