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.

Starting at: $3,695 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Arenal Volcano  The luscious cloud forest from the forest floor  Hanging bridge in the canopy  The elusive Resplendent Quetzal found in Monteverde   Oak Tiger Butterfly. Credit: Phil Parsons  White-faced Capuchin monkey  A brilliantly colored morpho butterfly  One of many butterfly species of Costa Rica  Male Crowned Woodnymph Hummingbird  Costa Rica hummingbird  One of Costa Rica's delightful hummingbirds  Dart frog in Costa Rica  A sloth at home in the tree tops  Red-eyed tree frog crawling between leaves in the jungle  Colorful Heliconia   One of Costa Rica's many species of orchids  Costa Rica orchid  Poás Volcano  Costa Rica coffee field  Beach along the coast of Guanacaste  Sunset in Guanacaste

Costa Rica's Natural Treasures

11 days from $3,695 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

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.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

What are you waiting for? Go now! 

- Judith H.

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.

- Gretchen G.

The diverse perspectives and knowledge shared by and with the fellow travelers makes each trip unique, special, and memorable in ways words cannot express.

- Stephanie B.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Mawamba Lodge

Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Nestled amidst gardens in the rainforest, Mawamba Lodge occupies a 15-acre waterfront property on the Tortuguero Lagoon with direct beach access. The rustic 58-room lodge offers a restaurant and bar, nature trails, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, whirlpool, outdoor pool, sand volleyball court, souvenir shop, and laundry service. Each guest room includes a private bath, ceiling fan, and in-room safe.

*Please note: A limited number of hair dryers are available at reception. 

Number of nights: 2

InterContinental Costa Rica (Superior First Class)

San Jose, Costa Rica

The hotel is well situated in Escazu, one of San Jose’s exclusive suburbs, and located within the Multiplaza Mall complex (close to shops and restaurants). The 372-room hotel has four restaurants, lounges, spa, fitness center, and heated outdoor pool (surrounded by tropical gardens). Each of the guest rooms has air conditioning, private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, complimentary in-room wi-fi, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Arenal Manoa

Arenal Region, Costa Rica

The Hotel Arenal Monoa offers panoramic views of Arenal Volcano while surrounded by meditative gardens and a Costa Rican farm. La Palma River runs through the property, nourishing a gallery forest complete with a vast selection of bird and plant life. The 80-room hotel features a restaurant and bar, walking gardens, Jacuzzi, spa, and outdoor pool with swim-up bar. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

El Establo Mountain Hotel

Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Nestled in Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest, El Establo Mountain Hotel offers outstanding views and is just minutes from Monteverde Reserve. Amenities at the 155-room lodge include hiking trails, canopy tours, two indoor pools, tennis courts, fitness center, spa with massage and beauty treatments, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, and two restaurants and two bars. Comfortable guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, safe-deposit box, coffee-making facilities, TV, phone, and private balcony or terrace overlooking the Gulf of Nicoya. The rooms are not air conditioned since the typically cool “mountain” climate at Monteverde rarely requires it.

Number of nights: 2

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa (Superior First Class)

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Located just ten miles outside of the town of Tamarindo in a beautiful ocean-front setting, this 310-room hacienda style resort hotel has multiple restaurants, lounges, spa, fitness center, heated outdoor pool, and hiking/jogging trails. Each of the guest rooms has air conditioning, private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, minibar, coffee and tea-making facilities, TV, balcony or terrace, phone, and complimentary WiFi internet access.  

Number of nights: 3

Tour Extension

Tortuguero National Park 4 Days, 3 Nights

Encounter exceptional bio-diversity, from rainforest to marsh, where fresh water meets the sea to form canals, lagoons, and wetlands, and also to provide an important turtle nesting reserve. Your tour extension price includes:

  • Round-trip transfers San Jose/Tortuguero by van and boat
  • Accommodations for 3 nights: 2 nights in Tortuguero National Park at Mawamba Lodge (First Class); 1 night in San Jose at InterContinental Costa Rica (Superior First Class)
  • 8 meals: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Included sightseeing: Tortuguero town and Caribbean Conservation Center; two boat safaris along the Tortuguero canals
  • Services of expert staff and guides at Mawamba Lodge

InterContinental Costa Rica
The hotel is well situated in Escazu, one of San Jose’s exclusive suburbs, and located within the Multiplaza Mall complex (close to shops and restaurants). The 372-room hotel has four restaurants, lounges, spa, fitness center, and heated outdoor pool (surrounded by tropical gardens). Each of the guest rooms has air conditioning, private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, complimentary in-room wi-fi, TV, and phone.

