OverviewDescriptionRequirementsOutlineItineraryCostApplicationInstructorRainforest And ReefPenn State Lehigh Valley Biology - Dr. Jacqueline McLaughlin
Rainforest and Reef

The itinerary for this trip has been set and will be run via the professional services of Rainforest and Reef Costa Rica.

Length 14 Days/13 Nights

Day 1

ARRIVAL - SAN JOSE. Following your arrival at Juan Santamaría International Airport, outside of San Jose, we will be met by Rainforest and Reef staff members and transferred to a hotel in San Jose. After dinner, there will be an orientation session lead by the Rainforest and Reef staff members. This is an opportunity to overview our upcoming travel itinerary, get acquainted, and ask questions. Over night accommodations in San Jose. D


Tropical Dry Forest
Day 2

SAN JOSÉ – SAVEGRE - CLOUDFOREST HIKE. After an early breakfast, we will depart by bus and travel southeast, along the Pan American Highway. Our route will have us climb steadily to an elevation of 8,200 feet. About 50 miles from San José, we will come to the village of San Gerardo de Dota and then travel on to Savegre Lodge. Established in 1957 when Don Efraín Chacón, family members and several close friends bushwhacked their way through over 30 miles of forest to the site where the family farm now stands. Aside from the farm and cabins built for guests, the surrounding region is one of the finest examples of high elevation cloudforest in all of Latin America. In addition, the Savegre River runs through the property and is excellent for trout fishing. The farm itself has apple orchards and a small dairy operation. There are numerous trails here that provide an excellent opportunity for hiking. Horseback riding is also available. Savegre Lodge and the surrounding cloudforest is considered by many to be the best place in the Latin America to see the resplendent quetzal year-round, one of the most beautiful birds in the Americas. Other high-elevation birds that could be sited include a variety of hummingbirds, the sooty robin, volcano junco and several species of silky flycatchers. Meals are home cooked and much of the wholesome food served is grown on the farm. Dinner and over night at Savegre Lodge. B L D.


Day 3


SAVEGRE CLOUDFOREST AND PÁRAMO HIKE - SAN JOSE After an early breakfast and a birding hike in the surrounding cloud forest our group will begin the trip back to San José. Along our route route we will come to the highest point on the Pan American highway, an elevation of 10,000 feet above the sea level, where we will encounter the northern most limit of páramo, or tropical tundra habitat. This ecosystem harbors highland shrub and tussock grass as the dominant vegetation. We will hike within this unique forest type, trying to spot birds or mammals that have adapted to this environment. Once in San Jose, time permitting, we will pass by and discuss the history of some of the most prominent sites within the Costa Rican capitol. Dinner and overnight in San José. B L D
Day 4

SAN JOSE-BRAULIO CARRILLO NATIONAL PARK - LA SELVA -GANDOCA MANZANILLO. Following an early breakfast, we will depart for Costa Rica’s Caribbean slope. On the way we will pass by Braulio Carillo National Park, one of the most biodiverse regions in Costa Rica. W will stop to experience and discuss the 6 different life zones present in this region. La Selva Biological Station is located within the Braulio Carillo National Park. This famous research facility is managed by The Organization of Tropical Studies. Here our group will take a guided hike on the trails and learn about the biological research that has been and is presently being conducted here. Following lunch, we will drive towards the Caribbean. We will pass through the Caribbean port village of Limon, where Christopher Columbus first landed in 1502. Then we will continue on to the village of Gandoca, access point to one of the Costa Rica’s marine reserves, Gandoca-Manzanillo Natural Refuge. This refuge was recently protected because of its importance to the Leatherback sea turtle’s nesting. Once in Gandoca, we will meet the staff of ANAI Association who conduct a full-scale research and protecting program aimed at ensuring the survival of the largest species of sea turtle which nests in Costa Rica. After we have settled into our accommodations, we will participate in an informative session on the work that is being done by ANAI’s staff on the site; research and conservation activities will be performed along with the ANAI staff during the evening hours, and the upcoming days in Gandoca. B L D

