hot springsat its base. On a clear night, it may be possible to see the spectacular orange glow of lava flowing. Spend the night in San Carlos, the agriculture capital of the north.
riding horsebackfrom the Arenal area toward the lush cloud forest of Monteverde. Your bags will travel by bus and will meet you in Monteverde. Anyone unable to ride on horseback may travel on the touring bus. Arrive at your destination with a new understanding of how the local native populations traveled.
Monteverde Canopy Tour, enjoying views from a series of platforms, suspension bridges and thrilling zip-lines.
Optional Extensions and Extra Nights:
Further immerse yourself in the culture and wonders of Costa Rica with an extra night in San José, including the services of your ACIS Tour Manager.
The trip exceeded my expectations!
Denise always is very organized and gives her groups many appreciated activities. Our tour guide, Herson, was excellent and we learned so much from him about the country and the different species of animals and birds we saw. He was very professional
wonderful trip. wonderful guide, knowledgeable, amusing, caring.
I really liked our trip. The tour guide was excellent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The buses were comfortable, and the activities were interesting. I especially liked the nature hikes and boat tour to see all the wildlife.
For me, this year was all about watching the students' faces as they experienced new things.....they truly were in awe. I'm so amazed at how small the world is when we just take that effort to see other cultures, habitats, and learn from other people, and I hope that is what was exposed to these students.
Group Leader 2009
What to See
Plaza Esmeralda, Pavas
Both a working jewelry factory and a shopping center, you can purchase replicas of pre-Columbian jewelry here, along with many other souvenirs. There is also a short guided tour to see some of the jewelry being made.
La Casona, Calle Central
This large complex has many stalls with a wide selection of local goods and items. Many vendors also sell crafts imported from other Central American country.
Atmósfera, Calle 5
This gallery has a great selection of Indian wall hangings and paintings. It is also is one of the few stores in the city that carries the woodwork of Barry Biesanz.
Suraksa, Calle 5
If you're looking for gold work, Suraksa has a good selection of pieces done in Pre-Columbian style, as well as fine ceramic ware.
Annemarie's Boutique, Hotel Don Carlos, Calle 9
This boutique is more than the typical hotel lobby gift shop. It is open to the public and has fair prices on its wide selection of Costan Rican souvenirs.
Museu Nacional de Costa Rica, Calle 17
Costa Rica’s most important historical museum is housed in a former army barracks from the early 1900’s. Located in San José between Avenues Central and 2, on the Plaza de la Democracia.
Museo de Jade, Avenida 7, Calles 9 & 11
Perhaps Costa Rica's most famous museum, you'll be able to see the world's largest collection of jade. Many of the pieces are mounted with a backlight in order to enhance the translucent quality of these precious gems. In addition, there are also archaeological exhibits of gold, stonework and other ceramics. Open Mon-Fri.
Serpentario, Avenida 1, Calles 9 & 11
Right in the center of San José is this small, but unusual collection of live snakes and other reptiles! A bilingual biologist is available to explain the exotic Costa Rican species on display.
Zip Lining Excursion
There are many options for zip lining treks through the Costa Rican canopies in the jungle/rainforest. Usually half-day or full-day options are available. Costa Rica is a great place to take advantage of one of these exciting adventure trips!
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
The Waterfall Gardens are impressive and the site also contains a coffee plantation, butterfly observatory, hummingbird garden, and more. This is a great place to experience the lush Costa Rican rainforest.
Parque La Sabana
This park is home to both the musuem of Costa Rican art and the national stadium. It's a beautiful and spacious area, with a lagoon, fountain and sport facilities. If you have time for a relaxing picnic in San José, this is the park to go to.
Whapin’, Barrio Escalanta, East of the Farolito in San Pedro
This fun spot is decorated like the Caribbean coast and has a menu typical of that of the area. Try the classic rice and beans cooked in coconut milk! Reservations are recommended during busy seasons and prices are reasonable.
This eclectic restaurant is in the Hotel Alta, on the old rold to Santa Ana. They serve all kinds of international and ethnic cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as a nice Sunday brunch.
Café Mundo, Calle 15 and Av. 9
Locals frequent this place because of the unique and lively atmosphere. The café takes up several rooms in a former colonial mansion, with additional seating on the open veranda.
La Vasconia, Avenida 1, Calle 5
Open daily and with plenty of local atmosphere, La Vasconia is a nice place to go for a quick meal. On some nights, musicians stroll in and play for a while.
Café Mariscar, Avenida Central, Calle 7 & 9
This is a popular grilled-chicken place with an open-air bar and local music. It is popular amongst young ticos and travelers on the go.
Soda Tapia, Calle 42, Av. 2 and 4
On the east side of La Sabana Park, across from the Museo de Arte Coastarricense, you'll find Soda Tapia, one of the most popular "sodas" in the country. Locals meet here for a simple and quick lunch, and you'll enjoy it as well because it's inexpensive and dependable.
