PRICE (Airfare not included)
Aug. 1 - 6, 2019
6 Days | 5 Nights
San Jose , Arenal
INCLUDING AND FEATURING
Room and Board (Breakfast only)
A guided walking tour of San José
An eco-glide canopy tour ( zip-lining!)
A visit to Baldi hot springs
Bonding and building relationships
Immersion into a unique culture
Addition of "international performance" on resumé
Bragging rights among peers :)
Unforgettable experiences with friends
If you are interested but can't attend Dec. 10, feel free to email or call us at 718-521-4043 with your questions.
Day 1 (THURSDAY): San Jose , Alajuela - SJO Int'l
+ San Jose for 2 nights
"Chepe," as the city is referred to by locals, is the capital city of Costa Rica and a hub for modern Costa Rican culture. It's also where most visitors depart for tours of central Costa Rica's volcanoes and coffee plantations. Before you leave, take a fun-filled tour of the city's monuments and parks, and maybe sample the burgeoning craft beer scene.
San José transitions from a commercial block of department stores, chic cafés, and fast-food establishments to the haphazard residential areas characteristic of Latin America. Because it is such a large city, tourism services are the most extensive in the country. While the city is not a top destination for visitors, San José has a few attractions for visitors to consider, as well as numerous restaurants, museums, outdoor markets, and parks.
Another attractive characteristic of San José is its temperate weather, which can be quite a relief, particularly during the summer months. Because of its relatively high elevation—3,839 feet (1,170 m)—the city, like the rest of the Central Valley, is always a pleasant temperature year-round, with very limited showers.
Population in San José exploded during the latter half of the twentieth century, following the Second World War. Today 309,672 people—2000 estimate—call the San José canton home and a million more live in surrounding suburbs, comprising about 40 percent of the nation’s total population. Historically San José was only a small village that came to prominence because its fertile soil made for excellent farming. Two years following independence from colonial Spain (1821), the joint Republican strongholds of San José and Alajuela defeated the pro-Mexican Democrats of Heredia and Cartago—the previous capital—in a brief civil war that established San José as the capital of the burgeoning nation.
The introduction of coffee to the Central Valley in the early nineteenth century fueled San José’s prosperity as the city embraced capitalism. An urban merchant class rose as the result of coffee trade, who looked to Europe as an architectural muse.
Because of its relatively late start in terms of development, San José is mostly devoid of antique colonial architecture and the typical stand-out monuments found in other Latin American cities. Rarely is a building more than 100 years old. Instead, plentiful World War II-era buildings fill the city’s skyline, eliciting a feeling that San José is still in its infancy — a growing municipal center that largely retains a small town vibe.
The vast majority of visitors spend no more than a couple days here, before departing for the picturesque beaches and national parks that have defined Costa Rica as a premier tourist destination. The city’s central location makes it ideal for traveling to such destinations, as well as its extensive transportation services—buses leave to just about anywhere throughout the day, and Juan Santamaría International Airport offers flights to the rest of the nation’s airstrips.
Accommodations are extensive as in any big city. Reservations should be made three months in advance during the last few weeks of December as hotels space quickly fills up. Many of the city’s budget hotels are just west of downtown, near Center Street (Calle Central). Home-stays are also an option for those looking to immerse themselves effortlessly into the culture.
Downtown San Jose
Most visitors flock to the city’s downtown, negotiating the bustling urban gridiron, using the pedestrian-only Central Avenue (Avenida Central) for reference.
Culture Plaza (Plaza de la Cultura) provides an ideal location to begin exploring the city’s urban attractions, although is not of much interest in itself. The plaza is a central meeting point for locals and foreigners alike. Ongoing street acts provide for great public entertainment, amidst the park’s overall tranquility. Nearby National Theater, Gold Museum, and the Tourism Information Office (ICT) are the main reason for stopping by.
South of the plaza is the National Theater (Teatro Nacional), considered by most to be San José’s most remarkable edifice. Constructed in the 1890’s, the theater is a prominent center of tico culture. Support for a grand opera house was galvanized following the refusal of Italian opera singer Adelina Patti to perform in Costa Rica, which the prima donna attributed to poor facilities. Irate coffee barons lobbied for a tax on coffee exports to fund the construction of a new venue.
The exterior of the National Theater is stylish, yet somewhat lacking in inspiration. However, the building’s interior is quite spectacular—the marble staircases, golden ceilings, and patterned wood floors alone are worth the visit. Below Culture Plaza, in the basement of ICT, lies the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum (Museo de Oro Precolombino) that houses a collection of ancient gold pieces and trinkets. Also of interest is the attached Numismatic Museum (Museo Numismático), which displays pre-Columbian currencies from centuries past.
