Join us on this new active journey to Costa Rica where you can enjoy hiking through rain forests, white-water rafting, kayaking, and snorkeling as you learn about important issues facing our environment. 

 Rafting a river in Costa Rica. Credit: Costa Rica Tourism  Zip-line adventure in Costa Rica  Dart frog in Costa Rica  A brilliantly colored morpho butterfly  Red macaw  White-faced Capuchin monkey  Colorful orchid  Colorful Heliconia   One of many butterfly species of Costa Rica

Costa Rica Adventure

8 days from $5,375

Join us on this new active journey to Costa Rica where you can enjoy hiking through rain forests, white-water rafting, kayaking, and snorkeling as you learn about important issues facing our environment. 


Activity Level 3: Moderate/Active  

Expectations:  This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection and features a schedule of physical activities—including walkinghiking, white-water rafting, zip-lining, kayaking, snorkeling and more—in addition there will be some activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Walks, hikes, and all other activities will take place rain or shine. If you are reasonably fit and can walk and hike from 1 up to 5 miles easily you should be comfortable on this Moderate/Active tour (Level 3).  

Hikes and walks will be taken at a leisurely to active pace over various types of terrain, from well-groomed paths to some more challenging/rocky trails to beaches and through rain forest preserves. A few longer travel days with early morning departures should be expected. Hiking boots, rain gear, and day packs for daily necessities are a must; some travelers may wish to bring hiking poles. Hikes are not long enough to require support vehicles so once a hike is begun it is necessary to finish. Sometimes it is feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel, if desired. During the tour, leisure time is usually limited to the evenings. 

Included activities:  

White-water rafting: Features Class II and Class III rapids that include whitewater, waves and some sudden drops in water levels. Guests will be outfitted and provided a full safety tutorial prior to departing on the river. 3-4 hours with stops. 

Zip-lining: This adventure will require climbing up a steep ladder to a launch platform. You must be able to pull up on your own body weight while on the zipline. Travel across the forest canopy for up to 300 yards and at times up to 60 feet above the forest floor. Weight limit is 250 lbs. 1 hour. There is also an option for a waterfall repelling adventure for the more adventurous/active, details about this option to be provided in your Pre-Tour materials 

Kayaking and snorkeling: You will be outfitted with all equipment and provided a safety tutorial prior to departing on the adventure. Both excursions will take place in calm water. Sun protection will be essential. 3 – 4 hours total. 

Additional included activities: 

Horseback riding: Fully escortedno experience necessary. Participants should be comfortable with riding through rainforest, shallow waterways and along beaches. Some may experience soreness after ride. 2 hours. 


Surfing: Lesson with instructor, includes surf board and rash guards. Activity dependent on weather and ocean conditions which can change rapidly. 2 hours.  

Full details on what to pack and expect on this trip will be included in your Pre-Tour documents. 

Transportation between hotels and lodges will be by small van or motor coach or propeller aircraft. Accommodations on this trip feature comfortable resorts and smaller boutique lodges. The highest elevation on this trip is 3,500 feet. 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, have a strong fitness level, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in from 1 to 4 hours adventures per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.


Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for San Jose, Costa Rica

Depart the U.S. and arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport. Transfer to your hotel for check in, and to unpack and settle in. Gather for a welcome reception, opening remarks and dinner this evening. (R,D)

Day 2 — La Selva Research Station

Gather for breakfast and then depart for La Selva Research Station, which along with Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute in Panama is part of the Organization for Tropical Studies network. Meet with scientists and researchers to learn about the important work being done here. La Selva features more than 2,077 species of plants, 125 species of mammals, 470 species of birds, 48 amphibian species and 87 species of reptiles. La Selva also has some of the longest running research projects in the tropics, with some studies spanning over 40 years. La Selva features an extensive network of paved and dirt trails leading to a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats as well as state-of-the-art laboratories and meeting facilities. There is also an herbarium housing more than 10,000 specimens of dried and pressed plants, fruits and seeds. Enjoy a late lunch at the center then continue on to your accommodations located along the banks of the Sarapiquí River. The lodge is set on 10 acres surrounded by native trees, an old-growth forest, and tropical gardens that attract a dizzying array of bird life. The property also includes a butterfly house, dedicated amphibian retreat and a vegetable garden. (B, L, D)   

Walk/Hike: 1-3 miles, along flat and mostly well-groomed trails, 2-3 hours. 