Donde Carlos, San Pedro
This fairly new restaurant is an Argnetinian Steakhouse that serves large portions and has a nice second floor balcony with outdoor seating.
Vishnu, Avenida 1, between Calles 1 and 3
When you're in downtown San Jose and are looking for a place to get a quick vegetarian meal, head on over to Vishnu to try the plato del dia - it's a great bargain!
Curious about travel with ACIS? Find out answers to your burning questions below.
For Group Leaders and Teachers:see all FAQs
Certainly. You have three different options:
Family members or colleagues may travel as assistants (even if minors, though children must be five years or older to travel in an ACIS group), according to the terms of the Group Leader Stipend Chart.* Assistants must be 21 years old and have at least five participants to their name to be eligible for the Experience Bonus.
Family members or colleagues may take a 20% discount from the program fee. These participants will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. Like all paying participants, they are subject to mandatory fees (registration, tax, etc.) as well as full payment deadlines.
3. $150 Child Discount
For children under the age of 12, you may take a flat $150 Child Discount (plus the 20% Family/Colleague Discount) off their program fee, but they will still be subject to mandatory fees. The child's registration will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. The minimum age to travel with an ACIS group is five years old.
*Anyone can become an assistant to the group, provided they have at least one full-paying participant to their credit.
Can a paying participant become an assistant?
Yes. This must be done no later than 65 days before departure and an ACIS Assistant Registration Form must be submitted. Assistants added or canceled within 90 days of departure will be charged a $100 late fee payable either by the applicable assistant or the group leader. Please inform us immediately of these changes in writing.
What if my assistant must cancel?
Please inform ACIS immediately. We regret that if the cancellation occurs within 65 days of departure, we will charge the canceling assistant a $150 late cancellation fee and may not be able to accommodate a substitute assistant. If the cancellation is within 45 days of departure, the assistant must pay a $250 late cancellation fee (see ACIS Assistant Registration Form for policy) and their stipend credits are not transferable. Please always alert us in writing as soon as possible when an assistant cancels.
Do I receive travel insurance as a group leader?
Every ACIS Group Leader receives coverage under our most enhanced protection plan, the Ultimate Protection Plan complimentary for any tour they lead.
What if the group leader must cancel?
A mutual effort is made to find a qualified substitute teacher or other adult who will assume full group leader responsibilities. Participants who choose not to travel with the replacement group leader are subject to the standard cancellation/refund policy
Can I stay on after my group returns home?
Yes. An Alternate Return Request Form must be completed and returned to ACIS no later than 90 days before departure. You will be responsible for any additional flight costs, and must arrange for a responsible adult (preferably an assistant) to take charge of your group on the flight home. You must obtain written permission from a parent/guardian of each participant, naming the adult in charge. There will be a $150 charge for any change made within 90 days of departure, and no changes are possible within 65 days.
Can I stay in a single room?
Single accommodations are provided free of charge for group leaders who have eight or more paying participants counted to their credit AND who do not travel with a spouse or an assistant of the same sex. For those traveling in 2010/2011, see our Service Guarantee. In the unlikely event that a single room is not available, ACIS will reimburse you $20 per hotel night. Eligibility for the single room is based on the standard 1:6 prorate and is non-transferable. If the above does not apply, you may also elect to pay a surcharge of $40 per hotel night for a single room. Single rooms are not available aboard cruise ships, overnight ferries or trains, in China, Africa, Russia and most residence programs.
For Students and Parents:see all FAQs
ACIS groups travel on scheduled flights, using all the major carriers. These include American Airlines, Air France, Aerolineas Argentinas, Alitalia, Finnair, British Airways, British Midland Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Iberia, Spanair, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines Ltd., Northwest, Air New Zealand, Olympic Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Taca International Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, United Airlines, US Airways, Air Europa, and Virgin Atlantic. You'll receive flight information as your departure date approaches.
How many people travel in a group?
ACIS groups average anywhere from 35 to 45 participants traveling together on a bus, led by an ACIS Tour Manager. Small groups are often combined to create one bus group. This is the group with whom you share your travel experience. You eat your meals together, stay in the same accommodations, and travel together on the bus. It's an opportunity to make lifelong friendships!
Tell us more about the tour manager.
"Tour manager" is an important term in educational travel. It refers to your bus group leader, who is rigorously trained and specially selected to assist your group while overseas. ACIS Tour Managers are famous for their multifaceted roles, both educational and logistical. An ACIS Tour Manager is part commentator, counselor, troubleshooter, advocate, and stopwatch! He or she supervises hotel check-ins, directs the bus driver and leads educational activities.
Most importantly, ACIS Tour Managers are travel gurus. They thrive on sharing their passion and love for the cultures of the world, giving you the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of those who live and work there. Over the years, we've employed university professors, film directors, journalists, musicians, business professionals, and other creative achievers. Our tour managers are consistently recognized as top in the industry. You'll receive more information about your tour manager as your departure date approaches.
