San Gerardo Trip 2013
Children’s Eternal Rainforest
Dates: July 12 – 20, 2013
Price: $1,945 (not including airfare)
Early Bird discount of $100 if you register by January 15, 2013. Please click on link below for registration form.
For more information email our Science/Travel Director Maggie Eisenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 608-217-5288 or 636-532-3290.
DAY 1: FRI. July 12
Fly to Costa Rica and arrive in San Jose (SJO, airport code). You should try to arrive between mid-day and late afternoon in order to make our welcome dinner. Please contact us with your flight information to help you arrange transport to the Don Carlos Hotel. (Overnight: Don Carlos – D)
DAY 2: SAT. July 13
Begin with breakfast at Hotel Don Carlos (www.doncarloshotel.com), located in Barrio Amon, San Jose’s most historic district. Afterwards we will take a short drive to the Institute of National Biodiversity (INBioParque, www.inbioparque.com) and spend the morning wandering through slices of different forested habitats looking for sloths, caimans, deer, and a variety of birds that make INBio home. There are a variety of exhibits extolling the ecological and biological diversity of Costa Rica and its conservation importance on national and international scales. We’ll leave in time for lunch on the road, traveling northwest along the Pan American Highway into the Tilaran Mountains. We pass sugar cane fields and coffee plantations as we ascend the ridge above the San Luis Valley with views of the Pacific Ocean below us. We’ll check into Cala Lodge (www.calalodge.com) a small, locally owned hotel situated next to the Bajo de Tigre section of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Your hosts Francisco and Raquel are truly special people who will make your first night in Monteverde memorable. Cala Lodge will have a dinner prepared for you that evening. (Overnight Cala Lodge: B, L, D)
DAY 3: SUN. July 14
After breakfast hike down from the continental divide through the cloud forest into El Bosque Eterno de los Niños (BEN) as it’s known in Spanish, or the Children’s Eternal Rainforest (CER) – 55,000 acres of protected forest. We’ll settle-in at San Gerardo Biological Field Station with an extraordinary view of Arenal Volcano. After lunch we’ll get out onto the trails for unique, individual experiences of sensory immersion in this amazing habitat. Never a guarantee – but always a possibility, to come face to face with a variety of organisms large and small that call this place home: howler monkeys, coatis, morpho butterflies, swallowtail kites, leafcutter ants, crested curassow, or the endemic orange-bellied trogon. After dark, we take a hike with a local guide to see bioluminescent fungus, stick insects, katydids, rainfrogs, stream frogs, and other denizens of the night. (Overnight at San Gerardo B, L, D):
DAY 4: MON. July 15
Early morning bird walks are always an option, for those so inclined! Prong-billed and red-headed barbets, masked tityra, emerald toucanet, cotinga, and scarlet-rumped tanagers are among the frequently spotted birds. Our local guide will lead us on a full morning hike, sharing with us the traditional lore of many plants, along with the natural history of the many animals we will see. These could include praying mantis, toucans, beetles, orchids, morpho butterflies, coati, lianas, palms, white-faced capuchins, oropendolas, hawks and falcons, peccary, or even the elusive and rare bare-necked umbrella bird! Free afternoon for hiking trails of your choice, amidst towering strangler figs festooned with epiphytes or off to the waterfall. Supper by candlelight. After dark, mist-net bats with our naturalist and learn about the fascinating diversity of these miracles of nature. (Overnight at San Gerardo: B, L, D)
DAY 5: TUE. July 16
Before and during breakfast we will mist-net birds with our naturalist and maybe get close-up looks nightingale thrushes, wood-wrens, manakins, spinetails, wood thrushes, flycatchers, and hummingbirds. In the afternoon, we will participate in trail maintenance or other service project to benefit the BEN/CER. We’ll have a yummy tortilla-making lesson before dinner, allowing you to participate in the preparation of a typical Costa Rican meal. Evenings always bring the possibility of viewing lava flow and glowing sparks from the volcano. (Overnight at San Gerardo: B, L, D)
DAY 6: WED. July 17