Accommodations in Costa Rica:
Your accommodations in Tortuguero will be at an environmentally compatible lodge that is comfortable but not luxurious. Although you may not have air-conditioning, television, or telephones in your room, most travelers find the accommodations to be an excellent complement with the natural environment.

Activity Level

Activity Level 3: Moderate / Active


Expectations: Most trips will feature long touring days, many full-day excursions, and a full and active itinerary with a faster pace and longer distances. Some tours may have activities with higher intensity and more active choices/options. Excursions require standing and walking for extended periods of time over more difficult terrain (cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, limited or no access to elevators, muddy/slippery walking/hiking trails), and walking to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Specific itineraries may feature hiking, use of local transportation, extended overnight train travel, extensive use of Zodiac crafts or other smaller ship conveyances, or multiple internal plane rides. Some itineraries may require early morning departures and later evening returns. Travelers may be in remote and/or rugged regions, and may be touring at higher altitudes with steep ascents/descents. Leisure time may be limited (sometimes only in the later evenings). Certain tours feature more active excursions (such as moderate hiking, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, bicycling, rafting, or kayaking), though another choice may be offered for an alternate skill level. Walking/hiking tours may feature up to six-mile walks/hikes.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Testimonials

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

What are you waiting for? Go now! 

- Judith H.

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.

- Gretchen G.

The diverse perspectives and knowledge shared by and with the fellow travelers makes each trip unique, special, and memorable in ways words cannot express.

