Slots are filling up fast for the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum's first ever eco-trip to Costa Rica Feb. 8-16, 2018.
On the 9-day trip, guests will explore Costa Rica's rich habitats, national parks and private reserves. The expedition will be led by the Shell Museum's Science Director and Curator Jose H. Leal, Ph.D., Marine Biologist Stefanie Wolf and a local guide.
"This is the first eco travel-trip that the museum has put together. It's something that we have wanted to do for years so we're excited that it finally has come to fruition," Wolf said. "We wanted to take our love of mollusks to another part of the world and give people an opportunity to go to another country and have experiences that they might not otherwise have."
Manuel Antonio National Park.
Some of the highlights of the trip includes visiting Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge, Manuel Antonio National Park, Marino Ballena National Park, discussing Costa Rica's geological history while hiking Arenal Volcano National Park, exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and snorkeling at Cano Island.
"We'll be doing day hikes, night hikes, we'll be snorkeling and we'll be going to marine parks," Wolf said.
Wolf said the focus for this trip is to observe wildlife, not collect shells.
This isn't a shell collecting trip because it's against the law to take shells from Costa Rica. However, you may take as many pictures as you would like," Wolf said. "We wanted it to be a 'Leave no trace' kind of trip."
During the excursion, Dr. Leal will focus on discussing different types of terrestrial and marine mollusks that are seen while Wolf will have a larger emphasis on marine mammals and reptiles found along the Pacific Coast.
"In addition, the in-country guide will be extremely knowledgeable on the local geography, geology and biology of Costa Rica," Wolf said.
Wolf said one of the things she is looking forward to the most is learning more about the Pacific Coast.
"It's going to be very different, different elevations, different wildlife. This trip encompasses many different ecosystems," she said.
The cost for the trip is $3,350 per person. The cost includes $450 (estimated) roundtrip airfare from Fort Lauderdale, accommodations, meals, non-alcoholic beverages, entrance fees, activities, transportation, a guide donation to the museum and carbon offset. Cost does not include gratuities and personal items. There is room for only 15 people.
The price is based on double occupancy. Single rooms are available for $240 more. A $400 per person deposit and enrollment form are requested to secure a slot. This deposit is refundable excluding a $200 cancellation fee until Nov. 5, 2017 when non-refundable payments are due.
Wolf said that this will more than likely be the first of many eco-trips that the Shell Museum will lead.
"I have a good feeling that this is going to be a highly successful program and my hope is to increase our eco-travel program over time. So, whether it's going here (Costa Rica) every year or hopefully expanding to other places, I have a great feeling about it. We received a ton of positive feedback after the trip was announced," Wolf said.
To view the itinerary, go to holbrook.travel/shellmuseum-cr18.