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. 8577FGC
Length
9 days
Starts at
1,698
Special Offer
Flights start at
455
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9 days
8 nights
23 meals
8 B 7 L 8 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Arrive in San José, Costa Rica, 6PM Program Orientation
San José
D
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. Some Road Scholar gateways require the use of overnight flights in order to get participants to San José by the suggested time. Please contact your Road Scholar program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you would like to make arrangements to arrive in Costa Rica a day or more before your program.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax. 6 p.m. program orientation at the hotel. The Group Leader will greet everyone 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 questions. Meals included in our program feature local cuisine. In some cases, they will be plated and served with a set menu; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Included beverages are typically coffee, tea, water; other beverages usually available for purchase. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow Road Scholars. The Group Leader will always 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: Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Gold Museum, Mesoamerican Biological Corridor
Sarapiqui
B,L,D
Selva Verde Lodge

Activity note: The transfer to Sarapiqui in the Caribbean lowlands is approximately 56 miles; about 2 hours by bus.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll have a presentation by a local expert to provide an overview of Costa Rica. After check out 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 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. Transfer to Sarapiqui in Costa Rica's Caribbean lowlands.

Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Sarapiqui. This is 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 with coffee 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 the full day tomorrow.

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

Activity note: Early morning birding will be done mostly on 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 with coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Early risers and/or wildlife aficionados are welcome to join our Group Leader on an early morning, pre-breakfast, birding walk in lodge environs. Then, return to the lodge for breakfast. We’ll transfer 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 with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll have some “down” time before our next activity. 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 with coffee 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 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 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 approximately 61 miles; about 2.5 to 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 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. 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: At a local restaurant 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. This evening we'll enjoy a presentation on History of Chocolate at our hotel before dinner.

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

Evening: Time at leisure.

DAY
5
Arenal Hanging Bridges, Dinner with Local Family
Arenal Volcano
B,L,D
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, markers 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 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 with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll board a motorcoach and drive to a local 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 family.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Crossing Arenal Lake, Local Coffee Plantation
Monteverde
B,L,D
Hotel Montaña Monteverde

Activity note: The boat ride across Arenal Lake is about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Motorcoach transfer to Monteverde is about 21 miles, approximately 1.5 – 2 hours; en route stops for lunch and field trip. The Road Scholar motorcoach 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 transfer to the dock for a boat ride across Arenal Lake. We’ll then board our motorcoach for an uphill drive along scenic back roads up to Monteverde (about one hour). 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.

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 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. 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: Free time.

DAY
8
Butterfly Garden, Sarchi, Farewell to Costa Rica
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 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 has been hand-raising butterflies for more than 15 years and knows 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 chrysalides, all the butterflies you will see here were bred and raised on the premises. Begin transfer to San José.

Lunch: En route to San José.

Afternoon: Our journey to San José will take us via the crafts town of Sarchi. During our stop, our 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: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy our last evening together in Costa Rica, prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes, Flights Home
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 p.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers and refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information.

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

Morning: Transfer to the airport for flights home. 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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