Day 3 — White-water rafting adventure, Bajos del Toro

Enjoy the early morning at leisure and then meet your guides riverside to depart by raft on a spectacular adventure riding Class II & III rapids down the Rio Sarapiquí. The river flows briskly through lowland rain forest where exotic birds and species of monkeys make their home. A picnic lunch will be served on a private farm set on the river’s edge. Later this afternoon depart the river and continue on to your accommodations, located in the heart of the cloud forest and tucked away among the valleys and waterfalls of picturesque Bajos del Toro, a World Heritage site. (B, L, D)

Rafting Adventure: Fully escorted, no experience necessary, guests will be outfitted with proper gear onsite. Adventure includes white-water, waves and sudden drops in water levels in spots. 3-4 hours with stops.

Day 4 — Zip-lining, Los Bajos Cultural Center, Orchid safari

Enjoy the early morning at leisure then gather for a zip-line adventure through the cloud forest canopy and over the 500-acre El Silencia Reserve (optional). Then visit the Los Bajos Cultural Center to learn more about the thriving local community and their rich traditions. Afterwards, explore the private garden of a local orchid grower and peruse the impressive collection of over 400 orchid species. (B, L, D)    

Walk/Hike: From 1.5 to 2 miles, mostly well-groomed paths. 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on activity.

Zip Lining: Safety tutorial and equipment provided, steep ladder climb to launch platform, must be able to pull up on full body weight, travel 300 yards and up to 60 feet above ground in places. Weight limit 250 lbs. 1.5 hours. There is also a waterfall repelling option.

Day 5 — El Silencio to Osa Peninsula

After breakfast depart El Silencio and board your flight to Puerto Jimenez and the Osa Peninsula. The Osa Peninsula is a lesser visited area of Costa Rica that has been a favorite stop for true outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. In 1975, Costa Rica placed one-third of the area in to a protected status as Corcovado National Park. Today, much of the Osa Peninsula is protected as either national park or forest reserve. Upon arrival, take a boat cruise through the calm waters of the Golfo Dulce, then arrive at your hotel situated on the southern tip of the peninsula at Cabo Matapalo. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing and exploring the hotel grounds and trails that lead through the forest to hidden pools and waterfalls. Look for monkeys and also scarlet macaws. typically seen flying in pairs. This evening gather for dinner and lively discussions about the day’s adventures. (B, L, D)  

Walk/Hike: From .5 to 3 miles. Trails meander directly from lodge with options for leisurely or more challenging hikes. Trails can be flat/groomed or rocky and steep in places. 15 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Day 6 — Osa Peninsula, animal sanctuary, botanical gardens, optional afternoon activities

After an early breakfast depart by private boat for a dawn excursion to view wildlife. Spend time at the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary and learn more about Costa Rica’s native wildlife. The sanctuary is home to over 70 animals that had been orphaned or injured. Then cruise to Casa Orquideas, a beautifully landscaped tropical garden with hundreds of species of ornamental and edible plants, where the owners provide an in-depth tour. Return to the lodge in the afternoon for activities including surfing instruction or horseback riding. There are also additional services including spa treatments and massages available at an additional cost. (B, L, D)  

Walk/Hike: From 1.5 to 2 miles through wildlife sanctuary and landscaped gardens, mostly groomed trails, 2.5 hours. Short boat cruise.

Surfing: Lesson included, dependent upon ocean conditions, 2 hours or Horseback ride: Fully escorted, taken at a leisurely pace, through rain forest and on beach, no experience necessary.

Day 7 — Osa Peninsula, kayaking and snorkeling

This morning gather for a kayaking excursion followed by snorkeling. After instruction put-in and glide through the calm, wildlife-rich waters of a mangrove forest near to the lodge. Along the way, look for marmoset monkeys, dolphins and many species of birds.. After a picnic lunch, paddle to a spectacular snorkeling site where a mask and fins will be provided. Spend time wading in the waters over coral reefs teaming with life and where different species of fish with a range of spectacular colors are at home.  Return to the lodge this afternoon, then gather for a festive farewell dinner. (B, L, D)  

Kayaking: Safety tutorial and equipment provided, calm water. 2 hours.

Snorkeling: Safety tutorial and equipment provided, calm water. 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Day 8 — Depart for San Jose, return flight to the U.S.

Depart the lodge this morning and drive to Puerto Jimenez. Board a local flight back to San José in time to meet your connecting international flight to the U.S. (B, Meals aloft)  

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)