Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica possesses a wealth of natural beauty and wildlife that belies its diminutive size. Join us to discover its pristine landscapes and learn about the unique environments of cloud and rain forests.

Starting at: $4,281 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Oak Tiger Butterfly. Credit: Phil Parsons  The luscious cloud forest from the forest floor  Arenal Volcano  The elusive Resplendent Quetzel, Monteverde National Park  White-faced Capuchin monkey  A brilliantly colored morpho butterfly  One of many butterfly species of Costa Rica  Hanging bridge in the canopy  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  Colorful orchid  Poás Volcano  Coffee field  Beach along the coast of Guanacaste  Sunset in Guanacaste

Costa Rica's Natural Treasures

11 days from $4,281 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica possesses a wealth of natural beauty and wildlife that belies its diminutive size. Join us to discover its pristine landscapes and learn about the unique environments of cloud and rain forests.

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.

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

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: 2

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

Tour Extension

Tortuguero National Park  Pre-Program Option4 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

Highly Recommended

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.
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.

Also Recommended

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
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.
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 Laminated)
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Travel Guard provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.