2018 EMGV Study Tour to Costa Rica

NC State Extension Master Gardener 

International Study Program 

February 22 – March 1, 2018

Image from Wikipedia

LAND ONLY PACKAGE PRICE (Airfare is not included): 

  • Register:  $2,495/person double occupancy. Includes hotels, entrance fees to all attractions, and most meals,
    • Only NC EMGVs and their families may register before September 1, 2017.  If there are slots available after September 1st, EMGVs across the country may register.
  • $600 upgrade to single occupancy
  • $1,000 deposit holds your reservation with balance due 90 days before travel
  • For more info, contact Kari Laudano at (573) 303-2872 or email at kari@hiddentreasurestours.com

Itinerary NC EMGV Costa Rica Study Tour 2018

  • Day 1 (Thursday, Feb. 22nd): Arrival in Juan Santamaría International Airport. In the late afternoon, group orientation at the hotel. After arriving at the Juan Santamaria International Airport, you will have the remainder of the day to relax and take photographs. The Garden Club of Costa Rica recently recognized the the Hotel Bougainvillea as the “Best Garden of Costa Rica”Meals included: dinner at the hotel .Lodging: Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Day 2 (Friday, Feb 23rd ): Morning drive to Cartago, visiting Irazú Volcano National Park, an active volcano, where the trail leads all the way to the rim of the crater. Please be advised that the air will have a Sulphur scent, which although not overwhelming, is noticeable.  Drive to the valley of Orosí, visiting a local market. Late afternoon arrival to the hotel.Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging : Hotel Río Perlas.
  • Day 3 (Saturday, Feb 24th): This morning you will have some free time to enjoy the thermal water pools of the hotel.  After lunch, visit to Sólo Rosas, a private garden with over 500 species of roses from all over the world. After this, drive back to San José, stopping at Mrs. Ileana Terán’s home for a visit to her private garden and enjoy coffee.Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging: Hotel Bougainvillea.
  • Day 4 (Sunday, Feb 25th):
    La Paz Waterfall Gardens

    La Paz Waterfall Gardens

    Today, drive up the mountains to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens : Walk through beautiful orchid and hummingbird gardens on your way to the magnificent waterfalls. Three kilometers of serpentine paved trails allow visitors to experience and photograph the forest as they wind through both cloud and rainforest. It has the world’s largest enclosed Butterfly Observatory covering 18,000 sq ft with many species of colorful native Costa Rican butterflies, plants and animals. In addition you will likely see jungle cats, hummingbirds and other birds, snakes, frogs, monkeys and more. Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging: Hotel Bougainvillea.

  • Day 5 (Monday, Feb 26th):Morning visit to Sibü Chocolates where you will taste your way through the history of chocolate with Julio and George, the master chocolatiers.After this, drive to the Central Pacific Coast, stopping on the way at the Orchid Garden, where you will have lunch and enjoy a walk in the garden.Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging: Hotel San Bada
  • Day 6 (Tuesday, Feb 27th) :Morning visit to Manuel Antonio National Park which was listed by Forbes among the world’s 12 most beautiful national parks.Free afternoon to enjoy the beach or relax at the hotel.Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging: Hotel San Bada
  • Day 7 (Wednesday, Feb 28th):Morning visit to Villa Vanilla, for the Rainforest Spices tour, where you will experience de sight, tastes and scents of vanilla, cinnamon, pepper and other tropical spices, essential oils plants and a wide variety of ornamental plants. After lunch, drive back to San José, where you will have some free time to enjoy the gardens of Hotel Bougainvillea and get ready for your flight back home.Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Lodging: Hotel Bougainvillea.
  • Day 8 (Thursday, Mar 1st):Breakfast at the hotel, and transfer to the SJO international airport
One of many butterflies from Costa Rica Photo by A. Robertson

One of many butterflies from Costa Rica
Photo by A. Robertson

Information on the 2017 Trip

Information on the 2016 Trip

Reviews from previous participants:

  • “Absolutely Phenomenal”
  • “The trip was amazing in every way!”
  • “The best and most fun activities ever! Well planned and executed. . . really hard to choose a best because each outing was so much fun.”
  • “Wonderful! Great learning experience!”
  • “Couldn’t be happier. A wonderful experience. Took just over 1,000 photos”

Begin Preparing Now!

