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Costa Rica Garden Tour | University of Washington Botanic Gardens


January 04, 2015 - January 13, 2015

  • Introduction
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Pricing
  • Contacts
  • Links
  • Register

Costa Rica, with its neotropical climate and large areas of protected land, boasts a stunning array of biodiversity, including more than 9,000 different types of flowering plants and 1,200 species of its national flower, the orchid.

On this 10-day journey, the University of Washington Botanic Gardens invites you to discover a sampling of the country’s vibrant flora, from cloud forests to tropical rainforests, plus botanical treasures like the Monteverde Orchid Garden and the Else Kientzler Botanical Gardens.

Learn about research being conducted at rainforest field stations, see how crops impact the land, all while taking guided hikes, watching for wildlife, and experiencing Costa Rica’s rich culture.

Visit Else Kientzler Botanical Garden and enjoy its impressive collection of tropical epiphytes, including many native orchids.

Hike through lush primary tropical rainforest in Selva Verde Lodge’s 500-acre reserve.

Fly through the trees on a zip lining excursion and embark on a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure.

Take a guided hike at La Selva Biological Station with a tropical rainforest specialist.

Learn about the agricultural processes involved in making chocolate and sample the results at Tirimbina Biological Reserve.

Watch for the elusive Resplendent Quetzal in Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

January 04 - San Jose

Upon arrival at the international airport in San José, after clearing customs and collecting your luggage, you will be met and transferred to Hotel Buena Vista for overnight. Overnight Buena Vista- superior balcony

January 05 - Chilamate

Early this morning, should you wish, enjoy the property`s nature walk with breathtaking panoramic views of volcanoes, the tropical forest, and the central valley. After a delicious buffet breakfast, begin your travels to the lowland rainforest in Sarapiquí Valley. En route, visit the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden. The gardens feature tropical epiphytic species, including native orchids. There is also a collection of tropical fruit trees-taste what`s in season during your visit! After lunch at the gardens, continue your journey to Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve. After settling into your room, meet with your naturalist guide for a walkabout of the property, followed by time for a cocktail before dinner. For those interested in a night hike, meet up with your guide after dinner, and be sure to bring a flashlight! Overnight Selva Verde - River (BLD)

January 06 - Chilamate

Start the day early with an optional guided stroll along the trails and wake up with the wildlife. After breakfast, meet your guide by the suspension bridge for a hike in Selva Verde Reserve. This afternoon, those seeking adventure can go whitewater rafting on the Río Sarapiquí, which flows through the property of Selva Verde. If you wish for a quieter activity, enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the slower part of the river out of the town of Puerto Viejo. After dinner your guide will be available for a walk through the property to look for nocturnal wildlife again this evening. Overnight Selva Verde - River (BLD)

January 07 - Chilamate

After breakfast, travel to the nearby Organization for Tropical Studies La Selva Biological Station for a guided hike with one of their specialist guides. La Selva is one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rainforests. More than 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site. Return to Selva Verde for lunch. This afternoon, learn about the newly discovered archaeological site close to the lodge, followed by a chocolate tour at Tirimbina Biological Reserve. Overnight Selva Verde - River (BLD)

January 08 - La Fortuna

Following breakfast, travel to the town of La Fortuna, home to Arenal Volcano. Once reaching the town, turn off the main road and take a short drive to La Fortuna Waterfalls. These beautiful waterfalls are surrounded by tropical forest. Take a walk down to the falls and, should you wish, take a dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls. After your time there, you will be taken to lunch at a typical "tico" restaurant, after which you will continue on to Arenal Lodge. Once you have checked in, the remainder of the afternoon is free to explore the trails on the property with your naturalist guide, enjoy a horseback ride, take a swim in the pool, and/or relax in the Jacuzzi. Overnight Arenal Lodge - Jr. Suite (BLD)

January 09 - La Fortuna

Today visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a mountainside reserve that features multiple hanging bridges in the canopies, numerous trails, and a waterfall along the way. After lunch back at the lodge, depart for Arenal Springs Resort & Spa for a relaxing time in their hot springs pools, with dinner following at approximately 7 pm. (Changing rooms are available.) Overnight Arenal Lodge - Jr. Suite (BLD)

January 10 - Monteverde

This morning travel to the cloud forests of Monteverde. After arrival and time to have lunch (on own), spend a thrilling afternoon on the Sky Trek zip line through the canopy. If zip lining is too adventurous for you, you can opt to take the Sky Walk (suspension bridges) or Sky Tram (cable car). This evening is yours to spend at leisure, or perhaps enjoy a night hike with your guide. Overnight El Establo- deluxe (B)

January 11 - Monteverde

After an early breakfast, you will be transferred (or enjoy a short, 15-minute walk) to Monteverde Reserve for a guided hike. This cloud forest reserve is famous for its size and lush forests, including an elfin forest at the highest point. The variable climate and large altitudinal gradient have helped to produce habitat for an amazingly heterogeneous set of creatures. Some of these include the jaguar, ocelot, Baird`s tapir, Three-wattled Bellbird, Bare-necked Umbrellabird, and the famously elusive Resplendent Quetzal. After your time in the forest, you will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch at any number of restaurants in town or at your hotel (on own). This afternoon meet back with your guide and visit the Monteverde Orchid Garden, home to over 425 orchid species. Overnight El Establo- deluxe (B)

January 12 - Santo Domingo

Rise early if you would like to get in a hike with your guide. Following breakfast, depart the lodge for your travels to Santo Domingo, a suburb of San José. En route, visit the Quaker Cheese Factory and the Women`s Cooperative in Monteverde for some shopping and to perhaps enjoy an ice cream cone or locally made cheese. Lunch will be later, en route as well. Arrive at Hotel Bougainvillea in time to enjoy the beautiful gardens before darkness settles in. This evening, have a farewell dinner at the hotel. Overnight Hotel Bougainvillea - Garden View (BLD)

January 13 - Departure

Early this morning you will be transferred to the international airport in San José for your flights home. (B)


$2,355 per person

Plus $300 per person tax-deductible donation to University of Washington Botanic Gardens (to be paid separately).

Based on a minimum of 10 participants. Cost is based on double occupancy; for a single room add $580.

+ Accommodations
+ Activities
+ Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
+ Non-alcoholic beverages with meals
+ In-country transportation
+ Full-time guide
+ Carbon offset

Cost does not include gratuities, $29 departure tax, or international airfare estimated at $950 from Seattle (other departure cities are available).

A $200 deposit is required to reserve your space on the tour.

For more information, contact Sandy Schmidt at 877-907-5360 or email