Costa Rica's Natural Heritage
In this small Central American democracy kissed by nature, our small group discovers a nation’s wealth in four distinct regions, from cloud forest to rainforest; Central Valley to Pacific Coast. As Costa Rica presents its staggering display of biodiversity – pristine landscapes, unique microclimates, exotic flora and fauna – we enjoy a relaxed yet comprehensive exploration that celebrates Costa Rica’s wide-ranging natural resources.
Exclusive Departure: this departure is considered exclusive and the participants are U-M travelers, who consist of alums, family and friends.
DEPART FOR SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
We arrive in the Costa Rican capital and transfer to our hotel located in the Escazu area outside the city. This afternoon and evening are at leisure.
After meeting our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at this morning’s breakfast briefing, we embark on an excursion through the Central Valley to Poas Volcano National Park. Here we view one of the world’s largest craters, a steaming, bubbling cauldron; and also take a guided walk along park trails. We continue on to the Doka Coffee Estate, located on the fertile slopes of Poas Volcano, where we learn about coffee-making and Costa Rica’s coffee crop, one of the country’s largest exports. After lunch at the Doka Estate, we return to our hotel late afternoon. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. B,L,D
SAN JOSE/ARENAL REGION
We leave this morning for the Arenal region, passing picturesque villages along the way. We stop in Carrizal at the family-owned Botanical Orchid Garden, with tropical trails, exhibits, nurseries, and gardens all dedicated to the wondrous orchid plant. After time to explore here, we travel on to Arenal and our hotel, which offers magnificent views of Arenal Volcano and where we dine tonight. B,L,D
This morning we visit a local elementary school to enjoy a cultural exchange with the children and learn about Costa Rica’s vaunted educational system – the country boasts a literacy rate of more than 95%. We continue on to Ecocentro Danaus, a biological reserve focused on conservation, environmental education, and sustainability. A series of trails winds through the secondary forest, where we see diverse flora, including orchids, bromelia, and heliconia, along with some of the preserve’s 150 species of birds, sloths, and bats, among other fauna. Highlights include a butterfly farm with 30 different species and a natural water spring that attracts waterfowl, alligators, and iguana. Later today there’s time for more volcano viewing before and after dinner (at a local restaurant) from a comfortable perch at our hotel. B,L,D
On this morning’s visit to Arenal’s hanging bridges Sky Walk, we have the special opportunity to experience the rainforest from the canopy level as we traverse a series of five suspension bridges high above the forest floor. While we observe the rainforest from a unique perspective, our naturalist guide will point out some of the flora and fauna that thrive here. Then we return to our hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure to relax amidst the beautiful grounds and thermal waters. Lunch and dinner today are on our own. B
ARENAL REGION/MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST
We travel today to the “green cathedral” of Monteverde. En route we stop to visit a non-profit handicrafts cooperative dedicated to enhancing the economic and social well-being of local women artists. After lunch on our own in Santa Elena, we continue on to our hotel, arriving late afternoon. We dine tonight at a local restaurant in Monteverde. B,D
This morning we embark on a guided walk through Monteverde’s biological reserve, learning about the amazing biodiversity in this relatively small area. Next we tour the Hummingbird Gallery, where feeders attract several different species of the delicate hummingbird. After lunch together we visit the Monteverde Bat Jungle to learn about Costa Rica’s diverse – and important – bat population. Late this afternoon we return to our hotel for time at leisure before we dine together this evening. B,L,D
We depart by coach this morning for Guanacaste, Costa Rica’s stunning northwest Pacific coastal region. Along the way we visit Monteverde’s delightful Butterfly Garden, with a variety of species including the stunning blue morpho and the virtually transparent glasswing. After a stop for lunch, we reach our resort hotel overlooking the Pacific mid-afternoon. B,L,D
A float safari on the Tempisque River highlights this morning’s excursion to the Palo Verde region, which is both an extraordinary wetland and also one of the world’s last tropical dry forests. In this unique ecosystem, we can expect to see abundant bird- and wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and crocodiles. After lunch together we return to our hotel mid-afternoon, with the remainder of the day at leisure along one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful Pacific Coast settings. B,L
Today is at leisure to enjoy the beautiful beach and other amenities of our hotel, including an outdoor infinity pool. Optional activities include kayaking, hiking, or visiting the lively town of Tamarindo. This evening we gather at a farewell dinner to celebrate our Costa Rican adventure. B,D
DEPART FOR U.S.
We transfer to the airport this morning for our return flights to the U.S. B