8577
Costa Rica
A Taste of Costa Rica
Hike cloud forests and volcanic trails, learn about biodiversity and delicate ecosystems and savor the art of coffee making and good conversation as you discover authentic Costa Rica.
Rating (4.97)
Program No. 8577RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
1,698
Special Offer
Flights start at
455
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9 days
8 nights
22 meals
8 B 7 L 7 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrive San José, Orientation
San José
Hotel Balmoral

Activity note: Depart North America on flights to San José, Costa Rica. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

Afternoon: Upon arriving at the hotel, check in and get your room assignment. Then take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. The Group Leader will be on hand to provide assistance as needed. 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Traditional Costa Rican food is healthy with generally mild seasoning, often featuring fresh vegetables and fruit. Rice and beans are an important part of the local diet, commonly served in one form or another at almost every meal, including breakfast. 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. On day 5 we will be visiting a local school. Participants often enjoy donating small school supplies such as colored pencils and markers. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

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: At leisure.

DAY
2
Costa Rica Overview, Gold Museum, To Sarapiqui, Bio Corridor
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: The transfer from San José to Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowlands is about 55 miles, taking approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll have a presentation by a local expert to provide an overview of Costa Rica. After checkout procedures, we’ll then depart for a field trip to the Gold Museum. This unique underground museum showcases an impressive collection of Pre-Colombian gold. The 2,000-piece collection weighs more 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. After the field trip, we’ll begin our transfer to Sarapiqui in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Sarapiqui. This is one of the richest sites for birds in Middle America with well more than 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. Once we arrive at the lodge we will check-in with some time to freshen up and relax before our next activity. We’ll regroup for a presentation by a local expert on the Mesoamerican biological corridor.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure. Meet with new Road Scholar friends on the porch, enjoy a nightcap while relaxing to the sounds of the rainforest, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
River Rafting, Cultural Interaction, Latin Dance
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: Early morning birding on flat trails and lodge paths. Padding during stretches of our rafting field trip. Please wear a bathing suit and shoes you don’t mind getting wet.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll ride by motorcoach to a rafting drop-off site along the shores of the Sarapiqui. Once on site, put on your assigned gear and listen to a safety orientation before getting started. A rafting expert will sit at the back of the raft and navigate. Participants will be invited to assist with paddling at various stretches along the river. We’ll then return to the lodge and change into dry clothes.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: We’ll have some “down” time before our next activity. You might like to take a walk around the lodge grounds, settle into a comfy chair, cool off in the pool, practice your photography skills, or use this opportunity to do some bird watching. For our next field trip we will take a short walk to the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center (SCLC). Founded in the mid-1990s, the SCLC is a registered non-profit organization whose mission is to link communities and conservation through education and ecotourism in the Sarapiqui region. Programs include environmental education, ecotourism activities, English classes, an ecology club, community outreach, a women's group, and many others. Here we’ll meet local people for a “charla” — Spanish for “chat” — to foster communication and understanding. During this informative session led by a local community member, we’ll learn about life in Sarapiqui, local ecosystems, immigration, domestic life, and artisan work. We’ll conclude with a Q&A session.

Dinner: At the lodge.

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 style of dancing, then lead us through the dances step by step. Finally, we’ll have a chance to practice with a partner.

DAY
4
River Boat Excursion, Local Plantation
Arenal Volcano
B,L,D
Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort & Spa

Activity note: The boat safari is approximately 1 hour. Ascend/descend about 3 fights of stairs, with a handrail, to reach the boat dock. Bus drive from Sarapiqui to Arenal is about 60 miles, taking approximately 3 hours with pit stops.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll check out of the lodge and take the bus to the Puerto Viejo dock. There we’ll board a river boat for a leisurely journey on the Sarapiqui River. The boat captain and our Group Leader will put their expert spotting skills to use and point out riverine wildlife along the way. Some of the animals we hope to see include caimans, turtles, iguanas, bats, monkeys, sloths, kingfishers, and Anhingas. After our boat safari, we’ll transfer to a local plantation to examine the environmental and economic impacts of agriculture in Costa Rica. We’ll then move on to the Arenal area.