- Stephanie B.
Reading List
The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications)
By: Fiona A. Reid, Twan Leenders, Jim Zook, Robert Dean
This full-color field guide is an indispensable companion to the most popular neotropical ecotourism destination: Costa Rica. Featuring all the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods that one is likely to see on a trip to the rainforest (as well as those secretive creatures such as the jaguar that are difficult to glimpse), The Wildlife of Costa Rica is the guide to have when encountering trogons, tapirs, and tarantulas.In addition to providing details for identifying animals along with interesting facts about their natural history, this guide offers tips for seeing them in the wild. Costa Rica, a peaceful nation with many and diverse animal species, is one of the best places in the world for wildlife watching and nature study. It has an excellent system of national parks and reserves, a wide choice of ecolodges, and many professionally trained tourist guides. It is possible to leave the capital city of San José and, just a few hours later, visit a high-elevation cloud forest, dense rainforest, savanna-like plain, or coastal habitat, each with a unique collection of animal species.This new lightweight field guide provides nature enthusiasts visiting Costa Rica with the best introduction to the country's amazing diversity of wildlife. It is the first general field guide to Costa Rica to combine the most sought-after features:•treatment of all major phyla in the country;•coverage of the animals most likely and most desirable to be seen;•more than 600 detailed illustrations integrated with the text (the preferred method of animal identification in the wild);•full species accounts including ID points, range and habitat, size, and behaviors;•a wealth of natural history information, including more than 20 photographic natural history features; and•tips for seeing animals.
Wild Costa Rica: The Wildlife and Landscapes of Costa Rica (The MIT Press)
By: Adrian Hepworth
An exploration of the most biologically diverse country on the planet, with more than 200 stunning color photographs.The small Central American country of Costa Rica―less than one-eighth the size of California―boasts the highest density of plant and animal species in the world. Its wild and rugged landscapes include dense rainforests where jaguars roam, a volcano that spews rivers of molten lava, and beaches as unspoiled as they were when Christopher Columbus first anchored his ships off the Caribbean coast in 1502. Costa Rica's rich biodiversity is the result of a hugely varied topography that creates a wide range of natural habitats, and of the presence of animals and plants native to both North and South America. In Wild Costa Rica, photographer Adrian Hepworth explores the natural riches of Costa Rica, providing engaging reports from the field and more than 200 stunning color photographs. We learn about Costa Rica's rainforest, cloudforest, and paramo (high, treeless plain); the abundance of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects these habitats support; and the country's network of protected areas―a system of parks, reserves, and refuges that makes up over twenty percent of Costa Rica's land. These areas―including such flagship wildlife-watching locations as Tortuguero and Corcovado―attract more than a million visitors every year. The money generated by responsible eco-tourism is central to the survival of Costa Rica's wild places. Hepworth's photographs show us breathtaking vistas and introduce us to distinctive native wildlife, including the scarlet macaw, the resplendent quetzal, the three-toed sloth, and spider and howler monkeys. Wild Costa Rica gives us a fascinating picture of the most biologically diverse country in the world.
Costa Rica: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)
By: Barbara Ras, Oscar Arias
Journey into the Costa Rican imagination through twenty-six remarkable stories, selected and organized regionally for the curious traveler. Here, for the first time in English, the best of Costa Rica's writers conjure the country's allure and vitality, its coffee fields and palm groves, cicadas and songbirds, shrouded mountains and blazing savannas, while telling stories unique to Costa Rican life. Contributors include Alfredo Aguilar, Fernando Durán Ayanegui, Alfonso Chase, Quince Duncan, Fabián Dobles, Louis Ducoudray, Carlos Luis Fallas, Mario Gonzáles Feo, Joaquín Gutiérrez, Carlos Salazar Herrera, Max Jiménez, Carmen Lyra, Carmen Naranjo, Yolanda Oreamuno, Abel Pacheco, Julieta Pinto, Uriel Quesada, Samuel Rovinski, José León Sánchez, and Rima de Vallbona.
Costa Rica - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
By: Jane Koutnik
Costa Rica is renowned for its tropical beauty, the warmth and charm of the “Ticos”—its people’s own name for themselves—and its political stability. This “Switzerland of the Americas” is widely regarded as an oasis of democracy in turbulent Central America. Since the first edition of Culture Smart! Costa Rica was published in 2005, however, there have been some important changes and, with rapid economic development, some growing pains. Over the past few years there has been a movement of population to the towns of the Central Valley. Higher education is now the norm for young Ticos, and the middle class has expanded—but so has the gap between rich and poor. Tourism took a dive after the 2009 recession, and the national debt has grown, while the arrival of multinationals and significant Chinese investment has been welcomed. Unemployment has risen, people are prepared to go on strike more readily, and there is a general disillusionment with politicians. In the face of mounting difficulties the Ticos remain remarkably peaceable, relaxed, and fun-loving. Their enthusiasm for life is seen as much in their passion for soccer as in their demonstrations in support of human and political rights. Culture Smart! Costa Rica explores and explains the complex human realities of modern Costa Rican life. Armed with this information, you will be better equipped to understand your hosts and to enjoy your visit to this beguiling and beautiful country to the full.
Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary
By: Lonely Planet, Thomas Kohnstamm