Between Avenida 2 and 4 on Calle Central is the bustling Central Park (Parque Central) where city dwellers rendezvous and socialize. To the north is the prominent Melico Salazar Theater—named after the famous Costa Rican tenor—and Soda Palace, a lively 24-hour restaurant that is frequented by local intellectuals. East of Parque Central is the unremarkable neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropólitano), which was built in 1871.
Northeast of Central Park is Morazán Park (Parque Morazán), which encompasses four city blocks. The dome-shaped Temple of Music lies at the park’s center, the intersection of Calle 7 and Avenida 3. An authentic Japanese garden and other statues can be found within the park.
Adjacent to the Morazán Park is Spanish Park (Parque España), a tranquil bastion of tall trees from which birds perch and sing throughout the day, reaching their apex at dusk. The Belgium made Metallic Building (Edificio Metálico) lies to the northwest—a striking attraction that required years of assembly and today houses a school.
North of Morazán is the Jade Museum (Museo de Jade), perhaps Costa Rica’s most outstanding museum. Home to the largest collection of American jade in the world, this is one museum that visitors should not overlook. Other ceramic exhibits, stonework, and gold pieces complete the museum, which are arranged according to the specific cultural region from whence they came. Located on the eleventh floor of the impressive glass INS Building, the museum offers expansive views of the surrounding cityscape as well.
One of the inner-city’s largest open areas, Democracy Plaza (Plaza de la Democracia) is located in downtown’s east. A statue pays tribute to Jose Maria "Don Pepe" Figueres, the father of Costa Rica’s modern democracy. The National Museum (Museo Nacional) lies to the east, within the bullet riddled Bellavista Fortress, an ex-army headquarters. The museum houses a number of historical exhibits, including jade, gold, and colonial art. Kitty-corner from Plaza de la Democracia is the Moorish style National Palace (Palacio Nacional), where the nation’s legislative assemblies are held.
The pleasant National Park (Parque Nacional), located in east San José, is the city’s largest inner-city park. At the park’s center is the National Monument, which depicts Central American regulars driving out the filibuster William Walker. A statue of Juan Santamaría, a national hero, is located to the park’s southwest. The National Library (Biblioteca Nacional), the country’s central library, covers the northwest portion of the park. The National Center of Art and Culture (Centro Nacional de Artes y Cultura) hosts several art galleries, as well as a theater.
West San Jose
The avenues broaden west of downtown, revealing open spaces and even the occasional tree or garden, as the city’s density gradually declines. The general bustle of the main-drag, Paseo Colón, makes its way past the General Cemetery, an elegant collection of headstones that deserve the attention of passers-by. Families gather on All Souls Day and All Saints Day to commemorate deceased love ones.
Up ahead is the tranquil Savannah (Sabana) Metropolitan Park, a wonderful place to escape the commotion of downtown. Woodlands and large open spaces comprise the enormous park that was once the city’s main airport. Its wide open spaces serve the recreationally inclined—kite flyers and soccer players. Also within the park is the National Gymnasium, a venue for large pop concerts; the biggest mainstream names play shows here for mass audiences. National Stadium lies to the south, hosting everything from soccer games to presidential inaugurations. Nearby are courts for volleyball, tennis, basketball, as well as fields for soccer and baseball, and an Olympic-size swimming pool.
The Museum of Costa Rican Art is housed in the old airport traffic control tower, displaying a number of works from tico painters and sculptors. French artist Luis Ferrón constructed the Salon Dorado, whose metal relief mural depicts the history of Costa Rica.
Located in the southwest quadrant of the park is La Salle Natural Science Museum, featuring a number of exhibits related to zoology, archeology, as well as the nation’s only paleontology exhibit. Exhibits are mainly artificial recreations of fauna, however, a live exhibit does host some intriguing wildlife.
+ Hotel Quality Real San Jose. Standard, 2 Queen bed(s)
The Quality Hotel Real San Jose is located in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica within the new business district of San Jose. The hotel provides a wide range of facilities and direct proximity to business centers and leisure activities.
Guests will enjoy the central location of the hotel. Quality Hotel Real San Jose is across from the Business Center Forum and just 15 minutes from the Juan Santa Maria International Airport. For times of relaxation, Costa Rica’s largest mall, the Multi Plaza Mall, is 5 minutes away, and the Valle del Sol golf course is within 3 minutes from the hotel.
The hotel facilities are available for your comfort and convenience. Four large multi-purpose rooms are open for business or social events and hold up to 80 people. An outdoor area can be used for special dinners or cocktail parties. Visitors have access to the business center, supplying the newest technology, and the hotel’s ample audio-visual equipment.
The Quality Hotel Real San Jose restaurant is open from 10 am to 10 pm. The hotel offers complimentary American style buffet breakfast and 24-hour room service. A large fitness center and outdoor swimming pool area are also available.
