Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center

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Costa Rica for Families
Volcanoes & Beaches

8 Days / 7 Nights

December 26, 2011 – January 2, 2012

Join us on a special trip designed for fun-loving families seeking out the treasures of friendly, laid-back, tropical Costa Rica. Included in this trip is a wonderful opportunity to give back to one of the communities you will be visiting through a half day of volunteering.

We start with a visit to the area around Arenal Volcano, which is an active volcano that can put on quite a show at night! Arenal is considered one of the ten most active volcanoes in the world, and the area around it is a veritable playground for families. The volcano itself is quite a sight, and if the weather is right your family will see an amazing natural wonder. Later, walk along the treetops along the hanging bridges, then glide from platform to platform for a bird's-eye view of the forest on an exhilarating canopy tour. Learn about the complex process needed to produce your morning coffee at a local coffee farm, and relax at the end of the day in hot springs warmed by heat from the volcano.

Next, travel to the white sand beaches of Guanacaste, checking out Palo Verde National Park on the way. Here in the nearby community of Potero, your family will spend a half day volunteering with local community members on various projects. Later, enjoy canoeing and snorkeling amidst a wide variety of coral reef and marine life as well as surfing for the older children. The last day is free for your family to enjoy the beach or hotel pool.

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


Day 1 Monday, December 26, 2011 - San Jose

Depart U.S. / Arrive San Jose

Upon arrival in San Jose, your family is met and transferred to the hotel. Rest and relax after your long journey. Overnight: Hotel Bougainvillea

Day 2 Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - Arenal

Coffee plantation, traditional lunch, hot springs

After a welcome breakfast and orientation, we depart for a local organic coffee plantation. Watch how coffee is picked, milled and ground, then sample the results! If your eyes are still a little heavy from the early morning, they are sure to perk up from the rich aroma and flavorful taste of a hot cup of fresh Costa Rican coffee. After a traditional lunch with a local family, you can soak and relax in natural hot springs, whose waters are warmed by the geothermic activity beneath the earth’s crust. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening. Overnight: Arenal Manoa
Meals: B, L, D

Day 3 Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - Arenal

Manoa farm visit, Hanging Bridges, canopy tour

Early this morning, we have the option to visit Manoa’s farm and its flock of sheep and cow pasture, and learn about the milking process. Then we’ll explore protected, primary neo-tropical rain forest from the Hanging Bridges at Arenal. This series of trails is interconnected by nine stationary bridges, a tunnel, and six suspension bridges. Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano as you walk through the treetops.

Later, get your adrenaline pumping on an exhilarating canopy tour. Secured to steel zipline cables with the help of our experienced guides, glide from platform to platform for a unique opportunity to see the forest from a bird's-eye view. Those who wish to keep their feet on the ground might opt for a Maleku Indigenous experience. The Maleku Tribe used to reside in this area of Costa Rica. They speak their own language and are struggling to hold onto their original traditions and customs. There are only a few hundred Malekus left! Enjoy a presentation by them to learn more about their tribe and traditions. Overnight: Arenal Manoa
Meals: B, L, D

Day 4 Thursday, December 29, 2011 - Arenal - Guanacaste

Palo Verde National Park

Start driving to the North Pacific coast, stopping en route at Palo Verde National Park, and crossing the a river by boat while you watch for birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. Enjoy a Costa Rican lunch, served on Guaitil´s pottery at Doña Dalilia´s place. Continue driving towards the coast of Guanacaste, where your hotel is nestled on a beautiful beach. Overnight: Sugar Beach Resort
Meals: B, L, D

Day 5 Friday, December 30, 2011 - Guanacaste

Potrero school visit, pen pal meeting, half day community service project

This morning children can meet their pen pals, have some fun activities and then share a light lunch together. After lunch, you’ll have a briefing to learn more about the volunteer project you’ll be supporting and how you’ll be able to contribute to this community. Each visit is unique, and prioritizing which work project comes next is an important community-based decision. As one project is completed, another will commence. Overnight: Sugar Beach Resort
Meals: B, L, D

Day 6 Saturday, December 31, 2011 - Guanacaste

Free day to enjoy the resort

Today you will be free to enjoy the beach at the resort. Overnight: Sugar Beach Resort
Meals: B, L, D

Day 7 Sunday, January 1, 2011 - Guanacaste

Outrigger canoe trip, snorkeling and surf lesson.

Paddle to quiet Pacific coves for snorkeling, tide pooling and beachcombing. These beaches are some of the best places for snorkeling in Guanacaste, with a wide variety of coral reef and marine life. Lunch will be a picnic on the beach before heading back to the hotel. This afternoon the older children will be able to try their hand at surfing with a lesson on the beach. Meet up again this evening for our farewell dinner. Overnight: Sugar Beach Resort
Meals: B, L, D

Day 8 Monday, January 2, 2011 - Guanacaste

Depart Liberia Airport / Arrive U.S.

This morning you and your family will be transferred to Liberia airport for your departing flight.
Meals: B

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Cost and Program Inclusions

Adult: $3,350
Children up to age 17: $3,100
Child under 12 sharing with two adults: $2,800
Single Supplement: $ 900


  • All entrance fees
  • Accommodations based on double and triple occupancy at comfortable and distinctive hotels
  • ALL Meals per the above itinerary
  • Tips for porters, maids, and wait staff
  • Services of a national guide who will accompany you throughout your trip
  • All excursions as listed in the itinerary
  • Pen pals for all interested children, who they can write to in advance and meet on the trip
  • Unlimited bottles of water each day for the land portion of your tour
  • Airport transfers for families arriving into San Jose on the scheduled arrival day and departing from Liberia airport on the scheduled departure day
  • Welcome reception and farewell meals that include beer, wine and sodas
  • Land transportation
  • Bryn Mawr Faculty host throught the trip

Not Included:

  • Soda, beer, wine and spirits except for the welcome reception and farewell meal
  • Fees for passports, visas, and immunizations
  • International flights
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Airport departure taxes of approximately USD $26 per person
  • Meals and expenses en route
  • Travel insurance
  • Laundry, phone/fax/email, and other items of a personal nature
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Bryn Mawr Study Leader:

Dr. Arlo Weil
Dr. Arlo Weil

Accompanying and instructing your group will be Dr. Arlo Weil. Professor Weil is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Geology Department at Bryn Mawr College where he teaches classes in Natural Disasters, Structural Geology, Tectonics and Geophysics. He holds a Ph.D. (2000) in Geology from The University of Michigan, and specializes in the field of paleomagnetism - the study of the Earth's ancient magnetic field as it is recorded in the rock record. He frequently travels to Spain, Portugal, British Columbia, Wyoming and Utah for field research. His current projects are on the evolution of curved mountain belts (particularly in the North American Cordillera), and the lifecycle of Earth's great supercontinents.

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