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Upcoming Programs:
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Costa Rica Family Adventure

December 26, 2009–January 4, 2010
Faculty: Fred Diehl, Professor Biology Emeritus

Price: $4,980* per person based on adult double occupancy; $4,480* for teens aged 13-17 sharing with another teen or adult; and $3,880* for children 12 and under sharing with an adult.

* Does not include international air.

Please call us toll free at 866-765-2646.

Registration is Open

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Costa Rica sceneryWe invite you to escape the winter on a family adventure in friendly, peaceful Costa Rica. A democracy for 100 years, Costa Rica is a welcoming destination for families. Situated at the junction of North and South America, this lovely country has become a world model for national park development. With over 25 percent of its land consisting of reserves, Costa Rica is home to 850 species of birds, hundreds of waterfalls, pristine beaches, tropical rainforests and cloud forests along with a wide array of animals from the white-faced monkey to sloths and iguanas.

We have designed a trip that is fun for young explorers and their families who enjoy hiking and learning about wildlife and tropical forests. Local naturalist guides will assist everyone in the group to identify and understand what they see. This tour features two distinct locations: the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest in the Tilarán Mountains and Costa Rica's northern Pacific Coast. Expeditions will take us by raft down a tropical river looking for monkeys and birds as well as on walks over suspended bridges in the rainforest canopy. In addition, there will be a visit to a butterfly farm, a chance to observe the immense crater of Poás Volcano, one of the largest in the world, and an opportunity for horseback riding. Our lovely Mediterraneus Hotel on the Pacific Coast is only 10 minutes away from the beautiful Potrero, Flamingo and La Penca beaches.

Join U.Va. alumni and friends on a planned vacation that offers a relaxing learning experience that takes into account the interests of children, parents or grandparents.

What to Expect

Costa Rica sceneryThis exclusive expedition is for the families of University of Virginia Alumni and friends. It is especially designed for families (parents or grandparents) with children between the ages of 8 and 17 who are interested in nature and would enjoy exploring and learning about the vegetation and wildlife of some of Costa Rica's finest national parks and reserves. Naturalist-led walks and creative activities provide an enriching introduction to Costa Rica's natural history and cultural heritage. It helps to be enthusiastic about outdoor adventure, intellectually curious and comfortable traveling as part of a group. Typically, the weather is hot and humid in the lowlands (high 80s) and spring-like in the highlands. While at the national parks and reserves, there is a daily program of nature exploration, guided rainforest walks and educational discussions. Travel is by motorcoach and boat with daily walks of up to two miles in length, sometimes over uneven terrain, at a leisurely pace suitable for nature study and field observation. We describe this trip as active to moderately active.

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Program Highlights

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Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura is nestled in the heart of the central valley, amid a breathtaking backdrop of lush green meadows and surrounded by beautiful mountains, five miles from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), and a short driving distance from San José, the capital city. The hotel boasts a beautiful garden area and three swimming pools. Internet service is available.

Hotel de Montaña Monteverde is located in the Pacific Province of Puntarenas at 4,500 feet above sea level. The hotel offers comfortable rooms as well as a Jacuzzi, sauna, conference room and bar, and a restaurant that offers the special flavor and charm of home-cooked Costa Rican cuisine. Adjacent to the hotel is a 37-acre private forest, offering excellent views and trails, including a small pond for the guests' enjoyment.

Mediterraneus Hotel is just a few minutes from Potrero Beach in Guanacaste province, located in the North Pacific coast area of Costa Rica. With Potrero Beach and other beautiful nearby beaches, this zone is considered the "Golden Coast" of Central America. The newly designed Mediterraneus Hotel offers exclusive accommodations with eco-friendly facilities, as well as a spacious and relaxing swimming pool surrounded by tropical gardens.

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All meals included from day two to day nine. Breakfast on day ten, the day of departure.