Quality Hotel Real, San Jose, Valle del Sol golf, airport hotel, city tours, cultural tours
+ Private driver: Alajuela and SJO Airport to San Jose
Private transport service offers a safe, convenient, and flexible way to travel anywhere within Costa Rica. Private transport can be scheduled anytime you wish and from any airport, hotel, private home or identifiable landmark in Costa Rica. All the vehicles used for private transportation are air conditioned, well-maintained minibuses (passenger vans) driven by reliable and punctual Costa Rican professionals, who are eager to help your group move safely about the country.
Many visitors to Costa Rica make the mistake of underestimating driving distances, driving conditions, and the amount of patience and perseverance required to navigate between destinations. Private transport removes the hassle and stress of navigating on your own, while still being flexible with your travel schedule. The service can be customized to fit whatever your travel needs may be. It also allows more opportunities to enjoy the beautiful scenery and stretch out in the roomy interior, while letting your driver plot the best course.
Another nice feature of private transport is that it allows one hour of free wait time for the journey, giving your group opportunities to pose for photographs, take bathroom breaks, or enjoy a meal. Additionally, with private transport we can customize a scenic adventure for your group to attractions between the travel destinations, such as a short hike in a national park, a visit to a coffee plantation, shopping in a traditional Costa Rican town, or admiring a waterfall. If you are interested in making such an excursion, we would be happy to give you options and pricing information based on your travel route. For unscheduled stops that exceed 1 hour, please keep your local ambassador/driver happy with a $10 payment for each additional hour.
Day 2 (FRIDAY): San Jose
Hotel Quality Real San Jose. Standard, 2 Queen bed(s)
Night 2 / 2
+ City Walk Guided Tour
This 2-hour walking tour takes you to spots around some of San José’s lesser-known attractions. Sign up to get a good look at San José culture.
Your guide will be bilingual, friendly, and well-informed — ask any questions you’d like. Some destinations on this tour include cultural spots, parks, famous boulevards, coffee shops, and outdoor markets.
+ Afternoon class at Body Language
Time: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Day 3 (SATURDAY): Travel from San Jose to Arenal
+ Arenal for 3 nights
One of Costa Rica's most notable natural features is the Arenal Volcano. This impressive volcano resides within the 29,960-acre Arenal Volcano National Park. Although the volcano entered into a resting phase in 2010 – meaning that its eruptions have paused – it is still a stunning sight. Rising above the rainforest that surrounds its base, Arenal frames the skyline with near perfect symmetry. The immediate area hosts a wealth of activities – including whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, hiking and canopy tours – as well as the friendly town of La Fortuna.
Made up mostly of primary rainforest, The Arenal Volcano National Park encompasses four different life zones and harbors a tremendous amount of flora and fauna. In fact, nearly 75% of the total 850 species of birds that have been identified in Costa Rica can be found here, including the resplendent quetzal. Other creatures include two and three toed sloths, white-faced capuchin monkeys, coati, jaguar, deer, and snakes, including the infamous fer-de-lance, parrot snake, and boa constrictor. The plants are just as varied and include guayabo de monte, laurel, cirri, palms, orchids, heliconias, ferns, and bromeliads.
Arenal’s smaller — and much older — sibling, the Chato Volcano (Volcán Chato), adjoins Arenal. This volcano, which resides at a height of 3,740 ft (1,140 m), has been inactive for some 3,500 years and has a crater that’s filled with aqua-blue water. The park has several walking trails and is open from 8 AM to 6 PM. The entrance fee is $6.
The quiet town of La Fortuna is 4 miles (6.4 km) from the Arenal Volcano. It’s 16 miles (26 km) from Ciudad Quesada and 75 miles (120 km) from San Jose. If you’re driving from San José, it’ll take around 3 hours to get here. The town itself is small, central and warm. Its location provides visitors with easy access to the Arenal area and its amenities make staying here pleasant. There are hotels both within and outside of the town, many of which stipple the countryside at the base of the volcano. La Fortuna hosts good places to eat and buy groceries, and has an assortment of banks, shops and bars. The activities within this area are endless. Horseback rides can be made through the nearby hills and whitewater rafting can be done on the Peñas Blancas, Toro and Balsa rivers. Each river is different in both intensity and scenery – participants can choose between leisurely safari floats or exciting Class IV rapids. A variety of other water sports can be enjoyed on Lake Arenal, including canoeing, fishing and kite surfing. Inland diversions include hiking and waterfall rappelling, as well as canopy and hanging bridge tours.
The La Fortuna Waterfall, a breathtaking 230 ft (70 m) cascade that drops into a misty pool, is just 3 miles (5 km) south of La Fortuna and makes for an easy day trip. A short hike (or horseback ride) drops visitors into the base of the pool, where they can swim, take photos and enjoy the scenery. The volcano’s geothermal activity heats dozens of underground water flumes. Local landowners, tapping into this natural source, have created a number of beautiful hot springs. These springs are varied and indulgent (some have waterslides, wet bars and cold pools) and offer visitors a perfect way to end a day in Arenal Volcano.