Lonely Planet: The world's #1 phrasebook publisher* Lonely Planet's Costa Rican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Costa Rican Spanish phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Discuss the wildlife with the locals, banter in Coast Rican slang and bargain like a pro; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now! Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation! Feel at ease with essential tips on culture, manners, idioms and multiple meanings Order with confidence, explain food allergies, and try new foods with the menu decoder Save time and hassles with vital phrases at your fingertips Never get stuck for words with the 3500-word two-way, quick-reference dictionary Be prepared for both common and emergency travel situations with practical phrases and terminology Meet friends with conversation starter phrases Get your message across with easy-to-use pronunciation guides Inside Lonely Planet's Costa Rican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary: Full-color throughout User-friendly layout organized by travel scenario categories Convenient features Listen For - phrases you may hear Look For - phrases you may see on signs Shortcuts - easy-to-remember alternatives to the full phrases Covers Basics - time, dates, numbers, amounts, pronunciation, reading tips, grammar rules Practical - travel with kids, disabled travelers, sightseeing, business, banking, post office, internet, phones, repairs, bargaining, accommodations, directions, border crossing, transport Social - meeting people, interests, feelings, opinions, going out, romance, culture, activities, weather Safe Travel - emergencies, police, doctor, chemist, dentist, symptoms, conditions Food - ordering, at the market, at the bar, dishes, ingredients The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Costa Rican Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary, a pocket-sized comprehensive language guide, provides on-the-go language assistance; great for language students and travellers looking to interact with locals and immerse themselves in local culture. Check out our Fast Talk Phrasebook mobile app for on-the-go language needs. (Available languages: German, Latin Spanish, European Spanish, French, and Italian.) About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves. The world awaits! *#1 phrasebook publisher. Source: Nielsen Bookscan UK, US & AUS
The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
By: Mavis Hiltunen Biesanz, Richard Biesanz, Karen Zubris Biesanz
Written with the perspective of more than half a century of first-hand observation, this unparalleled social and cultural history describes how Costa Rica's economy, government, education and health-care systems, family structures, religion, and other institutions have evolved, and how this evolution has affectedCand reflectedCpeople's daily lives, beliefs, and their values. The authors are particularly concerned with change and continuity since the economic crisis of the early 1980s and the structural adjustment that followed. Providing a comprehensive introduction to a country they know well, the Biesanzes also contribute astutely to an understanding of the reciprocal influence of structural adjustment and national culture.
A Brief History of Central America
By: Hector Perez-Brignoli
This is the first interpretive history of Central America by a Central American historian to be published in English. Anyone with an interest in current events in the region will find here an insightful and well-written guide to the history of its five national states―Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Traces of a common past invite us to make generalizations about the region, even to posit the idea of a Central American nation. But, as Hector Perez-Brignoli shows us, we can learn more from a comparative approach that establishes both the points of convergence and the separate paths taken by the five different countries of Central America.The author offers a concise overview of the region's history from the sixteenth century to the present, beginning with human and cultural geography in the first chapter and ending with the present crisis in the last. He deals with the fundamental themes and problems of the area: the characteristics of the colonial heritage, independence and the crisis of the Federal Republic, the formation of nation-states during the nineteenth century, and the development of export agriculture based on coffee and bananas. The narrative moves finally into the twentieth century to look at the growing impoverishment that multiplies inequalities and leads to the shipwreck of liberal democracy. The case of Costa Rica, exceptional in more ways than one, receives special attention.
Volcanoes
By: Richard V. Fisher, Grant Heiken, Jeffrey Hulen
Whenever a volcano threatens to erupt, scientists and adventurers from around the world flock to the site in response to the irresistible allure of one of nature's most dangerous and unpredictable phenomena. In a unique book probing the science and mystery of these fiery features, the authors chronicle not only their geologic behavior but also their profound effect on human life. From Mount Vesuvius to Mount St. Helens, the book covers the surprisingly large variety of volcanoes, the subtle to conspicuous signs preceding their eruptions, and their far-reaching atmospheric consequences. Here scientific facts take on a very human dimension, as the authors draw upon actual encounters with volcanoes, often through firsthand accounts of those who have witnessed eruptions and miraculously survived the aftermath. The book begins with a description of the lethal May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens--complete with an explanation of how safety officials and scientists tried to predict events, and how unsuspecting campers and loggers miles away struggled against terrifying blasts of ash, stone, and heat. The story moves quickly to the ways volcanoes have enhanced our lives, creating mineral-rich land, clean thermal energy, and haunting landscapes that in turn benefit agriculture, recreation, mining, and commerce. Religion and psychology embroider the account, as the authors explore the impact of volcanoes on the human psyche through tales of the capricious volcano gods and attempts to appease them, ranging from simple homage to horrific ritual sacrifice. Volcanoes concludes by assisting readers in experiencing these geological phenomena for themselves. An unprecedented "tourist guide to volcanoes" outlines over forty sites throughout the world. Not only will travelers find information on where to go and how to get there, they will also learn what precautions to take at each volcano. Tourists, amateur naturalists, and armchair travelers alike will find their scientific curiosity whetted by this informative and entertaining book.
Nature of the Rainforest: Costa Rica and Beyond (Zona Tropical Publications)
By: Adrian Forsyth
