Costa Rica: Short Programs (3 - 5 days)
Costa Rica 3 - 5 day adventures that can be taken individually or combined to visit Tortuguero Park, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest or the remote South Pacific beach region.
Daily departures based on 2 persons
Tortuguero - Mawamba / Laguna or Evergreen Lodge
3 days/2 nights: $ 495 USD per person based on twin share
Arenal Obervatory Lodge and Monteverde Reserve
5 days/4 nights: $ 1,195 USD per person based on twin share
Remote Southern Costa Rica ~ Osa Peninsula / Corcovado National Park / Cano Island
4 days / 3 nights: $ 1,490 USD per person based on twin sharing including domestic airfare
Tortuguero - Mawamba / Laguna or Evergreen Lodge
3 days/2 nights
Tour cost: $ 495 USD per person based on twin share
Day 1: Morning pick up for your drive through Braulio Carillo National Park to the canals lining the Atlantic Coast where you board a boat for the trip to the Tortuguero Canals through 50 km of tropical rain forest. Late afternoon arrival at Tortuguero. Dinner and overnight. (LD)Day 2: Enjoy touring Tortuguero National Park with a local guide to observe the flora and fauna. Included in this package you will enjoy a boat trip of 2-3 hours through the canals and back water lagoons of Tortuguero National Park. Expect to see beautiful shorebirds, monkeys and sloths. On your own you may wish to hire a boat for additional exploration, or just hike along the beach or visit the village of Tortuguero. (BLD)
Day 3: Following morning after breakfast return to San Jose by boat to the dock near Limon, then overland past Braulio Carrillo again. (BL)
Note: You may choose to fly back to San Jose (at additional cost), or from Siquirres continue south to Puerto Viejo or Gondoca Manzanillo (southern Caribbean coast area).
Arenal Obervatory Lodge and Monteverde Reserve
5 days/4 nights
Tour cost: $ 1,195 USD per person based on twin share.
Single supplement $ 270
Depart on Saturdays and save $ 230
This program can also be shortened to a 4 days adventurefor $ 890 per person
Day 1: COCORA GARDENS; TRANSFER TO ARENAL VOLCANO
Your journey will begin by traveling northwest along the Interamerican Highway for an hour or so and then turning off to head north through the town of San Ramon. Here you will take a short break and visit the community’s San Ramon Agriculture Town Market. This market offers a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables, including some that are rarely seen outside the tropics. Depending on the season, visitors may encounter the farmers’ stands with familiar and delicious! local varieties of bananas, mangoes, and pineapples; as well as lesser-known cassavas, carambolas, mamon chinos, guanabanas, tamarinds, cas, guayabas, annonas, papayas, plantains and others.
After taking a break at the market, you will continue on with a visit to the Cocora Private Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens en route to Arenal Volcano. Cocora is located in the cloud forest belt at 3000 feet elevation. Cloud forests are dominated by dense vegetation and tall trees covered by carpets of mosses, lichens, ferns, bromeliads and orchids. A beautiful butterfly garden offers the visitor attractive tropical plants and colorful butterflies. One may see giant Blue Morphos, Zebra Butterflies, Small Postman, Glasswings, Monarchs, Julias, Owl butterflies, “Halloween” Butterflies, wing-snapping Crackers (yes, the male butterlies make noise!), Brown peacocks, Giant Swallowtails, Sulphurs and other species. You may also find rare hummingbirds like Green Thorntail, Coppery-headed Emerald and White-bellied Mountain-gem.
