Of all places to experience the rainforest, Costa Rica comes to mind as one of the best choices for families of any age. Small rainforest lodges with excellent guides and creative cooks dot the country and travel times are rarely longer than three hours. Some of these lodges have developed special programs for families traveling with children. For tours including whitewater rafting, the minimum age for rafting the Revantazon River (class II - III) is 10 and the minimum age for the Pacuare River (class III-IV) is 14. A great alternative for families with younger children is an upgrade to the Rainforest Aerial Tram.
A few suggested tours…
Turtles and Rainforest:
As the name suggests, this tour is a great choice for families who enjoy wildlife and outdoor activities. At the turtle reserve, children have the opportunity to participate in the turtle breeding programs- catching the turtle eggs as they are being lain or helping the turtle hatchlings dig their way free to the surface. The rainforest offers educational walks, horseback riding, canopy tours, and more. Both lodges are relatively remote and do not have electricity. Prepare your children that these lodges do not have TV, music, video games, etc.
Beaches and Rainforest:
This tour has a multi-sport focus with a flexible itinerary that allows your family to choose from a variety of activities to fill each day- horseback riding, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, mountain biking. It is a nice Costa Rica vacation choice for families with varying ages and interests as each traveler can choose the activities that interest him/ her most. Again, the lodges do not have electricity so prepare the kids for outdoor fun instead!
For more information on this tour, check out the article "Costa Rica: A Family Adventure Mecca" in the Fall/ Winter 2002 issue of Family Adventure Magazine written by Adventure Life's director, Brian Morgan.
Earth, Fire and Water:
This tour is a great choice for families with younger kids who still want to experience a variety of Costa Rica environments- beach, rainforest, volcano, cloudforest, etc. in a relatively short time. Transfers are not especially long and Tiskita, the rainforest/ beach lodge where you will spend the first half of the tour, has a number of activities designed especially for kids.