A Zona Tropical Publication"The words 'tropical rainforest' may conjure up vistas populated by jaguars, brilliant macaws, and flowers amid the grandeur of towering buttressed trees. But the eager, expectant visitor is not regaled with the sight of charismatic vertebrates, gaudy birds, and luminous orchids. In the rainforest, close encounters with life that moves are usually rare but brilliant episodes; one is bedazzled for an instant and then left alone in the quiet greenery. Under such conditions, one must see the episode as part of a process; tracing the connections between organisms is the essence of rainforest appreciation."―Nature of the RainforestNature of the Rainforest is a breathtaking tour of an environment that is the pinnacle of biodiversity and evolutionary sophistication by an award-winning author and two photographers who love the rainforest, understand its intricacies, and have spent considerable time there documenting its wildlife and complexity. Adrian Forsyth draws on four decades of personal encounters with the animals of the rainforest―including poison-dart frogs, three-toed sloths, bushmasters, and umbrellabirds―as a starting point to communicate key ecological topics such as biodiversity, coevolution, rarity, chemical defense, nutrient cycling, and camouflage. The luminous photographs capture stunning and rare creatures in action, including the now- extinct golden toad mating, a jaguar on the prowl, and the hermit hummingbird feeding. The behaviors and characteristics of the rainforest inhabitants featured here not only illustrate the text but also advance the scientific narrative and exemplify the critical importance of conservation. Thematic chapters are interspersed with four chapters devoted to specific habitats and regions of Costa Rica and Peru, areas with some of the most diverse arrays of plant and animal species in the world. The result is an exuberant celebration of the rainforest in text and images.
Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America
By: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata
A look at the natural history of tropical rain forests in South America, covers insects, birds, animals, and plants
The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide (Zona Tropical Publications)
By: Richard Garrigues
This is the one compact, portable, and user-friendly field guide the novice or experienced birder needs to identify birds in the field in the diverse habitats found in Costa Rica. It features descriptions and illustrations of all 903 species definitely known from Costa Rica, including pelagics and species regular to Cocos Island. Fifty-six of these species are placed in a "Rarities" section that includes accidentals, rarer pelagics, and species that have not been reported in more than twenty years.The detailed full-color illustrations show identifying features―including plumage differences among males, females, and juveniles―and views of birds in flight wherever pertinent.Robert Dean has supplied more than 360 new illustrations, including sixty-four species that are illustrated for the first time in this edition. These include recent additions to the country list, pelagic species, Cocos Island species, and all accidentals recorded from the Costa Rican mainland. Range maps and nomenclature have been updated for this edition, which also has a new user-friendly organizational scheme and an alphabetical quick-find index of groups on the inside back cover.
Costa Rica: A Journey through Nature (Zona Tropical Publications)
By: Comstock Publishing Associates
Adrian Hepworth's Costa Rica: A Journey through Nature takes readers on a spectacular photographic journey through one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. Above a trail, a puma stands majestically on a tree limb surveying the forest below; an iridescent blue butterfly flutters through the air; the jewel-like feathers of a resplendent quetzal sparkle in a cloud forest; a female sea snake and her newly born offspring struggle across a beach under a relentless sun; and early morning light reveals a turtle spraying clouds of sand over its nest.The second edition of this book includes over 100 new photographs, new maps, a new introduction, and updated text throughout. Bringing together dramatic images and informative descriptions, this book provides a remarkable account of wild animals in Costa Rica, their behavior, and the sublime landscapes that they inhabit.
The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America
By: David Wallace
Central America is a fascinating evolutionary artifact. Three million years ago, the Panama land bridge emerged as a link between what is now North and South America, and as flora and fauna traversed this great bridge between worlds, they cross-fertilized extensively and one of the Earth's most rich and varied environments developed. The Monkey's Bridge is the story of this extraordinary environment. The culmination of ten years of research and travel, the book combines a vibrant travelogue with personal insights on the landscapes, cultures, and ecosystems of Central America. David Rains Wallace creates an astounding portrait of a captivating part of the world.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Paper Folded)
By: Smithsonian Journeys
Swiftmaps is proud to partner with Smithsonian Journeys to bring a new and exciting World Map series to the American marketplace. Featuring eye-catching bold and vivid colors complemented with rich vintage tan ocean tones that will make this the perfect reference piece --- sure to stand-out and highlight any home or business wall. The precise detail and digital accuracy shows color-matching visual shaded 3D relief and other physical features without sacrificing the maps readability. Now printed on high-quality 80 lb. paper and professionally FOLDED in a compact 8x10 inch size. FEATURES: 1) Africa centered allowing viewers to see continents complete and intact 2) Clearly labeled country and city names for easy location 3) Latitude and longitude indications 4) Shaded relief of ocean and land topography 4) Desirable Miller Projection. The Smithsonian Journeys wall map series serve not only as a handy reference piece, but as an eye-catching accent for any room or office. NOTE: each map is professionally folded to 8x10 inches and when unfolded the map is 24 inches high and 36 inches wide.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Smithsonian Journeys includes an on-tour Provided Insurance Plan through Travel Guard with the price of your tour. This travel insurance plan includes On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only, not including U.S. Territories). Travel must be more than 100 miles from the Insured’s primary residence.

