Day 1: San José
Our family Costa Rica trip begins upon arrival in San José, where we'll transfer to our hotel. We meet our Expedition Leader at an orientation dinner this evening.
Day 2: Rafting / Sarapiquí
After breakfast, we make our way north to the protected rainforest around Sarapiquí, an outstanding ecotourism destination. Here we experience the thrill of a jungle rafting excursion. Later, we’ll visit the Tirimbina Rainforest Center to learn about bats found in this region. On a night walk into the forest we find the mist nets that scientists have erected to trap bats.
Day 3: La Selva / Sarapiquí
This morning we learn about global efforts to conserve rainforests on a guided walk through La Selva, an international biological research station. During our short hike we may see monkeys, sloths, peccaries, iguanas and up to 400 different kinds of birds! After lunch, visit Hacienda Pozo Azul, a working ranch that offers some of the best nature adventures in Costa Rica, where we'll explore on horseback.
Day 4: Sarapiquí / Arenal
During the Chocolate Tour at Tirimbina Rainforest Center, we learn how the cacao bean is transformed into the locally made organic chocolates we have a chance to sample. Later, we drive to the Arenal area, where we explore the treetops on a canopy tour. A tram ride takes us 125 feet above the forest floor, moving slowly to experience the diverse life of the rainforest at varying levels. To descend, there are two choices: the Sky Trek canopy zip line tour, zinging down a series of cables running between the mountains, or a more sedate return via the tram. (Minimum age for the zip line is eight years.) This evening, we overnight across from the volcano at Arenal Observatory Lodge. The lodge is set high on a ridge facing the famous volcano, surrounded by thousands of acres of tropical rainforest. Seismologists from the Smithsonian Institute and the National University of Costa Rica intensively monitor the volcano from their research station at the lodge. Though Arenal Volcano is currently in a dormant phase, the juncture of the two tectonic plates that lie beneath it creates periodic friction, forcing molten rock up through fissures where it emerges as fiery magma.
Day 5: Arenal
After breakfast, embark on a nature hike through the rainforest while overhead the forest canopy is alive with the squawks and songs of an array of birds. This afternoon, enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot springs, where a waterfall offers a natural massage. A visit to Vida Campesina, a self-sustaining organic farm, offers an exciting glimpse into rural life and sustainable farming practices in Costa Rica.
Day 6: Arenal / San José
This morning, return to San José, where we spend our final evening at Xandari Plantation Hotel. Those who have booked beach extensions will continue by road from Arenal to Costa Rica’s North Pacific Riviera.
Day 7: San José / Home
Our family Costa Rica trip comes to a close today as travelers transfer to the airport for homeward flights, or continue with the Tortuguero extension.