  • Begin saving now.
  • Begin getting is shape for walking up and down hills so you will enjoy opportunities for moderate hikes when we get there.
  • Be sure that your Passport will extend at least six months beyond the return date
  • Registration Form

Resources to Prepare for the trip

Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora by Willow Zuchowski

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel

Monkeys are Made of Chocolate by Jack Ewing

What to Know Before You Go
Visit your doctor four to six weeks before your trip to ensure you have all the vaccines or medicines you may need.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Information for Travelers to Costa Rica

Vaccination Needle
Routine Vaccinations

Check with your Primary Care Physician to confirm you have received routine vaccinations:

  • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine,
  • diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine,
  • varicella (chickenpox) vaccine,
  • polio vaccine, and
  • yearly flu shot

Your Primary Care Physician will advise you on which additional vaccinations are required. Most travelers receive the following vaccinations prior to traveling in Costa Rica.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

These are recommended to prevent illness from unlikely exposure to contaminated food or water. We do not anticipate visiting any places with unclean drinking water or exposure to contaminants.


Ask a guide about the water conditions in each area before drinking tap water or eating raw vegetables or food from roadside vendors. Bottled water will be made available to you daily.

What To Pack

Clothes – Comfortable

  • Layers
  • Long sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Long Pants (light weight, quick to dry)
  • Rain Gear (Umbrella, Jacket)
  • Sun Hat
  • Shoes that can be worn in wet places
  • Hiking Boots or other sturdy closed toed shoes for walking


  • 1 Credit Card (Master Card, or Visa)
  • 1 Debit Card
  • NO Travelers Checks
  • Notify your bank that you will be traveling in Costa Rica so they do not put a stop on your card when charges show up that are outside your normal range.
  • Save cash for the $40 Costa Rican export tax you will pay when you leave.


  • Leave a copy with a friend or relative
  • Bring your passport
  • Bring a xerox copy of your passport to give to Charlotte Glen & Shawn Banks, Trip Coordinators.


  • Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
  • Small Flashlight
  • “Unlocked” cell phone
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Anti-Diarrhea Medicine
  • Day Pack / Fanny Pack
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Portable clothes line, pins and laundry soap
  • Journal

Be sure to leave a list of what you packed at home, in case your suitcase is stolen.


Preparing to Go
U.S. Passports & International Travel, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

  • Alerts & Warnings
  • Quick Facts
  • Assistance for US Citizens
  • Embassies and Consulates
  • County Description
  • Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws, Special Circumstances
  • Health
  • Travel & Transportation
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Central Intelligence Agency World FactBook – Costa Rica

  • Introduction
  • Geography
  • People and Society
  • Government
  • Economy
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Military
  • Transnational Issues

Things to Expect

  • Some places charge you to use the restroom ($0.80 – $3.00)
  • Sometimes the toilet paper is in the bathroom rather than in the individual stall.
  • Many places request that you put toilet paper in the trashcan rather than in the toilet.

Many people speak English, but everyone appreciates it when you speak Spanish, here are a few useful phrases:

  • Please – Por Favor
  • Thank you – Gracias
  • You are welcome – Con Gusto or de nada or mucho gusto
  • Pleased to Meet you – Mucho Gusto
  • Where is the restroom? Donde esta el bano

There are lots of on-line translators like google translate

Consider brushing up ahead of time with a class or computer program like Rosetta Stone.



  • Many of the places we stay will have WiFi.
  • If you bring an “unlocked” cell phone, for less than $15 you can purchase a sim card in Costa Rica and prepay minutes so you can make calls within Costa Rica (this does not allow you to make calls outside of Costa Rica).
  • If you purchase a Voice over Internet Plan (VoIP) like “Magic Jack”, http://www.magicjack.com/index.html then you can load an App on your phone and anywhere you have access to WiFi you can make phone calls to the continental USA and Canada for free.


Registration Form

Hosted by

  • Charlotte Glen, NC State
  • Shawn Banks,  NC State

Tour being Coordinated in part by Hidden Treasures Tours

For more information, contact Kari Laudano at (573) 303-2872

Or email kari@hiddentreasurestours.com

Back to NC State EMGV International Travel Page










Written By

Photo of Dr. Lucy BradleyDr. Lucy BradleyExtension Urban Horticulture Specialist (919) 513-2001 lucy_bradley@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
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