In addition, you may want to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment from unforeseen events, such as missed flight connections, lost luggage, and cancelled plans. There are many plans you can consider. For your convenience, you may visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1.800.208.6142 to learn more.

Terms and conditions

Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Included in the Tour Cost

  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys expert, tour director and local guides throughout the tour
  • All gratuities for the expert, tour director, on-tour guides and drivers
  • On-tour medical evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), emergency medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. residents only)
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad (for air inclusive guests)
  • All on-tour transportation including flights within the itinerary, unless otherwise noted
  • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
  • Meals, as noted in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner)
  • All sightseeing and visits as noted in each itinerary
  • Airfare to/from your departure city, airline taxes, surcharges, and fees, which are subject to change until final payment is made (for air inclusive guests only)

What Is Not Included in the Tour Cost

  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • Optional travel insurance, including cancellation/delay/lost baggage insurance (learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys)
  • Personal items, unless otherwise stated, such as wine, liquors, a-la-carte orders
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operator in making any individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour
  • Airline baggage and other airline fees and associated taxes, unless noted in Tour description
  • Transfers and baggage handling abroad when purchasing “land only” package
  • Communication Charges (e.g.: phone, internet, etc.)
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included
  • Airfare from your hometown to your departure city (for air inclusive guests only).

Registration
Space is reserved in the order of receipt of phone or web reservations.

To submit a request for a reservation, please order using our secure online process, or please call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Cultural Travel Specialist, Mon-Fri 9 am – 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time).

Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour. You will be notified of your status when your request has been received and processed. Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of most tours. Some tours are more restrictive; please see individual tour pages for these exceptions.

Please note: No new registrations can be accepted within 30 days of the tour.

To complete your request, the following is necessary:
 

Required Information

For all international departures, passport information including the following, in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program as well as by our international travel partners: your full name as it appears on your passport, date of birth, and gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov). In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.
 

Payments
Deposit of $500 per person, per tour, payable by check to the tour operator or by major credit card, is required to reserve a space on a tour program. Deposits are applied to payment of the program price.

Please note: Balance due upon invoicing at least 95 days prior to the program. If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration
Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered a “late registration” and must be subject to special confirmation. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card or by check and sent by overnight mail to the tour operator before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full.

Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the program within the designated late registration period for that program.

For additional information, please call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Cultural Travel Specialist, Mon-Fri 9 am – 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or visit www.SmithsonianJourneys.org/Contact.

A Note About Costs
Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change. Should actual enrollments fall significantly below minimum numbers, a surcharge may be added. Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.). Details and costs will be advised prior to departure. 

Wait List
If the program(s) of your choice are fully subscribed, you will be placed on a wait list. If you choose to withdraw from the wait list, please notify us.

Please note that we are unable to keep you apprised of your status on the wait list. We will call you only if a space becomes available, but you are welcome to call us at your convenience to inquire about your status at 855-330-1542.

Cancellation and Refund Policy
Per person cancellation fees are based on date of notice to Smithsonian Journeys.

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking (if not within final payment date): full refund.
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking: $500 retained (entire deposit).
  • Final payment due: 95 days prior to departure.
  • Cancellations made less than 95 days prior to departure: no refund.
  • Cancellation by the Smithsonian: full refund.
  • No refund for unused portions of the tour, including but not limited to, missed meals, hotel nights, and sightseeing.

Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.

If your flights are delayed or if for any reason you are prevented from joining the tour on the scheduled departure date and time, or if you choose to leave the tour early, we cannot provide a full or partial refund or credit toward a future tour.

Smithsonian Journeys reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrollment and when a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is issued for the destination.

Air Service

For tours that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown.  Airfares from other cities are available upon request.  Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.  If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense.  For tours that include round-trip international airfare, the tour operator  will be happy to help with arrangements. Please note that seat assignments for your international flights is usually done at airport check-in. The tour operator is unable to guarantee any seat assignments.

When planning our tours that include international round-trip airfare, the tour operator contracts with those airlines that they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates that enable us to offer you the best possible travel value. Please note that frequent flyer mileage credits are issued at the discretion of the airline(s) and may not be available for the flights on your tour. If you prefer to make your own airline reservations, “land only” pricing is available on most of our tours.

Air Service/Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour

International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. Tours can also be canceled due to low enrollments. If you make your own airline reservations, we recommend that you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or tickets with high penalties for changes. 

We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance- Cancellation/Delay/Lost Baggage

Smithsonian Journeys recommends that all participants purchase travel insurance.  Learn more at TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys.

Travel Documents and Information

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the tour such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation.  Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours. The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports beginning January 1, 2016. The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. Beginning January 1, 2016, applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website www.travel.state.gov.  For medical information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or www.cdc.gov/travel

Physical and Medical Considerations

To enjoy the travel experience, participants should be in good physical and mental health. All tours require an element of walking (up to two miles per day over uneven terrain) and of climbing stairs, often without handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of participants on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Any physical condition, diet, or special request for accommodation must be identified in writing on the Personal Information Form when the reservation is made. Some tours have additional information regarding physical and medical considerations, which may be discussed with the Reservation Specialist at 855-330-1542.

Please be aware that health care standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating certain health conditions.  It is essential that you inform us in writing (on the provided Personal Information Form) of any existing condition for which you may require medical attention or accommodation during the tour. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of our participants; however, services of a personal nature cannot be expected or guaranteed. By forwarding the deposit for pre-registration or registration in full, you affirm that you do not have any physical or other limitations that would create a hazard for yourself or other participants or would require adjustments to the tour for other participants.

Itinerary or Tour Modifications

Smithsonian Journeys strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, at our sole discretion, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute elements of the tour.  These elements include, but are not limited to:  hotels, staff, speakers, experts, and services for any stated in the itinerary.

Every effort will be made to carry out the tour as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary has been sent to you. Please note that weather and other conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise tours. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule.

Hotel Accommodations

Smithsonian Journeys chooses hotels based on a combination of location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and tours in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used.  Tour prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates

Hotel rooms are always reserved for single participants, however, the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will most likely apply for a single room.  If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room/cabin, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room/cabin. When a roommate cannot be found, a single supplement will be charged. Please note that the single rooms in many foreign hotels may be smaller than those to which you are accustomed.

Children

All tours except family journeys, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for children 16 and older. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, moreover, a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability.  . For participants using air, only post tour extensions are offered. Tour operator may be able to assist land only participants with pre-tour arrangements.

Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the tour or use certain goods included in the tour, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the tour or goods.

Dispute Resolution

If a complaint arises, the participant should first inform a member of the on-tour staff, so that the staff can attempt to rectify the matter. If the issue remains unresolved, the individual should submit the complaint in writing to Smithsonian Journeys within 30 days of the completion of the tour.

The Smithsonian Journeys staff will make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, the parties may agree to use a method of non-binding Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve the dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to agree on the method of Alternative Dispute Resolution to use, or in the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of that alternative dispute resolution method, such efforts shall not constitute a waiver by either party of the right to file suit.

Photography and Video

Participants on tour may be photographed or recorded (audio and video) for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian authorized third parties.  This content may be used in marketing publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys without compensation to the participant. Participants who prefer that their name, voice and/or image not be used must notify us in writing prior to the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy

 For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

READ CAREFULLY: RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

Smithsonian Journeys tours are organized and administered by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of designated tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer participants a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time (including, but not limited for inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant.

Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, in the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour materials, and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.