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Some of the most beautiful spots throughout the country of Costa Rica mixed with some of the most educational, both historically and culturally speaking, make this the perfect trip for curious and adventurous students!
San Jose - San Jose, the bustling capital city of Costa Rica, is a densely popular Spanish Colonial city located within the Central Valley. With the Talamanca Mountains to the south and the Poas, Barva, and Irazu volcano-dotted land to the north, this center-country area is one of the most beautiful and easily accessible. The Spanish Colonial buildings lining the roads make the city both scenic and full of learning opportunities, several residences being WWII era or colonial mansions. The local businesses and people will provide you with the best insight into local traditions and culture as possible, with several traditional eateries, activities, and events allowing you to immerse yourself into the community. The city is also full of various parks, art galleries, and museums, some of which include the highly popular National Theatre of Costa Rica, Plaza de la Cultura, Precolumbian Gold Museum, Morazan Park, Central Park, and the Jade Museum.
Cartago - Cartago is both a city and a province, one rich in history, culture, and beauty. The city of Cartago is one of the oldest in the country, the first capital city of Costa Rica until 1823. The town was founded by Juan Vasquez de Coronado in 1563, a quickly flourishing agriculture and trade community. The Reventazon River and rich soil, in general, made this city so great during its time, up until 1732 when a volcanic eruption destroyed most of the city. Since that eruption, the city has been essentially left untouched, with various historic ruins and remaining buildings scattered throughout. Cartago is considered to be a small and tranquil community today, with plenty of historic churches and buildings to see during your visit.
La Marta Rainforest Reserve - Welcome to La Marta Rainforest Reserve, the highly popular, and highly beautiful, wildlife refuge located just 44 miles southeast of San Jose. This entire reserve protects la Marta, Atirro, and the Gato River basin, as well as various cloud forests, waterfalls, and cave systems within. Considered to be the ‘gateway to Tapanti and La Amistad National Parks’ this entire experience will truly be an insightful and naturally entertaining one. Your group will be able to take advantage of the 20 different trails here, totaling 11 miles. Explore historic ruins, as well as the history in general, this spot first being a coffee farm for Americans, one of the first to have electricity in Latin America. There are various tours available on site such as the 3-hour birdwatching tour, history tour, 9-mile natural history tour, and exciting 2-hour nocturnal night hike.
Coopedote Coffee Mill - Located in Santa Maria de Dota, just 30 minutes south of Cartago, you will find one of the most impressive coffee mills in the world, Coopedote Coffee Cooperative. Coopedote has officially won recognition as the world’s first carbon neutral coffee producer, this co-op utilizing low energy production to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. Not only are the practices of production here impressive, but so is the overall experience, the mill allowing guests to sample their world-renown coffee and tour the processing and roasting plants. The onsite tour will allow you to really get to know the process of coffee making in the most simplistic, green way possible, showing you the low energy production by way of organic waste.
Los Quetzales National Park - Los Quetzales National Park is a can’t-miss spot during your Costa Rican travels. This Talamanca Mountain range feature presents guests with mossy hardwoods, alpine planes, and highland birds amidst a gorgeous haze of clouds, one of the most scenic local wildlife viewing opportunities you may have on your trip. It will be easy to understand why this park was named such upon establishment in 2005, the 12,000-acre area holding a large population of Resplendent Quetzals. These easily identifiable crimson and green birds feature a flowing tail feather collection and overall shy attitude, a difficult bird to happen upon sometimes. Be sure to wear layers and perhaps bring a raincoat if you plan on taking a trek on any of the 8 different trails, the temperature stays between a cool 65 and 70 degrees typically with frequent mist or rain.
Uvita - Uvita is known as the gateway to Marino Ballena National Park, the village being the closest to the entrance. The national park will show you a diverse range of coastal and montane habitats, the area most highly known for its whale and dolphin watching opportunities.Aside from the National Park access and gorgeous coastal beaches throughout, Uvita is also known as an almost hidden treasure culture-wise. Here’s a quick list of other activities you may want to take part in during your day in Uvita: explore the stores and eateries of the local village, snorkel or scuba at any of the many beaches, visit the Uvita Waterfall, head to the nearby Playa Ventanas, or take a trek to Terraba Sierpe Wetlands and catch a glimpse of a crocodile or monkey.
Marino Ballena National Park - Marino Ballena National Park is a part of the largest reef on the Pacific coast of Central America, a key member of Las Tres Hermanas, or three sisters. Situated in between Playa Hermosa and Playa Pinuela, Ballena Island is one of the most sought after spots to whale watch in the area. This southern Pacific coastline is a well-known whale migration destination for Humpbacks, especially during the months of December, January, February, March, and April. There are thickets of mangrove between the beaches around the park, as well as lowland rainforest and other various marine habitats. While here your group may choose to snorkel (during low tides only), beach comb, or perhaps try to spot the forming sand and debris bridge to Punta Uvita Tombolo.
Cano Island - This island is famous for one thing: snorkeling! Considered to be the best, or in some others’ opinion the second best, spot in Costa Rica to scuba dive or snorkel, Cano Island is a definite must-stop for your group during your tropical travels.Cano Island will present your group with the largest concentration of coral-building organisms along the Pacific, this entire marine biology reserve a true tropical paradise for divers and curious swimmers alike. Explore the expansive coral reefs within the crystal clear waters as you swim with the turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and parrot and puffer fish.