Costa Rica | Tropical Ecosystems: Exploring Biodiversity

Costa Rica | Tropical Ecosystems: Exploring Biodiversity

About this trip

Explore Costa Rica’s abundant biodiversity on this 7-day expedition into the rainforests of Arenal and Sarapiquí. In Arenal, tackle topics of earth science while examining the terrain of Arenal Volcano, observe tropical flora and fauna from the forest canopy, and take a dip in thermal springs. Then head to Sarapiquí to explore riverine and rainforest habitats, searching for wildlife by boat and on foot. Working in partnership with the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center, students will gain firsthand understanding of the critical importance of tropical ecosystems and the conservation efforts underway to protect them.

Highlights

  • Learn about Costa Rica’s geology and volcanic history at Arenal Volcano National Park and soak in the lodge's natural hot springs pools.
  • Observe the fascinating flora and fauna inhabiting the tropical rainforest at Selva Verde’s private rainforest reserve.
  • Practice data sampling techniques during a hands-on activity at Tirimbina Biological Reserve.
  • Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting.
  • Visit a farm in the Arenal region for lunch and see firsthand what rural Costa Rican life is like.
8 Travelers

$1,495

Land Cost

Group size

Book 7 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

$1,465

Land Cost

Group size

Book 14 travelers and 2 group
leaders travel for free

24 Travelers

$1,495

Land Cost

Group size

Book 21 travelers and 3 group
leaders travel for free

San José

Day 1

Upon arrival in San José, after clearing immigration and customs, you will be met and transferred to your local hotel. The bustling capital city of San José is located in Costa Rica’s Central Valley and has daily temperatures that rarely dip below 68°F or rise above 78°F. This afternoon you will have an orientation to get to know your guide and the amazing country that will be your home for the next week. Dinner at the hotel.

Dinner included
Overnight at Radisson Europa

Arenal

Day 2

After breakfast this morning transfer to the Arenal area. Visit the town of La Fortuna. Next, stop near the base of Arenal Volcano within the national park for an explorative hike. Learn about the geology of the volcano as well as local flora and fauna. Continue to the hotel for check-in. This evening enjoy dinner at the hotel and soak in the hotel’s hot spring pools.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Arenal Paraiso

Arenal

Day 3

This morning, hike along a treetop suspended bridge system situated in the rainforest canopy. Continue the day with a visit to a local farm for lunch and exploration of rural life in the Arenal region. Later, return to the hotel with time at leisure to enjoy the on-site hot springs. This evening, learn how both human and natural forces have had major impacts on the region during a talk with Willy Pineda.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Arenal Paraiso

Sarapiqui

Day 4

This morning, depart Arenal and transfer to the Sarapiquí region to Selva Verde Lodge & Rainforest Reserve. Conservation of the rainforest was a major reason for the establishment of the lodge, which was founded in 1985. The lodge is designed to have minimal impact on the environment and is proud to participate in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program (CST). This important program sets a standard for lodges in key aspects of sustainability including environmental impact, community impact, and environmental awareness-building. Receive an orientation to the lodge and private reserve and an introduction to the important work of the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center (SCLC). The SCLC's mission is to support conservation through educational programming and community development. The ESL (English as a Second Language) program, the after-school program, and the scholarship program have wide participation locally and are mostly funded by international guests via their participation in programs like this one. Next gather around for a "charla," a presentation on local culture given by a community member. After dinner, enjoy a guided walk around the lodge in search of nocturnal creatures.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Sarapiqui

Day 5

Early this morning, join your guide for an exciting birding hike to view some of the 300-plus species found here! Some popular species you may see include the Great Tinamou, Gartered Trogon, Keel-billed Toucan, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Red-lored Parrot, so be sure to bring binoculars! Following breakfast, set out on a hike through the 500-acre reserve to discover the rich and diverse examples of flora and fauna. As you study the forest, your guide will discuss the complex details of the ecosystem and how life in the rainforest thrives. Selva Verde Lodge's reserve is located on a large, private tract of primary and secondary premontane wet forest in the lush lowlands. Life in a rainforest is stratified in three distinct horizontal layers. The upper canopy is a little-known world of beauty and biological diversity. The middle tier is filled with small trees, lianas, and epiphytes. The ground surface layer is littered with branches, twigs, and undergrowth. Contrary to popular thought, ground cover is thick only where sunlight penetrates sufficiently. After lunch, enjoy an exciting whitewater rafting trip on the Río Sarapiquí. All rafting trips include a professional river guide, the necessary safety equipment (helmet, life jackets, etc.), and a thorough lesson on rafting and safety procedures prior to your adventure. As you raft along the river, keep an eye out for the variety of wildlife in the surrounding forests. Enjoy a dip in the river along the way along with some fresh fruit before returning to the lodge.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Sarapiqui

Day 6

After breakfast, embark on a boat ride down the Río Sarapiquí. As you wind down the river, which is bordered with forests and cultivated fields, watch for aquatic animals, birds, and reptiles in their natural habitat. You can also see residents going about their daily lives and witness the impact of local banana plantations on this watershed. This afternoon, transfer to nearby Tirimbina Biological Reserve for an introduction to data sampling techniques, with time for a data collection activity before exploring the natural and cultural history of chocolate. Hike across a suspended bridge to a plot of land formerly used for growing cacao, and watch a demonstration showing how the fruit is converted into chocolate. Learn about the crop's role in the pre- and post-colonial Americas while sampling chocolate prepared on the spot using traditional methods. Return to Selva Verde for dinner.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Selva Verde Lodge

Departure

Day 7

Depart for the airport for your flight home.

Breakfast- included