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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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.
Bob Szaro grew up fascinated by nature and started bird-watching while in grade school. He has an enthusiastic passion for different cultures, architecture, art, natural history, and photography. His extensive travels and studies have taken him to more than 100 countries. From the warmth of African plains to the frigid Arctic he has had the opportunity to enjoy and study an incredible variety of animals and plants and their interaction with the human cultures dependent upon them.
His research has included, biodiversity conservation, bird community dynamics, climate change, forest stresses on mountain ecosystems, ecological approaches to natural resource management, desert and riparian plant ecosystems, and fish, wildlife, and forest resources throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Bob retired in 2008 as Chief Scientist for Biology for the US Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. Bob received a Dual Bachelors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Texas A&M University (1970), a Master’s Degree in Zoology from the University of Florida (1972), and a Doctoral Degree in Ecology from Northern Arizona University (1976). He also completed the Senior Executive Fellows program at Harvard University (1993). Bob currently serves as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution on biodiversity, climate change, and tiger conservation.
Francisco is a senior conservation biologist and the Director of the Smithsonian Center for Conservation and Sustainability. He is passionate for natural history, multi-cultural experiences, art, architecture and photography. He has traveled and worked professionally in nearly 100 countries from the Alaskan tundra to the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, Central Africa and Southeast Asia. His research and conservation programs have included critical and endangered species and ecosystems, forest vital signs monitoring programs, climate change, impact mitigation of large development projects, and design and implementation of sustainable mega-infrastructure projects. He has numerous scientific and technical publications. Francisco has extensive experience developing partnerships among academia, NGOs, and the private and public sectors to deliver conservation solutions to complex sustainable development challenges worldwide. He is a certified coach and advisor to corporate leadership and provides technical expertise and policy advice on projects on the ground. Francisco received his undergraduate degree in Biology at the Central University of Venezuela, in his birth country, and his Master and PhD in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. He also completed the Executive Leadership Program with the Federal Executive Institute and the Smithsonian Leadership Development Program. In addition, he is an adjunct professor at George Mason University in conservation and sustainability.
Howard Topoff and Carol Simon are biologists specializing in the fields of Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology. After receiving their Ph.D. degrees, they spent their scientific careers as professors at The City University of New York, and as Research Associates at The American Museum of Natural History. Their field research on animal behavior is conducted in Central and South America, Africa, and the southwestern corner of the United States. As study leaders on Natural History tours for over 35 years, they have developed an extensive series of educational and entertaining multimedia presentations, which they offer to vacationing guests who enjoy location-specific enrichment programs.
As a U.S. diplomat who specialized in political and economic affairs, and as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Hugh Neighbour’s duties took him almost everywhere in Latin America, as well as elsewhere in the world. He brings over 40 years of experience, mostly overseas, earning the Secretary of State’s Career Achievement Award. Hugh has never tired of travel and meeting people – he loves to share his enthusiasm.
Hugh became an instant fan of Costa Rica, appreciating how unique and special it is, when in the 1970s he traveled by public bus from one end of Central America to the other. Having lived and worked in Central America as a diplomat, he returned to Costa Rica many times and continues to do so.
Since retiring from the U.S. State Department in 2010, Hugh has worked as a consultant in both Washington and the Latin America/Caribbean region, served as an official observer for several elections overseas, and lectured aboard high-end cruise ships in waters off Latin America and elsewhere. Several times a year, Hugh teaches Latin America area studies to select groups at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center.
Patty Hostiuck has roamed the globe as a naturalist for nearly three decades, seeking out wildlife-rich niches, investigating breathtaking landscapes, and sharing her insights with thoughtful travelers. Her academic background in Biology and Geography shape a perspective that spotlights the importance of place, the abiding interdependence of living things, and the critical influence of nature on human cultures. She has served as a National Forest Ranger and National Park Ranger, worked extensively leading eco-travel and expedition trips from the tropics to both polar regions, and has led, on 7 continents, over 100 Smithsonian Journeys from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. Patty has an amazing breadth of knowledge and her passion to untangle nature’s secrets through her engaging presentations and informal commentary make her a favorite among Smithsonian travelers.