Costa Rica's Natural Treasures
Discover exotic flora and fauna as you traverse treetop bridges, float along the Tempisque River, trek to a volcano, and take guided walks at Monteverde's biological reserve.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
What are you waiting for? Go now!”
This was an exceptional first time tour group experience. Smithsonian gets an A+ for combining learning and fun as a way to see new lands.”
The diverse perspectives and knowledge shared by and with the fellow travelers makes each trip unique, special, and memorable in ways words cannot express.”
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David Clapp is a respected naturalist and teacher who worked extensively in land conservation and habitat management. David has taught at Northeastern University, lectured on strategies for land protection in the United States, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and consulted for an array of governmental and conservation agencies. He spent his professional career working for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and has led Smithsonian Journeys adventures for about thirty years. His research has included studies in avian populations and breeding birds of various species. Although natural history is his primary focus, David is interested in cultural history, geology, and evolution. He has been involved in ecotourism for more than thirty years and has led tours throughout the world. Especially through his involvement with ecotourism he has been able to train naturalists, provide natural history materials, and work with conservation organizations worldwide. His lectures run the gamut from plate tectonics and the history of the world to flight and migration as it relates to sites being visited. A naturalist of unusual breadth and depth, he has led Smithsonian Journeys practically from pole to pole. David is also an extremely gifted photographer. He is a popular expert and our travelers consistently express their appreciation for his efforts and enthusiasm.
Dr. Nina Zitani bonded with nature as a young child growing up in a small historic New Jersey town with giant trees and lots of bugs. During her first field season as an entomology graduate student she fell in love with tropical forests and their myriad creatures at the Área de Conservación Guanacaste in Costa Rica. After working throughout Costa Rica for nearly a decade, she began teaching a field course in the upper Amazon basin of Ecuador. She holds a Master of Science and Doctorate in systematic entomology from the University of Wyoming. Her published research includes discovering 15 new insect species of Costa Rica. Other scientists have named six new insect species in her honor. Currently she resides in London, Ontario where she is an advocate for the conservation of biodiversity both locally and globally. In 2011 she launched a popular website about biodiversity gardening, or gardening to restore biodiversity using 100% native plants. Monarch butterflies, Giant Swallowtails, and pollinators of all shapes and sizes frequent her family’s garden each year. She has been teaching people of all ages for nearly 25 years, and is a part-time Assistant Professor at the University of Western Ontario. “Dr. Z”, as she is known to her students, relishes any opportunity to show scientists and non-scientists alike the astonishing biodiversity – plants, fungi and animals of all sorts – found in Neotropical forests.
Don Wilson is Curator Emeritus of Mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and was named senior scientist in January 2000. Don was director of the Smithsonian's Biodiversity Programs for ten years. A distinguished mammalogist and an internationally recognized authority on bats, he earned his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico. He is the author of over 240 scientific publications and 25 books, including the highly acclaimed Series Handbook of Mammals of the World. For the last 40 years, his work has taken him around the world conducting field work and research. He has led tours for Smithsonian Journeys to most of the world's greatest natural history destinations, from Antarctica to Africa. Don loves to share his passion for the natural world, and his easygoing nature, sense of humor, and excellent presentations have earned him much praise and a loyal following from Smithsonian travelers.
Jim Karr is professor emeritus of aquatic and fishery sciences with the University of Washington, as well as a former professor of biology and adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering, environmental health, and public affairs. He has been a naturalist since boyhood. After earning a B.S. in fish and wildlife biology, and a Ph.D. in zoology, he traveled the globe’s tropical regions, studying forest birds in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea. As a professor at Purdue University, the University of Illinois, and Virginia Tech—and as deputy director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama—Jim took his love of natural history beyond tropical ecology to the ecology of rivers, streams, and other fresh waters. He developed a tool, used worldwide, for looking at the biology of waters to assess their health. During the 1990s, Jim directed UW’s Institute for Environmental Studies, and his teaching and research broadened still more. Since then, he has focused on environmental policy and the ties binding human with nonhuman nature. Now, with more than 300 published works behind him, Jim continues to be a naturalist and teacher around the world with Smithsonian Journeys.
Dennis became enamored of wildlife as a youngster in his native Costa Rica. Living in Central America, it is not difficult to see how biology could become the favorite science for any nature enthusiast, as there are several thousand species in the region. He has a passion for bird sounds and has a collection of them — recently he worked on the creation of a DVD that mixes the piano with the sounds of the birds.
His experience and knowledge has taken him to lead groups in other countries in Central America, South America, Africa, New Zealand, South East Asia, Australia, Russia, Alaska, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and the Caribbean. When he is not lecturing, Dennis travels to remote areas in Central America explaining to young students how fragile the ecosystems are where they live. He also works on several projects to monitor endangered species in order to improve conservation efforts.