Hard to believe but I’ve had students who had no clue as to the location of Costa Rica…nor many other places on our planet (or sometimes even places just in California!). One of my colleagues in the Biology Department gives a map of California on one of his exams – oh my goodness some of the gems that have come out of those maps. For instance, to one student, Sacramento is located where (in reality) Monterey is currently situated (hmmm…the lack of an ocean to our north or west didn’t seem to factor into this choice of locations)…or another student putting Lake Tahoe at the Salton Sea, or San Francisco at San Diego. Sort of explains how Carson, Leno, Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel, Ferguson, and others have gotten so much comic mileage out of ambushing people with geography questions!
So let’s get to the logistics of the trip…
- Passport? Yep, you’ll need one that is valid through your entire stay in Costa Rica please.
- Money? The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon but many places also accept U.S. dollars with no problem – you’ll just get your change in Colons.
- Flights? Nearly all major international airlines fly into San Jose, Costa Rica or have some sort of affiliation with another airline that does. From Sacramento, three airlines serve San Jose: American, United, and Delta. Prices have fluctuated based on the day and time of purchase and I have seen fares as low as around $700 to as high as $1,000 depending upon airline, date checked, and even time checked. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to check…as far as time, I haven’t worked out any correlations on that at this time.
- Tips for Guides? I will be taking care of tips to guides at the normal rate. A normal rate of 10% tip is minimally expected for guiding services with the amount going higher if we have a great experience. In many of my other trips, people have chosen to add to the normal tip to express their pleasure with a particular guide – we can do that again for this trip. For restaurants, up to you on what you’d like to tip.
- Rain? Well…we are going to be in a Tropical Rainforest so yep, you should expect some rain periodically. During 2013 we were getting rain sometimes in the late afternoon and evening. It does help to cool things down and interestingly knocks down the humidity a bit…at least until it stops raining and the sun comes back out. Light rain gear is highly, highly recommended unless plastic garbage bags are your style of choice. Bring an UMBRELLA…it’s a nice, quick shelter for those periodic downpours. WEATHER UPDATE (7/4/2015): Looking into the ol’ proverbial Crystal Ball can be challenging for weather predictions, but looking at the current and 10-day weather forecast shows lots of rain with every day having about an 80% chance of some rain. So, be prepared please.
- Climate? July is a good time to go to Costa Rica during the summer. Precipitation averages are 11-inches for June, 7.1-inches for July, and 10.9-inches for August. Average high temperatures in July are 81-degrees and average low temperatures are 64-degrees (keep in mind that Costa Rica is a pretty mountainous country).
- Language? Spanish is the official language of Costa Rica. Pretty much all of the places we will go to will have very good English speakers. In fact, Costa Rican children must take a second language in primary school…most often English.
- Miscellaneous Information. Tourism in CR earns more money than bananas and coffee combined. In the category of Natural Resources, CR ranks sixth in the world. In the 2014 Global Green Economy Index, CR ranks third out of sixty countries. In the category of Sustainable Tourism, CR is the top performing country. Costa Rica intends to be 100% Carbon Neutral by 2021. In 2012, CR produced more than 90% of its electricity through renewable sources – and this year (2015) Costa Rica so far has not generated any greenhouse gases while producing their electricity…with the expectation that they will produce 98% of their power in 2015 without generating greenhouse gases – WOW! CR has passed laws to provide direct financial incentives to landowners for the provision of environmental services…thus reorienting the forestry sector away from commercial timber production and to sustainable approaches to forestry practices.