After an early breakfast, we bid farewell to the majestic Arenal Volcano and hike out through the clouds. You will have a few hours to engage in your choice of optional activities ($) – walk the mystical cloud forest trails of the Santa Elena Reserve, fly through/above the canopy on zip lines, or walk through the canopy at your own pace on a series of suspension bridges at Selvatura (www.selvatura.com). For guaranteed views of some of the cloud forest denizens we suggest visits to the serpentarium (frogs too), insect collection, or hummingbird and butterfly gardens. There’s a cafeteria where you can get coffee, pastries, and other snacks, and plenty of tables inside and out for relaxing. We’ll get back to Cala for a late lunch, then head into “downtown” Monteverde for some shopping at CASEM, a crafts/souvenirs cooperative, strolling through some of the local shops, and a must-stop visit to the famous Cheese Factory for the best milk shakes in the world. (Overnight Cala Lodge: B, L, D)
DAY 7: THU. July 18
Pre-breakfast bird walks offer plenty of opportunities to spot the bellbirds, as they loudly announce their location. This morning we travel to nearby San Luis Valley for a visit with a local rural school, where we can deliver donated school supplies and play soccer with the children, or be entertained with a demonstration of folkloric dancing in costume. Afterwards we’ll have a tour of Finca la Bella, a sustainable organic coffee plantation, and some yummy tasting of the fruits of their labor. In the afternoon we’ll engage in a moderately difficult and strenuous hike to a spectacular 200ft double waterfall and bathing pool. There we can enjoy swimming and a picnic lunch. After dinner we’ll wind up our day with an after dark visit to the Ranario (Frog Pond) and encounter many more of the local frog species. (Overnight Cala Lodge: B, L, D)
DAY 8: FRI. July 19
We’ll be up, have breakfast, and be on the road earlier today as we head down the Pacific slope for our rafting adventure where we’ll see plenty of wildlife. We’ll have another picnic lunch and visit a very special center dedicated to rescue and rehabilitate CR’s endangered cats. We’ll finally get a chance to see these amazing creatures, although the manner in which we see them is somewhat unfortunate (in captivity). In the afternoon we will be on the bus back to San Jose and Hotel Don Carlos. We’ll have our farewell dinner at a nearby restaurant and a final review of the trip before we turn in for the evening. (Overnight: Don Carlos – D)
DAY 9: SAT. July 20
Today is the day we depart. You should all plan for late morning or early afternoon flights back to the US. This way we can take most of you to the airport after breakfast as one group. Again, please send us your flight information and we can make arrangements for transport. (B)
We sincerely hope you decide to travel with us to experience first-hand the beauty and magic of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica. For 25 years the Monteverde Conservation League has protected this rainforest, a fundamental link in Costa Rica’s conservation network. Joining us on our trips helps us ensure that future generations of children will always have this rainforest to return to, and count on to anchor their own conservation programs. Please contact us or look for more information regarding our trips to Costa Rica on our web page http://friendsoftheforest.org.
*The cost includes all items mentioned in the itinerary above, unless otherwise noted. Airfare and the mandatory $26 departure tax paid at the airport are not included as part of this package. The cost is based
on double, triple, and in some cases quadruple occupancy, given the rustic or simple nature of some of the lodging. If you are interested in being part of this unforgettable adventure, or have more questions, then please inquire with Maggie at the Friends of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.
Photos by: Dr Julia Matamoros, Maggie Eisenberger and Donna Mount
Group Leader Mike Bertrand Information
Michael began traveling at a young age with his family by going on canoe outings, camping, and road trips. As a young adult he continued these travels on his own, with friends, or often, his brother. He also has backpacked around parts of Europe, the South Pacific, Central America, and the Caribbean. Some of the travels have been for study and some for just good old fashioned fun.
When Michael was at the beginning of his education career, he was a Naturalist Assistant at the Boston School forest for a few years. After he earned his degree in biology, he took the experience of weather, ecosystems, animal tracking, survival, and various outdoor interests right into the classroom. His passion of sharing the natural environment with people remains a life priority.
In his free time you will find Michael traveling as much as possible with his wife and two daughters. They often enjoy canoeing, hiking, gardening, and star gazing. Living in a small, rather undeveloped valley in Montana affords them many opportunities of appreciating their natural surroundings. His annual trip to Costa Rica to share these experiences with others and create awareness of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest is always a highlight!
Eco-tour operated by Natural Solutions – Costa Rica