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This 10 day itinerary is designed to provide a concise, yet rewarding exploration of Costa Rica. Combining environmental study, community involvement and exciting activities, this is a popular destination for pupils to learn, discover and develop.

The itinerary starts in the capital San José with a night at a city hotel to relax after the international flight. Thereafter, the rest of the trip is a packed programme!  Start by visiting the impressive Poas Volcano, which stands at 2,700 metres and is considered the largest geyser in the world. You will then move onto Arenal Volcano, to discover the 140-metre deep crater,  carved after the last eruption in 1968.

The trip then explores some of Costa Rica’s wildlife, rich, colourful and biodiverse, to enthuse pupils. You will take a river boat cruise in the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, where you can expect to see a wide variety of animals and plants, before visiting a local school to see a traditional Tico style fiesta, presented by the pupils. Afterwards, visit a working farm to see tropical fruits such as, pineapple, banana, papaya being grown and harvested. You will also spend a day in Monteverde Cloud Forest, one of Costa Rica’s most pristine rainforests and home to over 100 mammals, and 400 species of birds, including the colourful and splendidly named resplendent quetzal.

At the end of the itinerary you will reach the Pacific Coast, where the group can try surfing in the laid back beach town of Tamarindo. The trip ends with a fitting conservation activity, visiting a protected sea turtle park, where pupils will learn about the protection of these majestic creatures, before watching turtles in their natural environment. 

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly to San José

    Depart the UK on an early morning flight and arrive into San José during the afternoon. On arrival, you will be met by your tour guide and transferred to a city centre hotel, with some time to relax before dinner at the hotel. 

  2. Day 2: Arenal Volcano National Park

    After breakfast depart San Jose, and travel to Poas Volcano. Standing at 2,700 metres, this is considered to be the largest geyser in the world. The group will learn about the geothermic activity in the region; as the volcano is currently active, you will observe from a safe distance.

    After lunch, you will drive close to Arenal Volcano and learn about the deep crater (140 metres), formed over an ancient caldera. Afterwards visit the hot springs resort, with thermo-mineral water swimming pools.

  3. Day 3: Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge

    Today the focus of the programme switches to Costa Rica’s wildlife. After breakfast, depart to visit Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, and take a boat tour on the River Frio (during the rainy season, the trip will be by boat on the lagoon). This area is one of the richest primary forest reserves in the country, where rivers and lagoons meet. This is a great opportunity to watch bird such egrets, storks and Ibis, and there is also an opportunity to see caiman, howler monkey and perhaps sloths.

    After lunch return to La Fortuna, for a free afternoon and dinner in the town.

  4. Day 4: Rural school visit & agricultural tour

    Today, you will take a study trip around on the most important agricultural areas in Costa Rica. First is a visit to a local school to enjoy a ‘Tico’ style fiesta, presented by the students and teachers of the school. This includes traditional dances familiar to this region, and cultural interaction for everyone. After lunch, you will visit a local farm to learn about fruit plantation (pineapple, papaya and plantains) and the way these are farmed and harvested. 

  5. Day 5: Monteverde Cloud Forest

    After breakfast, it's time to leave Arenal and move onto Monteverde. The Monteverde Reserve is a dense rainforest area, home to 2,500 different plants, 100 mamals and over 400 species of birds. Mammals such a howler monkeys, agoutis and coastis can be seen here.

    In the evening, enjoy a night walk. Starting at sunset, this is the time when wildlife in the rainforest is very active. You will be lead by a local naturalist guide, to search and identify nocturnal species such as tree frogs, bats and smaller mammals.

  6. Day 6: Canopy tour, transfer to Tamarindo

    In the morning, take part in a canopy tour, taking you on a rainforest adventure through the canopy and across the cloud forest of Monteverde. After lunch, continue onto the laid back beach town of Tamarindo. 

  7. Day 7: Surf lesson & turtle watching

    In the morning, take part in a surf lesson. Led by qualified surf instructors, you will learn the basic principals of surfing and water safety, and under supervision, head into the ocean to practise this energetic watersport.

    This evening, transfer to Marnio Las Baulus National Park, where you will learn about the protection and conservation of sea turtles. As night falls, you can look out for wild sea turtles returning to the beach.

  8. Day 8: Tamarindo beach, transfer to San José, city tour

    Today, you will leave Tamarindo and return to San José. After lunch, enjoy a walking tour of the historic city, including the National Theatre, one of the most beautiful buildings in Costa Rica, built in 1897, before following the European Union Pedestrian Boulevard downhill to La Soledad (Our Lady of Loneliness), with its small Plaza de las Artes (Place of the Arts).  Return to the hotel for the last night’s dinner.

  9. Day 9: Depart San José

    After breakfast, you will be transferred from your hotel to the international airport for an overnight flight back to the UK.

  10. Day 10: Arrive UK

    Arrive back in the morning.

Key info

This suggested itinerary is based on personal recommendation and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Destination: Costa Rica
  • When to go: Feb to Oct
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Trip type: Explorer
  • Subject: Biology, geography
  • Itinerary highlights:
    • Arenal Volcano
    • Monteverde Cloud Forest
    • Turtle watching
    • Boat safari
    • Night-time nature hike
  • Activities:
    • City tour

    • Nature walk

    • Rainforest canopy tour

    • Safari

    • Surfing

  • Accommodation: Hotels & lodges
  • Ideal for: Ages 15 to 16
  • Travellers will need:
    • High level of fitness
    • Appreciation for outdoor adventure
    • Interest in encountering new cultures

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Featured locations:

Arenal Volcano

View of Arenal Volcano with vegetation

One of the most active volcanoes in Costa Rica, Arenal is also arguably the most picturesque. With its symmetrical shape and a flourishing national park, Arenal is a stunning part of the country.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Resplendent quetzal in Costa Rican rainforest

Monteverde Cloud Forest is the ultimate location in Costa Rica to seek diversity, beauty, and virgin forest. The reserve also undertakes important conservation contributions and research.