Lunch at Doña Mara´s House. In the foothills of the mountain range adjacent to Arenal volcano lives Doña Mara Rojas. She is a housewife (or domestic engineer as she prefers to say) who has lived all her life in Chachagua. Her husband Edgar is from Guanacaste and has worked as a chofer in the tourism industry and now works with the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity. They have seven children although only their youngest son Geraldo still lives with them at home. In their backyard, typical of rural homesteads in the area, they have several orange trees, coconut palms and one cacao tree (the source of chocolate). After lunch you will continue on to your Arenal area hotel, travelling in the north central lowlands of Costa Rica among plantations of tropical crops and cattle ranches. (L)
Hotel: Arenal Observatory Lodge or Arenal Springs
Day 2: FORTUNA WATERFALLS & DANAUS ECOLOGICAL CENTER
In the morning you will visit La Fortuna Waterfalls. Located just 3 miles away from the town of La Fortuna, this beautiful 200 foot-tall waterfall receives its cool clear waters from the pristine forested mountains of Arenal National Park. En route and near the falls one may see parrots, toucans and tropical hummingbirds. The steep trail to the waterfall goes down through dense, lush rain forest and ends at a large pool at the base of the falls. In addition to seeing a majestic waterfall in a beautiful setting, visitors to the falls are helping the local community. The fees collected are used for important community projects such as supporting area schools, buying books, and helping cover some of the expenses for the town orphanage. Additionally funds are used for recycling projects, maintenance of the community water supply, improvement of the local roads and sidewalks and construction of an educational center.
Later you will have lunch at a Local Organic Farm in the town of La Fortuna. At the farm you will see how farming techniques can be practiced in an environmentally sound way. The farm produces more than 60 crop species, including native and introduced plants. With your guide, you will learn about many of the crops and the challenges and benefits of farming organically in the tropics.
After lunch you will have a natural history walk at the Danaus Ecological Center. This small biological reserve east of the town of La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano is a model of conservation. Visitors will see that it is possible to restore a rainforest. This reserve was once open farmland, but has been allowed to revert back to forest which now teems with wildlife. Slow-moving sloths live here, and along the main trail visitors may see a number of the 154 bird species recorded here. This trail passes by a small lake where boat-billed herons and alligator-like caiman reside. Tiny native red poison dart frogs can be seen in a little forest ranario (frog farm) and many different species of butterflies flit about the reserve. A nursery on the property is used to propagate native trees- including species in danger of extinction-for reforestation projects. (L)
Day 3: ARENAL HANGING BRIDGES; TRANSFER TO MONTEVERDE
Today you will visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges. This is a complex of suspended bridges and trails through a beautiful rain forest. The lush vegetation contains palms, heliconias and tall trees that you will view from ground level to above the tree tops as you meander along the trails and on the bridges. From some of the bridges there are also panoramic views of nearby Arenal Volcano. As you walk through the forest, you may encounter a variety of the forest wildlife, including toucans, motmots, trogons, poison dart frogs, howling monkeys, spider monkeys and white-faced capuchin monkeys.
After your rainforest bridges walk, you will travel up into the mountains on your way to Monteverde. Your journey will bring you through small rural Costa Rican villages passing coffee and dairy farms.
Monteverde is both a community and forest reserve. The world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve protects a mountain forest characterized by majestic trees densely covered by thick, wet and heavy “carpets” of epiphytes, including orchids and wild relatives of familiar tropical house plants – philodendrons, ferns and ficus trees.
The beautiful Resplendent Quetzal spends about ½ the year here and the forest is home to hundreds of other bird and mammal species.This private reserve has been intensely studied by scientists since its founding in 1972, and is the site of important pioneering research on the effects of climate change in tropical ecosystems. Several resident biologists are renowned experts on tropical bats, plants and amphibians. The reserve staff strives to educate international as well as local students about ecology and the importance of its conservation, and the reserve serves as an example of how a protected forest can be of great value to the region’s residents.
