Journey to Costa Rica: A Smithsonian Family Adventure

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Discover Costa Rica’s friendly atmosphere and breathtaking scenery during this fun family adventure. Visit Poas Volcano, where you can walk right up to the rim and peer down into the crater of the volcano, and also visit the Arenal Volcano and its scenic surroundings. Hike the trails of La Paz Waterfall Garden, home to one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world. Go whitewater rafting or take a slower-paced float trip down the warm Sarapiqui River. During a Sky Adventures Tour, families can walk through the treetops on hanging bridges, or soar from platform to platform on an exhilarating canopy tour. Drive to Guanacaste, stopping at Ad Astra Rocket to tour the facility where scientists are testing plasma engines to take rockets more quickly to outer space. Participate in a half-day service project at a local school, where kids can meet with pen pals. Enjoy many other optional activities, including surf lessons, or a zip line canyon tour.

Friendly, tropical Costa Rica is a world leader in protecting natural resources, and is the perfect place for family travel and discovery. Throughout this special adventure, your family can explore various geographic locations—from volcanoes to rain forests to beaches—as well as a variety of wildlife. This is the perfect place to explore the beauty and marvelous intricacy of the natural world.

Included in this exceptional itinerary are several special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours and activities, such as:

Explore the Sarapiquí Region. The Sarapiquí region is one of the most important conservation and research sites in the world for the study of lowland and humid tropical rain forests.  The area is also known for its great white water rafting and excellent bird watching, and there is no end to the activities available here that will thrill your family.  

Visit a chocolate workshop. Hike in the rain forest to visit La Tirimbina, a chocolate workshop, to learn the fascinating history of chocolate, learn about the growing and processing of the cacao beans, and, of course, to try some chocolate too!

Private talk by a volcanologist. At the Arenal Observatory Lodge, one of the scientists from the OVSICORI (Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica) gives an exclusive talk on volcanology.

Go for a bike ride near Lake Arenal. Hop on a bike and explore the surrounding countryside. Begin at the hotel with a downhill ride to the dam at Lake Arenal, then continue for a bit around the lake. (Bike route is a mix of packed gravel and paved roads.)

Private tour of the facilities at Ad Astra Rocket. Ad Astra is owned by Franklin Chang-Diaz, the one and only Costa Rican astronaut.  He went to space seven times with NASA before retiring and coming back to Costa Rica. One of the scientists at Ad Astra Rocket will give your family a tour of the facility and explain what they are working on—at this time, a plasma engine to take rockets more cheaply and quickly to outer space. Tour not available in December.  

Work with a local school on a community project.  Visit a local school, where the group takes part in a half day service project.  (The exact nature of the project will depend on the number of participants and the needs of the school and community at the time of your visit.)  

Final payment can be made by credit card.  Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.  

 

 

 

2014 Dates
Dates Adult Price Teen Price (12-17) Child Price (
06/21 - 06/29 $3,690 $3,590 $3,490
07/05 - 07/13 $3,690 $3,590 $3,490
Call for Availability
12/27 - 01/04 $3,890 $3,790 $3,690
2015 Dates
Dates Adult Price Child Price
03/14 - 03/22 $3,790 $3,590
03/28 - 04/05 $3,790 $3,590
06/20 - 06/28 $3,790 $3,590
07/25 - 08/02 $3,790 $3,590
11/21 - 11/29 $3,790 $3,590
12/19 - 12/27 $3,990 $3,790
12/26 - 01/03 $3,990 $3,790

Single Supplement: $1,500

Triple discount (children under 12 sharing with 2 adults): $400

 *Minimum of six participants required.

Day 1 – Depart Home / Arrive San Jose

Upon arrival in San Jose, your family is met and transferred to the hotel. Rest and relax after your long journey.

Days 2-3 – Sarapiquí Region

The Sarapiquí region is one of the most important conservation and research sites in the world for the study of lowland and humid tropical rain forests.  The area is also known for its great white water rafting and excellent bird watching, and there is no end to the activities available here that will thrill your family.

 

  • Poás Volcano
  • La Paz Waterfall Gardens
  • Whitewater rafting on the Sarapiquí River
  • La Tirimbina Chocolate Workshop 
Days 4-5 – Arenal Volcano Area

The area around Arenal Volcano is a playground for families. Your family has opportunities while here to explore this remarkable area on foot, by bike, and flying through the forest canopy on a zip line tour.   You can also gain remarkable insights into the power of a volcano through a special talk with a local scientist.

 

  • Sky Adventure tour
  • Meet a volcanologist
  • Optional forest hike
  • Bike ride through the countryside
  • Relax in thermal hot springs
Days 6-8 – North Pacific Coast, Guanacaste

Did you know that Costa Rica has exactly one astronaut? Visit Ad Astra Rocket en route to the North Pacific coast, and learn what this remarkable man is working on. Once on the coast, your family has an entire day at leisure, during which you can take surfing lessons, go on an adventure tour at a nearby hacienda, or just relax on the beach. A highlight of your time will definitely be a visit to a local school, where your family can participate in a community project, and kids can meet their Costa Rican pen pals!