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Fred Diehl is an Emeritus faculty member in the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia and has over 30 years of teaching biology at all levels. His research and teaching interests are mainly in the areas of zoology, developmental biology, ecology and marine sciences, with a specialization in Invertebrate Biology. Whenever possible, field experiences and laboratories have been an important component of his courses and he is a firm believer in learning from direct observation and first-hand exposure to nature. Professor Diehl has a long history of working with the Advanced Placement Biology program and in-service teacher preparation in addition to his dedication to undergraduate and graduate education. His proudest accomplishment as a faculty member at the University of Virginia is having taught a variety of courses to a total of over 25,000 undergraduate students, 700 of whom were enrolled in his renowned course in Marine Biology/Coral Reef Ecology in the Bahamas, which has been offered for over 25 years. (Costa Rica '07, Belize '08, Galápagos Islands '08)

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Day 1 - U.S. / San José

Depart from Miami to San José. Transfer to our hotel. We'll gather for a short welcome and there will be a hospitality desk with light refreshments.
Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura

Day 2 - San José / Poás Volcano

Following an orientation and trip briefing, we'll drive to the top of Poás Volcano, one of the few active volcanoes in the continent. On a clear day, we will be able to observe the active fumaroles and lake at the bottom of the immense crater, one of the largest in the world. Thereafter, we'll visit La Paz Waterfall Garden, a place of great biodiversity, with five majestic waterfalls, the largest enclosed butterfly observatory in the world, trails with viewing platforms, and hummingbird and orchid gardens. In the late afternoon, we'll return to our hotel.
Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura ( B, L, D)

Day 3 - San José / Monteverde

After breakfast we'll depart for the Monteverde region, nestled in the Tilarán Mountain Range with views of the Gulf of Nicoya and Arenal Volcano. Originally settled in the 1950s by North American Quakers, the Monteverde area now holds nearly 30,000 hectares of private wildlife reserves. We will visit the Santa Elena Reserve, one of the first community-owned and administered reserves in Costa Rica, with 765 acres of pristine primary and secondary growth cloud forest. Here we'll look for birdlife, sloths and two species of monkeys.
Hotel de Montaña Monteverde (B, L, D)

Costa Rica sceneryDay 4 - Monteverde / Forest Canopy  Walk / Insect Museum Tour

This morning we'll enjoy a bird's eye view of the forest canopy from a combination of suspended bridges and platforms that wind their way through primary forest. After our morning hike we'll visit the Whitten Private Collection to see some of the world's largest and rarest butterflies, moths, beetles and spiders.
Hotel de Montaña Monteverde  (B, L, D)

Day 5 - Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Today we'll explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in Central America. In this enchanting forest, winds cause sheets of mist to envelope the reserve in a blanket of moisture. Many of the trees here are shrouded in moss and epiphytes, giving a magical feeling to the forest. This private reserve is home to the Resplendent Quetzal, considered the most spectacular bird of the Americas. We'll delight in the bromeliads, orchids and tree ferns of this misty cloud forest alive with over 400 species of birds. After a hike in the Reserve, we stop at the Hummingbird Gallery, where we find several species of hummingbirds attracted by feeders. In the afternoon, we'll tour a butterfly farm where hundreds of adult butterflies can be observed mating, laying eggs or simply fluttering by.
Hotel de Montaña Monteverde (B, L, D)

Day 6 - Monteverde / Guanacaste

We depart Monteverde on a fascinating downhill drive to the scenic Pacific Coast of Guanacaste. En route we'll stop at the Tenorio River and take a floating safari trip to see monkeys, iguanas and birdlife. We'll enjoy a typical Guanacaste lunch at La Pacifica, a combination ranch, dairy farm, ecological research center and low-impact resort. La Pacifica is known for its nature- and bird-watching walks along lush riverside trails. We'll proceed to the Mediterraneus Hotel located in Playa Potrero where we'll spend the next three nights.
Mediterraneus Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Guanacaste

Today we'll explore Santa Rosa, Costa Rica's first national park, which was founded to save an intriguing colonial homestead, "La Casona." This ranch played an important role in the country's fight to maintain its independence. A unique mosaic of dry savannas and tropical deciduous forests, the park includes stands of oak woodland with giant lineated and pale-billed woodpeckers, as well as laughing falcons and white-fronted parrots. Animals in the park include white-faced, howler and spider monkeys; white-tailed deer; armadillos and coatimundis. The park is also host to the seasonal mass arrival of thousands of olive ridley sea turtles, which lay their eggs in the sands of Santa Rosa's beaches.
Mediterraneus Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 8 - Guanacaste

