Costa Rica's Exotic Orchids
Join us for this new tour featuring the country’s flora, especially exotic orchids and other tropical plants
- Smithsonian Journeys to Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
- A Leopard Named "Hollywood"
- Memories of Africa
- Treasuring Life in the Indian Desert
Costa Rica’s rain forests, cloud forests, and pristine beaches are renowned for exotic tropical plants, including elegant orchid species of vibrant color and beauty, all of which serve as a fascinating focus for this new in-depth journey. During a two-night stay in San José, explore Tapantí National Park, home to three newly discovered species of orchids; enjoy birding at CATIE Botanical Garden; and visit Lankester Botanical Garden, with its 3,000 varieties of plants, including the nation’s largest collection of epiphytes and orchids. Then head out into the cloud forests to La Catalina Orchid Garden and spend two nights at Bosque de Paz, where you’ll hike in the private reserve, explore a private waterfall, or join resident naturalists to view orchid specimens.
Beyond orchids, Costa Rica’s botanical kingdom is graced by giant tree ferns, bromeliads, and mosses that cover twisted tree branches and the forest floor, attracting a vibrant mix of hummingbirds, glass frogs, bellbirds, and howler monkeys. Observe many of these species during a day near Arenal Volcano, then relax in the nearby hot springs. At Monteverde, the most complex tropical cloud forest in the New World, featuring six distinct forest types, you’ll visit San Bosco Orchid Garden, one of the country’s largest orchid collections, and Monteverde Orchid Garden with its special hybrid orchids.
Day 1 — U.S., San José
Depart the U.S. for Costa Rica on individual flights. Arrive in San José, where you will meet your guide and transfer to the Bougainvillea Hotel, which is set amidst ten acres of lush tropical gardens. Check-in to the hotel and enjoy dinner. (D)
Day 2 — San José
Begin the day with breakfast at the hotel before venturing to Tapantí National Park. Nestled within the 18 square miles of the park, lie some of world’s most beautiful orchids, including three new Lepanthes species that were discovered here in 2009.Tapantí is still the only known habitat for the new orchid species, all three of which are miniature orchids that do not grow longer than 5 mm.
Following your visit to Tapantí, travel to world-renowned Lankester Botanical Garden, home to 15,000 orchid specimens. Begun in the 1940s by famed British naturalist and orchid enthusiast Charles Lankester, the garden has grown to over 27 acres since being donated to the University of Costa Rica in 1973. The 3,000 plant species that make up the verdant landscape, most of them native to Mesoamerica, include noteworthy collections of epiphytes.
End the day discovering CATIE Botanical Garden, where your senses will be rewarded with the sights of delicate miniature orchids, enormous bromeliads, and 100-year-old Ceiba trees, not to mention the intoxicating scent of the Asian ylang ylang tree, which is featured in perfumes across the world. In addition to the flora, this site is an ideal place to observe birds, mammals, and reptiles native to the area. Return to the Bougainvillea Hotel for the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — San José, Bosque de Paz
Following breakfast, visit La Catalina Orchid Garden, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by wild orchids in bloom. Using the tropical trails throughout the property, learn about orchid cultivation at the demo nursery, enjoy the permanent orchid show room with its multitude of hybrids and species, and relax at one of the water gardens filled with koi fish and turtles. Continue on to Bosque de Paz, where you will spend the afternoon and stay overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Bosque de Paz
Spend the day exploring the 3,000-acre, privately-owned Bosque de Paz Biological Reserve, surrounded by dense rain and cloud forests. Visit the orchid garden with resident naturalists, wander through the signed, cloud forest trails, or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a long, guided hike to a breathtaking waterfall. The reserve limits the number of daily visitors to keep environmental impact to a minimum and to provide guests with a unique and personal experience. Stay in the lodge at Bosque de Paz this evening. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Bosque de Paz, Arenal
This morning, visit Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica’s most active volcano until it entered into a dormant phase in October 2010. Rising from the lush jungle landscape below, Arenal Volcano is truly a sight to behold. The national park surrounding the volcano provides seemingly endless opportunities to view native flora and fauna. From exotic orchids bursting with color to capuchin monkeys swinging from rain forest tree limbs, this scenic area is not to be missed.
Afterwards, check-in to Los Lagos Hotel, your accommodation for the evening, and unwind from the day’s adventure in the hotel’s thermal pool. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Arenal, Monteverde
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before traveling to Monteverde and exploring San Bosco Orchid Garden. This sprawling garden features a wide variety of mini-orchids, including the smallest orchid in the world, and a beautiful bromeliad garden. You’ll also visit Monteverde Orchid Garden with a large collection of more than 425 different orchid species, and a greenhouse with hybrid plants to demonstrate the difference between a flower that grows in the wild and one that grows in a "laboratory.”
Tonight, enjoy your stay at El Establo Hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Monteverde, San José, U.S.
Early this morning, transfer to the airport for individual flights back to the U.S. (B)