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Arenal. Arenal was once Costa Rica's most active volcano and a main draw to the town of La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano National Park. The volcano lords over the countryside with its perfectly conical shape and occasional smoke and gas emissions. While minor activity excites visitors, they are rarely acknowledged by the locals who have learnt to accept the antics of the volcano as part of their daily lives. The thermal waters emanating from the volcano, the clean air and the energy associated with Arenal, makes this a favorite destination for health spa enthusiasts and nature lovers. Arriving at the hotel, we’ll check in with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Arenal Hanging Bridges, Local Farm, Traditional Dinner
Arenal Volcano
B,L,D
Arenal Paraiso Hotel Resort & Spa

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, markers and other basic supplies to donate during the school visit.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: For our next field trip, we’ll transfer to Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges and explore some of its many trails and scenic bridges. This private nature reserve in La Fortuna de San Carlos 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. Visitors are able to view the rainforest from different angles and heights, from ground level to canopy level, learning firsthand about this fascinating and biologically diverse environment. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: We’ll board a motorcoach and drive to a primary school where we'll enjoy a charming dance presentation performed by local children.Next, we’ll visit a local farm to learn about the history of the property and the agricultural practices of this fertile region. The small and painteresque town of Fortuna has changed quite a bit from the village that witnessed the eruptions of Arenal Volcano in 1968. Once a small agricultural community, Fortuna has grown in the shadow of the colossus that once burned and devastated large areas. Although now on a second level of economic importance, many plantations in the surrounding areas 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 owners.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning. Please pack any items you will need tomorrow in your day pack as we will be traveling separately from our luggage.

DAY
6
Transfer to Monteverde, Boat Arenal Lake, Coffee Plantation
Monteverde
B,L,D
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Activity note: Boat ride is about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to Monteverde is about 21 miles, taking approximately 1.5 - 2 hours on unpaved roads; en route stops for lunch and field trip. Our motorcoach will transfer separately with our luggage. Please pack any items you will need for the day in your daypack, since we won’t have access to our luggage until late afternoon.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out, we’ll transfer to the dock for a boat ride across Arenal Lake. We’ll then board a motorcoach for an uphill drive along scenic unpaved back roads up 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 the effects of climate change on conservation initiatives at Monteverde.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Cloud Forest Reserve, Bat Jungle, The Quaker Story
Monteverde
B,L,D
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Activity note: Walking on forest trails and irregular terrain; potentially muddy conditions. Wear a good pair of walking shoes and consider bringing a lightweight rain poncho.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

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 will learn about the characteristics of a cloud forst and stop along the way to study is 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 Bellbird, and Bare-necked Umbrellabird. 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.

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. We’ll return to the hotel for a presentation on the Quaker story from a local expert. In 1951, a group of American Quakers, fearful of their nation’s growing militarism, fled the United States. The Quakers found Costa Rica, a nation without a military, to be the most inviting nation 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 the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
8
Butterfly Garden, Sarchi, Transfer to San José
San José
B,L,D
Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center

Activity note: The transfer from Monteverde to San José is about 90 miles, approximately 3.5 hours. Travel is broken up by en route stops for program activities and lunch.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Check-out. We’ll board our motorcoach and drive to the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens and Arthropod Education Center. As we accompany a resident naturalist on a walking exploration of the gardens, we will view insects and learn about their life cycles and the roles they play in nature. Since opening its doors in 1989, Monteverde Butterfly Gardens has made it its mission to help educate people about butterflies and other insects, as well as arachnids. The nature center houses more than 20 species of insects and arachnids as well as 30 different species of butterflies in 4 separate habitats. Butterflies are fragile creatures and 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 chrysalides, all the butterflies you will see here were bred and raised on the premises. We’ll begin our transfer to San José via the crafts town of Sarchi.

Lunch: En route.

Afternoon: Stopping in Sarchi, the Group Leader will take us through an oxcart workshop to observe how they are made and decorated. Just a few miles from Grecia, Sarchi is well known for its centuries-old tradition of making oxcarts. The brightly colored and intricately decorated carts are a national symbol and can still be seen in use in rural communities. Sarchi is also known for its handcrafted furniture and wood housewares. 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 your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy our last evening together as a group, say farewells, then prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

Breakfast: At the hotel (depending on flight schedule). 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!






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