Botanists, whether professional or amateur, should head to the Arenal Botanical Gardens, which are located a few miles outside of town. Here you’ll find some 2,500 species of tropical plants. Many are rare, including several types of bromeliads, orchids, ferns, and roses. Butterflies and birds flit through the gardens, pausing to perch in a tree or rest on a flower. Although somewhat close to Arenal, the Venado Caves feel like an entirely different planet. Located just 1.9 miles (3 km) outside the town of Venado and a 45-minute drive from La Fortuna, the caves are a spelunking and adventure-seeker’s dream. The 1.5-miles of caves feature stalagmites, stalactites, and subterranean streams. As you explore the caves, you may see bats hanging from the ceiling, sightless fish swimming in the streams, and colorless frogs clinging to the rocks. Nature buffs will enjoy a day trip to the Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, which is set near the border with Nicaragua. Exploring this vast network of wetlands and the huge Caño Negro Lake provides ample opportunities to spot birds and other tropical creatures. Yes, there is something for everyone here. The quaint town, beautiful surroundings and ample activities make Arenal one of the cornerstone destinations of Costa Rica's.
+ Los Lagos. Standard Deluxe , 2 Queen bed(s)
Los Lagos, featuring very comfortable accommodations, is one of a few hotels on the foothills of the Arenal Volcano. Hotel Los Lagos offers jacuzzis fed by natural hot springs, 4 pools with thermal waters and 3 with cold water, water slides, a volcano shaped kids pool, Butterfly Garden, Frog Pond, restaurant, and crocodile farm.
Los Lagos is located just 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the village of La Fortuna, where you can find the best views of the volcano. Also, the Tabacon Hot Springs are located just 5 kilometers (3.3 miles) away. The Standard Rooms offer views of the Arenal Volcano from your room, quiet air conditioning, a hot shower, cable TV, telephone, safety box, small fridge and a veranda with a view of the volcano. Rooms are available with a double bed, double and a single bed or with two double beds.
Superior Rooms are 60% bigger than the Standard with two queen beds and two single roll away beds, Jacuzzi bathtub, shower, patio with sitting area and all amenities of the Standard.
All accommodations feature commanding views of the volcano. The hotel has 5 Standard and 4 Superior rooms which are wheelchair accessible.
Private trails, the Mirador Observatory lookout point, 24 hour security, souvenir shop, restaurant & wet bar, Jacuzzi, pools, and tour desk are also available to guests.
+ Ecoglide Canopy Tour
Located near the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano, the Arenal Ecoglide Canopy Tour offers visitors a fast-flying, adrenalin-filled day of fun.
Come and experience one of Costa Rica's most popular outdoor adventures: the canopy tour. In this tour, the professional staff at Arenal Ecoglide will help you to speed along a number of zip-lines set amidst a gorgeous rainforest. Cruise from one platform to the next, enjoying views that were once only reserved for birds.
The tour is divided into three sections. The first section has 6 cables and 7 platforms, with cable lengths that vary from 10 to 110 meters. The second section has 5 cables and 6 platforms, with lengths ranging from 40 to 160 meters. At the end of this section, you'll find the much-loved Tarzan Swing, where you'll have the opportunity to swing from the trees like Tarzan himself. Following this is the final section of the tour, which has 4 cables and 5 platforms, with lengths ranging from 70 to 430 meters.
Arenal Ecoglide is open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Customers can pick the time that they would like the start the tour.
Weather Policy: Rain does not necessarily mean the tour will be cancelled. It is up to the tour operator to determine if the tour should be canceled due to bad weather. Be prepared and bring a raincoat with you!
What's Included: Transportation from La Fortuna or Tabacon, Tarzan Swing, and free soft drinks.
What To Bring: Long pants, closed-toed shoes or hiking boots, camera, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a rain coat.
Day 4 (SUNDAY): Arenal
Casa Luna Lodge. Standard Deluxe , 2 Queen bed(s)
Night 2 / 3
+ Baldi Hot Springs
Bask in the tranquility of natural hot springs with a tropical cocktail in hand and the Arenal Volcano in plain view at the Baldi Hot Springs. This tropical oasis features 25 different pools, the temperatures increasing as you go up in elevation.
The pools, constructed in a way that preserves the natural beauty of the area, are great miradores (view points) for the volcano on clear days.
Whether treating yourself to the spa, hanging out by one of the swim-up bars or dining in the restaurant, you are sure to find yourself relaxing in a genuine paradise.
What's Included: Entrance fee, showers.
What To Bring: Camera, bathing suit, sandals, insect repellent, cash to pay for locker ($6) and towels ($10 deposit for towel).
Day 5 (MONDAY): Arenal
Day 5 (TUESDAY): Arenal