View spider and howler monkeys high in the treetops, raft a wild tropical river, zipline over the rain forest canopy, witness nesting sea turtles lay their eggs, cross a skywalk high above the jungle, and ride by horseback through magical Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Our trip begins in San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city. Set on a high and temperate plateau, and home to museums and restaurants, we are treated to a first day walking tour of the historic downtown.
Our program returns to San Jose on the final night of the trip, for a celebratory farewell dinner at our hotel.
Leaving our hotel early, we load up for an epic trip into Costa Rica’s central highlands and the lush and exotic Orosi Valley. Stopping for lunch in spectacular surroundings, we reach our put in for our rafting adventure. Depending on water conditions and group requirements, we will raft either the Rio Pacuare, or smaller and gentler Rio Pejibaye. With our expert guides, the adventure is safe, thrilling, and full of amazing sights.
Along the way, keep a watch out for parrots, howler monkeys, and the Scarlet Macaw. We enjoy a riverbank lunch, then continue on to Cano Blanco and our river launch to Tortuguero National Park, which is only accessible via river and airstrip.
After completing our rafting adventure, we continue by coach to Cano Blanco on the Tortuguero River. Our route takes us through the dense banana plantations of the Caribbean coastal plain, before we reach our motor launch and begin our 2 hour trip upriver.
It is a spectacular journey, with views of distant volcanoes, and the sounds of tropical birds in the nearby treetops. Located on the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero is gateway to Tortuguero National Park and the location of Tortuga Lodge, our home for the next two nights.
Home to the largest intact rain forest preserve in Central America, Tortuguero National Park protects an amazing population of plants and rare animals totaling more than 300 species, from the three toed sloth, to groups of spider, white faced and howler monkeys. Besides flocks of parrots, we watch for birds including the Scarlett Macaw, Yellow Billed Cuckoo, the Keel Billed Toucan, parakeets, heron and other species.
Led by our expert Costa Rican guides, we explore the lush jungle via riverboat, heading out multiple times to spot wildlife in the morning and evening. Since the area gets up to 200 inches of rainfall, waterways penetrate deep into the jungle allowing us to get close to wildlife. While feeding, groups of spider and white faced monkeys move through the treetop forest canopy while we watch from below.
Deep within the Tortuguero rain forest, Tortuga Lodge is a luxurious resort that uses sustainable methods to reduce its impact on the local environment. On the beautiful lodge grounds, groups of howler and spider monkeys are common sights, as are colorful birds like the toucan and macaw.
Our accommodations are deluxe, with outdoor balconies and private baths. However the feeling of being in the deep jungle is ever present. In the morning the local troop of howler monkeys begin their calls in a memorable serenade that is unforgettable to most visitors.
Meals are in the open air but beautiful lodge dining room that is perched above the Tortuguero River. The lodge pool provides a refreshing place to cool off after a day out exploring the rain forest canals.
On one memorable day and evening we tour the town of Tortuguero, meet some of the residents, and often enjoy a friendly soccer match with local students.
Then we are treated to one of the highlights of the program; a chance to witness green sea turtles crawling ashore to lay their eggs in nests on the sandy beach. Tortuguero National Park was set aside largely to protect the nesting colony from poachers, and now local guides take visitors in small groups to witness this once-in a-lifetime spectacle of nature. The nesting takes place only during a few short months, and while walking the beach, visitors must whisper and refrain from the use of flashlights.
Once the mother has laid her eggs and covered the nest in warm sand, she leaves never to return to the site.
Departing Tortuga Lodge, we board a special chartered flight to San Jose. As we climb out over rainforest and leave the caribbean coast, the views of rainforest, banana plantations and volcanoes are spectacular.
Less than an hour later we are back in San Jose, where we board coaches for the drive to the cooler, upland cloud forest. In the Monteverde area we are treated to a zipline adventure, in which our guides take us soaring over the jungle canopy on almost two miles of double redundant ziplines. We only use the safest, most proven ziplines in Costa Rica, and the experience is thrilling and a favorite for most everyone. Later in the day we arrive in Monteverde at our lodge high in the cloud forest at more than 4 thousand feet in elevation.
From our lodge at Monteverde we explore the magical cloud forest. Home to hundreds of species, many found nowhere else, we are guided by trail and skywalk to amazing views. Cooler than the lowlands and often shrouded in clouds, the thick jungle is home to colorful birds like the rarely sighted resplendent quetzal, a variety of monkey species, and hundreds of different types of orchids. The skywalk system gives us a thrilling look directly into the forest canopy, where most animals live.
We also are treated to a horseback ride through the mixed forest and plantation country near the cloud forest, where we get amazing views of the distant Pacific Ocean, thousand of feet below us.
Cost and Length
The 8 Day trip is $2775 per student. This includes all activities, meals, ground transportation by coach, accommodations and pre departure meetings. Airfare is not included, but is booked by Earth Explore at competitive rates with major airlines.
Ages and Eligibility
Current students in grades 4-12. Elementary, Middle and High School groups travel in separate groups. Eligibility is determined by local teacher(s) based upon maturity and motivation.
Payment and Deadlines
A $500 deposit it required upon registration. Final payment is due 60 days before departure. No funds are retained if student is not accepted into program. Monthly payment plans are available. Trip capacity is based upon the local group status. Most groups reach capacity within 8 weeks of group formation.