Your ACIS Tour Manager maintains a professional relationship with the group but is not directly responsible for enforcing discipline or the ACIS behavior guidelines. That is the responsibility of the your group leader. It is your tour manager's responsibility, however, to report to your group leader any infractions and to be sure that ACIS behavior guidelines are adhered to.
Where do we stay?
ACIS groups stay in three- and four-star conveniently located hotels. We place a priority on booking hotels in good locations and safe areas, with convenient access to both local attractions and public transportation.
Students generally stay in rooms with two or three beds. During peak travel periods, hotels sometimes add an extra bed to accommodate heavy bookings. ACIS attempts to prevent this but cannot guarantee that it will never happen. Some hotel rooms in France have a Grand Lit (an oversize double bed for two) instead of twin beds. Those who have paid the adult surcharge stay in double rooms in hotels but not on overnight ferries or trains.
An ACIS bus group is typically made up of two, three, or four groups from around the U.S. who quickly get to know each other and feel part of one overall group. Depending on the mix of male and female students in the bus group, students may be rooming with participants from other groups. Don't worry, this is a great way to meet new people and make some new friends!
The group leader will create a variety of rooming combinations before you leave, in order to make it easier for your tour manager to work out the rooming when you check in to your hotel.
Check-in time at most hotels is early to mid-afternoon. If you arrive overseas early in the morning, you likely have time to change money and do some exploring before you check in.
What will we have to eat?
You will enjoy a variety of meals en route, mixing both native and familiar cuisines depending on your area of travel. Keep an open mind and be willing to sample everything—that's what travel is all about!
Most days you will be served a continental breakfast that includes a variety of fresh rolls, cereal, pastry, butter and jam, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. In Australia and China, you will be served an American-style hot buffet breakfast. On trips to the Americas you may be served the traditional rice and beans. In some hotels in Britain, eggs or other items may be included. In Europe, the larger hotels sometimes serve eggs and other American-style breakfast items for an extra charge.
On most ACIS trips, you will enjoy lunch on your own. Be adventurous and experiment. Many travelers do what the locals do; instead of having an expensive restaurant meal, they buy fresh ingredients at a local market, then put together a sandwich and have a picnic lunch in a city park.
On most tours, beverages at dinner are not included. The are included on tours to China, Costa Rica, Peru, and occasionally other destinations. Sometimes your waiter may put soda or mineral water down on the table without being asked. Be aware that you will be charged for any beverages you consume.
Although ACIS will try to accommodate special-needs meals including kosher, vegetarian and low salt, we cannot guarantee all requests.
How much spending money will I need?
Spending needs vary depending on personal habits, but a typical allowance is $50 per day. This allows for lunch, snacks, soft drinks, postage, souvenirs, local transportation during free time, free-time activities, and optional excursions not already included in your itinerary. Most ACIS participants carry ATM cards, travelers checks and credit cards. ACIS has compiled all the information you need to know in Money Matters.
What should I pack?
Our advice is to pack light—you won't regret it! You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage on and off the bus, in and out of your hotel, and onto trains. Bring comfortable, practical clothes that you can wear more than once, with a few nice pieces thrown in.
Remember to pack clothes that you can layer as the weather can be unpredictable. Lastly, try to avoid bringing new shoes. New shoes can be tough to break in and you’ll want to make sure your shoes are comfortable and reliable. For more information specific to your trip, log into My Account for a detailed packing list.
What about calling home?
Calling home from overseas can be expensive and obtaining local phone cards can be complicated and time consuming. The best way to call is with an ACIS eKit Global Phonecard or Global Mobile Phone. Using the eKit card can save you up to 70% on international and U.S. long distance calls compared to pay phones and hotel phones. Simply charge up your eKit card with the credit card of your choice and it will be ready for use. In addition to cheap calls home, the ACIS eKit Global Phonecard offers you email, Voicemail, the ability to listen to email over the phone and much more!
Another option is the ACIS eKit Global Mobile phone. With a variety of pre-paid plans available, this mobile phone can save you up to 70% on global roaming rates.
Do I have travel insurance?
Yes. Your ACIS Registration Fee includes coverage under our Basic Protection Plan. ACIS recommends you upgrade your insurance coverage by purchasing the Ultimate Protection Plan designed specifically for you travel needs. With the Ultimate Protection Plan, you may cancel for any reason up to the day of departure and receive a cash refund. You will also receive expanded travel protection while on tour.
I am signed up for an ACIS tour. How do I access my account?
You can get your latest account information online—any time, any day. To view your most up-to-date itinerary and account status, just, log in to My Account with your Account ID and password, which can be found in the upper-right hand corner of your invoice. If you have forgotten your password or have additional questions about your account, contact ACIS Client Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.