Note: Lodging and meals at Gandoca will be done at the houses of local families of this community

Day 5

ACTIVITIES AT GANDOCA. Following breakfast, all group members will be involved in the daily research and conservation activities performed by ANAI Research Staff and Volunteers. Some activities include maintaining nest temperature, a beach clean-up (removing debris like plastic goods, aluminum cans or logs brought ashore by sea currents that may hamper female turtles from coming ashore or hatchlings from making their way to the ocean), and looking out for hatchlings attempting to make an early departure to sea. These hatchlings will be brought back to the hatchery and released just before sunset to increase their chance of survival. Other activities will presented by the ANAI staff. Dinner and over night in Gandoca. B L D


Day 6

ACTIVITIES AT GANDOCA. We will continue assisting the ANAI staff with their day and night turtle conservation activities. We will also meet with local school teachers to discuss the teaching of environmental science in their village. Dinner and overnight at Gandoca. B L D


Day 7
August 1

BANANA PLANTATION TOUR-TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK. Early today we will depart Gandoca for a nearby banana plantation. Here, our group will learn how bananas are raised and processed in Costa Rica. The history, economic importance and ecological impact of the banana industry will also be considered. Following lunch, we will travel by boat through an inland waterway to Tortuguero National Park and the John H. Phipps Biological Station. Upon arrival, we will be welcomed by research staff of the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC) and given an orientation session on the history, research, and work that has and is presently being done here by the CCC. After dinner, which will be cooked by one of the most famous local culinary specialists in Tortguero, will assist CCC Staff and Volunteers in their sea turtle conservation efforts. Five of the world’s eight species of sea turtles breed offshore and nest on the beaches of Tortuguero. The most well prevalent species being the Atlantic Green sea turtle. Participants will have the opportunity to observe and assist with the tagging and measuring of turtles, as females come ashore to lay eggs. Some nests are created below the high tide line and eggs laid here have little or no chance to develop and hatch. In an effort to increase survivorship, some of these nests will be relocated to higher ground. Our presence on the beach, especially at night, is also a great deterrent to poachers, who collect and eat or sell the eggs. Dinner and overnight Tortuguero. B L D.


Day 8
August 2

TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK. After breakfast, participants will travel through the canals of Tortuguero National Park and observe some of the lush surrounding lowland rainforest. Some call this "Costa Rica´s Amazon", as eleven different life zones have been identified within the Park. Wildlife found here include three species of monkeys, river otters, three-toed sloths, caimans, iguanas, freshwater turtles and more than 320 species of birds, including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the New World, 3 species of toucans and 8 species of parrots. Aside from its diverse flora and fauna, Tortuguero is a beautiful and tranquil spot, with palm-lined beaches stretching off as far as the eye can see in both directions. Group members will also be involved in daily activities of CCC Research Staff and Volunteers. Our group will also take a guided hike on the land portion of Tortuguero National Park through the lush lowland tropical rainforest. This promises to be a unique experience, spotting birds, insects, and mammals as we explore the untamed forest. Dinner and overnight at Tortuguero.


Day 9
August 3

TORTUGUERO ACTIVITIES. We will continue assisting the CCC staff with their day and night turtle conservation activities. We will also meet with local school teachers to discuss the teaching of environmental science in their village. Dinner and overnight Tortuguero. B L D


Day 10 August 4


ARENAL VOLCANO-BALDI HOT SPRINGS. Early this morning, we will depart for Arenal Volcano. This is one of the most active volcanoes in the Western Hemisphere. Arenal has been in a constant state of activity since it last erupted in 1968. Located on the southern shores of the Lake Arenal, it is a spectacular site with its perfect conical shape rising from the surrounding hills. Following lunch, we will visit Baldi Hot Springs, located at the base of Arenal. Steaming waters form waterfalls and natural therapeutic pools that we can soak in and relax. The hot springs found here are surrounded by brilliant vegetation, while Arenal serves as a stunning backdrop. After the sun sets, if with some luck, we can observe the activity of Arenal. On a clear night, one can see bursts of fire and red-hot molten lava shooting hundreds of feet into the sky, whereas during the day only smoke and the volcano's roar are apparent. Explosions typically occur every day and they are easy to see if the sky is clear. Overnight in a lodge near Lake Arenal.


