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From misty cloud forests to ancient volcanic landscapes fringed by jungle, Costa Rica brims with natural wonders. Encounter wildlife and wild places close up as we float, hike, and rappel on a fun-filled family adventure. Peer at white-faced capuchins, jaguars, howler monkeys, sloths, caimans, and toucans. Swing through the cloud forest canopy on a zip line and splash down the Corobicí River on a rafting trip. Immerse yourselves in local life on visits to a coffee plantation, a rural village, and the lively markets of San José.
See Costa Rica’s wild cats at a rescue center established to help orphaned and wounded animals, including jaguars and ocelots.
Go floating and zip-lining through tropical forests, surrounded by an astonishing variety of wildlife.
Eat lunch in the National Theatre of Costa Rica, have dinner in a tree house, and visit a coffee plantation.
Kids have the opportunity to correspond with a Costa Rican pen pal, then meet up with them in person in Colonia Libertad.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — San José, Costa Rica
Bienvenidos! Your tropical adventure begins! Meet fellow travelers and our expedition leaders—both “ticos,” or native Costa Ricans—at a lively welcome dinner. Intercontinental San José (D)
Day 2 — San José/Monteverde
Explore the beauties of San José—from tropical fruit stands at the Mercado Central to the Teatro Nacional and the glittering Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold. After lunch in the central square, head north to the cloud forests of Monteverde. Go on a twilight forest walk as nocturnal creatures awaken. El Establo (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Monteverde
Hike with a local expert through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Spot some of the 500-plus species of orchids and look for wildlife: howler monkeys, tapirs, sloths, leaf-cutter ants, snakes and frogs, and colorful birds and butterflies. See how coffee is grown and roasted on a coffee plantation and ride in an ox-drawn cart. Or, if you feel adventurous, ride a zip line through the forest canopy! Have dinner tonight in a tree house. El Establo (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Guanacaste
Head to Guanacaste Province, full of fast rivers, volcanic scenery, and deep canyons. Float on the Corobicí River through the tropical dry forest, keeping eyes peeled for otters, crocodiles, monkeys, and large birds like storks, herons, and roseate spoonbills. See wild cats up close at the Las Pumas Rescue Center: jaguars, pumas, ocelots, or jaguarundis. Our home for the next three nights is hidden away on a “lost river” deep in a protected forest. Río Perdido (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Río Perdido
Spend the day on an excursion in and around the canyons of Río Blanco—a wild, arid landscape of hot springs and age-old rock formations. Go on an aerial adventure amid the forest canopy: clamber of canyon platforms, walk across hanging bridges, zip-line across the rushing river, and swing and hike through the treetops and canyons. After lunch, opt for a scenic hike with opportunities to swim in the river and sock in thermal pools with extraordinary views. Río Perdido (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Colonia Libertad
We're off to the tropics today. At a sustainability-focused ranch, wander through an organic garden and take a tractor-pulled cart ride among macadamia orchards, tropical flowers, and groves of cacao trees. Then spend the afternoon at Colonia Libertad, a farming community that maintains a traditional lifestyle closely connected to nature. Kids meet their pen pals at the local school, play basketball plant trees together, and forge new friendships. Gather for a farewell dinner tonight. Río Perdido (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Liberia
Transfer to the airport in Liberia for your flight home this morning. (B)
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
About this Expedition
We tap into National Geographic’s vast network to design unique travel experiences for the whole family, filled with hands-on activities and memorable moments. A special aspect of this expedition is the Kid-to-Kid Connection, which links every young traveler with a pen pal of similar age in Costa Rica. In the village of Colonia Libertad, kids will get to know their "tico" pen pals during an afternoon of fun activities. They'll join artisans to learn how to make soap using local herbs, and teach their new friends how to play basketball at hoops that have been donated to the community.
Our dynamic Expedition Leaders enrich each experience with their insights, knowledge, and energy, and a Young Explorer Leader joins every group to facilitate fun activities that help kids get the most out of the places we go. As we travel, we’ll also meet up with fascinating people doing meaningful work in the field.