After breakfast, we depart for the Hacienda Guachipelin, located at the foot of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, an active volcano in a period of relative calm, is composed of nine separate but contiguous volcanic craters. Today, we'll have a choice of two tour options: (1) a horseback ride through Rincón de La Vieja National Park to Las Chorreras Waterfall, where we can take a refreshing swim; or (2) a one-and-a-half-hour hike through Rincón de la Vieja National Park to see volcanic bubbling mud pots and steaming fumaroles. Afterward, we'll relax over a poolside barbeque lunch to compare our day's adventures.
Mediterraneus Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 9 - Guanacaste / San José

We'll depart through the beautiful Central Valley back to San José, with a stop on the way at the town of Sarchi, which is famous for its artisans who design intricately detailed and hand-painted oxcarts and create a variety of wooden handicrafts. Tonight we gather for a festive farewell dinner.
Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura (B, L, D)

Day 10 - San José / USA

After breakfast, we'll transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for our return flights home.

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Program Fees

Adult Rate:
Per person based on adult double occupancy


Child Rate:
Ages 8-12 sharing with an adult


Teen Rate:
Ages 13-17 sharing with another teen or adult …


Third Person
Applies only to the third person sharing the room

$120 less

Single Supplement
NOTE: Applies when there is only one adult in the room, with or without children (ages 8-12)


Sample Coach Airfare from Miami …
**As of July 2008. Airfares are subject to change and prices vary among carriers.


Note:  Due to the high demand for Holiday flights to Costa Rica, all families are encouraged to make their airline reservations prior to July 2009.

Price Includes:

Price Does Not Include: International and U.S. domestic airfare (quoted separately); international departure tax; meals not specified in the itinerary; alcoholic beverages other than wine or beer at welcome and farewell dinner; airport transfers for those not on group flights; personal items such as laundry, fax or telephone calls, bottled water, liquor, dishes and beverages not part of included meals, room service, passport fees, airline baggage charges, individual transfers, medical expenses, travel insurance, optional extensions or deviations from the scheduled tour.

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How To Register

Ready to register? The best way to do this is by phone so that we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us toll free at 866-765-2646. Or e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve your spot. Initial invoicing will be done upon registration. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure (October 27).

Deposits can be made via Visa, MasterCard, American Express, check, or wire transfer. Checks will need to be made payable directly to the travel provider, Royal Adventures. We will provide you with this information, along with a mailing address.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.

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General Terms & Conditions


Deposits and Final Payment: Deposits may be charged to a credit card. Final payment is due October 5, 2009, and must be paid by check payable to the operator, Royal Adventures. Royal Adventures handles all bookings, ticketing and invoicing. CST #2009579-40

Cancellations and Refunds: Refunds, less a cancellation fee of $350 per person, are made if we are notified in writing on or before October 5, 2009. No refunds are made after that date. All cancellations must be made in writing. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations or other trip features.

Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. An application for trip cancellation insurance will be available upon confirmation. Neither Cavalier Travels nor Royal Adventures accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable airline ticket or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for the tour.

Questions: Please call or e-mail Cavalier Travels at 866-765-2646 or 434-243-4984; E-mail; or call Briana Gerot, Royal Adventures (925) 820-6260 or 1-800-453-4754.

Responsibilities: Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40), its owners and employees, act only as agents for the various independent suppliers and contractors providing transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services connected with this tour. Such travel and services are subject to the terms and conditions under which such accommodations, services and transportation are offered or provided, and the University of Virginia and Royal Adventures and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability therefore. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures assume no liability for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or other irregularity which may be caused by the defect of any aircraft or vehicle or the negligence or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out or performing any of the services involved. Additionally, responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, strikes, local laws, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws of the country in which they are provided. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures reserve the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their sole judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience or safety of the tour participants. They reserve the right to withdraw this tour without penalty. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour, or to substitute another qualified leader or special guest. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. The price of the program is given in good faith based on current tariffs and rates, and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, security surcharge or fuel increases will be passed on to participants. Neither the University of Virginia nor Royal Adventures accepts the liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable airline ticket. The air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release.

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