Arenal Volcano

Day 11 August 5

ARENAL VOLCANO LAVA FLOWS-LA FORTUNA WATERFALLS-LAKE ARENAL-MONTEVERDE CLOUDFOREST RESERVE. Following breakfast today, we will spend the morning hiking on the hardened lava flows that make up Arenal´s lower slopes. Here our group will observe the remains of the volcano’s active past. We will also hike to the beautiful La Fortuna waterfalls. After lunch, we will take a brief look at Lake Arenal, the largest lake in Costa Rica. A hydroelectric dam at one end produces 75% of the electricity used in Costa Rica. It is also well known for its’ windsurfing and freshwater fishing. Our group will then travel to the village of Monteverde. This is a peaceful community, considered an example of conservation. Around this little village we will find several reserves (the Children´s Eternal Rain Forest and the Santa Elena Reserve among others). Ee will visit the famed Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve, one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica. After a very full day, we will have dinner and overnight Monteverde. B L D


Day 12
August 6


MONTEVERDE CLOUDFOREST RESERVE HUMMINGBIRD GALLERY- CHEESE FACTORY. After breakfast this morning, we will have a chance to hike in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. At present, Monteverde is comprised of 27,000 acres and run by the Monteverde Conservation League. The Reserve is cool, due to its’ elevation and lush vegetation. Incredible biodiversity here includes 400 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 500 butterfly species and 2500 different types of plants. Three species of monkeys, tree sloths, coatimundis, kinkajous, the spectacular resplendent quetzal, three-wattled bell birds, red-eyed tree frogs and blue morpho butterflies are just a few of the animal highlights. At the end of our journey in the reserve our group will visit the Hummingbird Gallery, where feeders are set up to attract some of the many species of hummingbirds found here. Fifty species have been recorded in Costa Rica. Following lunch, our group will visit the well-known Monteverde Cheese Factory, which is run by local Quakers, one of the largest dairy producers in Costa Rica. About 2200 pounds of cheese are produced daily and well known for its quality in Costa Rica and throughout Central America. Dinner and overnight at Monteverde. B L D


Day 13
August 7
MONTEVERDE BUTTERFLY FARM. Early this morning, our group will travel a short distance to a local butterfly farm. Here, we will have a guided tour through the farm. We will see hundreds of spectacular butterflies found in Costa Rica and learn about their complex life cycle and the importance of butterflies in the wild. Following the butterfly tour our group will take a Canopy Tour. In a tropical rainforest most of the activity occurs in the canopy layer. So that’s exactly where were we are headed, to the top layer of the cloudforest! Be prepared for an exiting ride!! After lunch, we will return to San José for a semi-formal farewell dinner and overnight. B L D
Day 14
August 8

SAN JOSÉ-DEPARTURE. After an early breakfast and farewells to our Rainforest and reef field course staff, we will be transferred to Juan Santamaría International Airport outside of San José for our return flight home. B


The only document required is a tourist passport. Please bring two copies of your passport picture page for help in reconfirming flights and as entrance requirement for the reserve. No visa is required. No vaccination certificate is required; however, it is highly recommended that you visit your family doctor to discuss individual vaccinations deemed appropriate for Costa Rica.

Sun block (you are close to the equator where there is less atmospheric protection from UV); insect repellent (taking garlic and vitamin B1 helps); canteen or water bottle; flashlight with spare batteries; personal first aid kit; personal toiletries; daypack or small backpack.

Binoculars; elementary school items to donate; camera (most underestimate the amount of film to bring); video camera

Note: Due to weather conditions and circumstances beyond the control of our Costa Rica Staff, certain activities may be changed or done on different days in the best interest of the group.

Overview | Description | Requirements | Outline | Itinerary | Cost | Application | Instructor

©2002 Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley College

This site was last updated on July 17, 2003.
Questions or Comments