 

  • Visit a shelter protecting various types of jungle cats 
  • Ad Astra Rocket (tour not available in December) 
  • Day at leisure
  • Friends Across Borders Meeting (pen pals)
Day 9 – Depart Liberia / Arrive Home
Hotel Bougainvillea

The Hotel Bougainvillea is a small hotel only 20 minutes from the airport. It’s located in Heredia, which is a province of San Jose. Set on a gorgeous landscape of 10 acres of lush gardens, the hotel features 80 comfortable rooms, each with a balcony and an amazing view. Other highlights include a pool, a tennis court, a gift shop, a restaurant, internet access, and a business center.

La Quinta Sarapiqui

La Quinta is an eco-lodge that has been nationally certified by the Costa Rican Tourists Board with its Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST).  La Quinta strives to have little to no negative impact on its immediate environment.  The inn is set on ten acres of regenerating agriculture, a reforested area with native trees, an old-growth forest on the riverside and tropical gardens. The Inn has 28 rooms surrounded by a tropical garden rich in heliconias, gingers, palms and flowering trees. Rooms have private bathrooms, hot water, air conditioning, a ceiling fan, walk-in closet, hairdryer, safety box, and a beautiful thatched roof porch with hammocks and rocking chairs, from where you can enjoy the view of flowers and birds.  The Inn has established specific habitat to attract butterflies, frogs, small mammals and lots of birds.

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Arenal Observatory Lodge was originally built in 1987 as a Smithsonian Institute scientific research station. Unlike other La Fortuna hotels, this volcano lodge is the only Arenal Volcano observatory situated within Arenal National Park, protected from danger by the deep gorge of the Agua Caliente River.  The lodge features 48 rooms in various buildings spread over the property. Most have a view of the volcano and all overlook verdant gardens. The dining room has floor to ceiling windows and opens to a wide deck to enjoy panoramic views of the volcano. An infinity pool, Jacuzzi, numerous well-marked trails, and a small shop are also features of the lodge.

Bosque del Mar

A unique beachfront property in Playa Hermosa, this boutique eco hotel is the perfect spot from which to explore Guanacaste.  With just 32 rooms tucked away in the rain forest, but only steps from a beautiful golden brown sand beach, it is a favorite spot for families! The hotel staff is extremely diligent in the quest to preserve the rich natural environment of the area, and their revolutionary water treatment plan has made them pioneers in the region.

Why Costa Rica?

The ultimate eco-adventure
Costa Rica is home to spectacular rain forests and wildlife and a global leader in protecting its natural resources. You and your family will experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in this eco-friendly paradise.
Over 850 species of birds and hundreds of species of animals
Costa Rica’s lush, diverse ecosystems, pristine waterways and volcanic sandy beaches are home to a staggering amount of plant and animal life. From the largest butterfly garden in the world to sea turtles, howler monkeys and tapirs, you will not soon forget the beauty and serenity of a Costa Rican adventure.
Peaceful, stable and safe
Costa Rica is a serene, peaceful country with a long history of being a peacemaker in Central America. During the 19th century, the country invested in healthcare and education, rather than the military, and has a stable, well-established infrastructure and no standing army.
Easy to get to!
Costa Rica is easy to get to, with direct flights from several airports, including Newark, New Jersey. From Houston, Miami and Dallas, flying time is less than three hours. A great destination for families who want to start their adventure as soon as possible!

Why Costa Rica with Thomson and Smithsonian?

Visit to the Sarapiquí Region 
 The Sarapiquí region is one of the most important conservation and research sites in the world for the study of lowland and humid tropical rain forests.  The area is also known for its great whitewater rafting and excellent bird watching, and there is no end to the activities available here that will thrill your family.
Private talk by a volcanologist 
 At the Arenal Observatory Lodge, one of the scientists from the OVSICORI (Obvservatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica) gives an exclusive talk on volcanology.
Bike riding near Lake Arenal 
 Hop on a bike and explore the surrounding countryside.  Begin at the hotel with a downhill ride to the dam at Lake Arenal, then continue for a bit around the lake.  (Bike route is a mix of packed gravel and paved roads.)
Private tour of the facilities at Ad Astra Rocket (tour not available in December) 
  Ad Astra is owned by Franklin Chang-Diaz, the one and only Costa Rican astronaut.  He went to space seven times with NASA before retiring and coming back to Costa Rica. One of the scientists at Ad Astra Rocket will give your family a tour of the facility and explain what they are working on—at this time, a plasma engine to take rockets more cheaply and quickly to outer space.
Work with a local school on a community project 
 Visit a local school, where the group takes part in a half day service project.  (The exact nature of the project will depend on the number of participants and the needs of the school and community at the time of your visit.)
Final payment can be made by credit card
 Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.