The communities outside the reserve include Monteverde, Cerro Plano, and Santa Elena. The small mountain farms of these towns are owned by “campesinos” (country farmers) who grow a small variety of crops. The most important farm products are organic coffee (which can be purchased in local stores) and milk for the local Monteverde Cheese Factory. The factory has been producing a variety of high-quality cheeses in Costa Rica since shortly after Quakers from the United States settled the area in 1950´s. Many visitors and local residents visit the cheese factory to buy cheese or enjoy their delicious milk shakes and ice cream! Near and around the community centers, a large selection of restaurants, and other visitor attractions are found, such as butterfly gardens, horse rentals, treetop forest canopy tours, an orchid garden, art galleries, and an excellent educational bat exhibit among others. Hotel: Fonda Vela
Day 4: MONTEVERDE RESERVE; SUGAR MILL & COFFEE TOUR
In the morning you will visit El Trapiche (‘sugar mill’) and Coffee Farm, that first began operation in 1948. The Monteverde Trapiche is run by a local family, and on your tour you will not only learn about the local process of making sugar, but also about the other most important agricultural products of the region. Your tour will be partly ‘hands-on,’ and your hosts may invite you to participate in the processing of the sugar cane! You will also have a short walk on the farm and see how tilapia fish are raised, and also learn about the production of coffee (and if in season, pick some). Following your walk, you will then take a ride back to the main building in a traditional farm ox cart! There you will enjoy a refreshment of sugar cane juice or lemonade, eat picadillo de arracache (a typical Costa Rican food) and make candy out of sugar cane (everyone makes their own candy!).
After lunch enjoy a guided visit to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, entrance fee included. Located in the Tilaran Mountain Range of Puntarenas Province, the Reserve is one of the premier natural history destinations in Costa Rica. Later in the afternoon the forest may be cool and misty from low cloud cover, so bring a light jacket for your walk.
The forest consists of lush, verdant vegetation containing understory palms, majestic canopy trees, arching “ropy” lianas, bizarre “strangler” fig trees and epiphytes-small plants that grow on the trees. Outstanding among the epiphytes are orchids-although most are small and high in the tree canopy, more orchid species are found in Monteverde for its size than any other place yet known (some 500!). As you walk through the forest, you may encounter a variety of wildlife. Frequently-sighted mammals include white-faced capuchin and howler monkeys, white-nosed coatis, two-toed sloths, kinkajous, and agoutis. Of the 400 bird species found in or nearby the reserve, outstanding species you may see include the legendary crimson and iridescent-green Resplendent Quetzal (which spends about ½ the year in the area during its breeding season from February or March to July), Emerald Toucanets, Black guans, Keel-billed toucans, Blue-crowned Motmots, Orange-bellied Trogons, Three-wattled Bellbirds (approximately April to August), and hummingbirds such as Purple-throated Mountain-gems, Violet Sabrewings, and Magenta-throated Woodstars. The wonderful songs of many of these birds will accompany you as you travel through the forest.
Day 5: TRANSFER TO SAN JOSE
Explore the main community of the area, Santa Elena, before going back to San Jose. You may just want to take advantage of banks and supermarkets or visit the local cheese factory, women’s cooperative (CASEM) or one of the many art and craft galleries to purchase some souvenirs or gifts for the folks back home. Local coffee, wood sculptures, embroidered clothing, and paintings by resident artists are just some of the offerings available.
Note: If your planning permits you can continue to the Beach without having to go back to San Jose.
Remote Southern Costa Rica
Osa Peninsula / Corcovado National Park / Cano Island ~ 4 days / 3 nights
Tour cost: $ 1,490 USD per person based on twin sharing including domestic airfare. Discounts are applied for low season May - October
Day 1: San Jose/Osa Peninsula (L,D)
Morning domestic flight to Palmar Sur. From Palmar Sur a 20-minute drive takes you to to Sierpe River where you board a riverboat for the trip down the Rio Sierpe to the Drake Bay area. The secluded Osa Peninsula is on the Southwest Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, adjacent to Corcovado National Park. On the northern part of the Osa Peninsula nestled near the banks of the Rio Agujitas is where Drake Bay is located. From the beach you can snorkel among the volcanic rock heads, enjoy the tidal pools, hike along the extensive beaches, visit the local village, take a guided tour to Corcovado National Park, horseback ride, scuba dive, swim or just relax.
Day 2: Corcovado National Park (B,L,D)
Corcovado National Park has been called "the most biologically intense place on earth" by National Geographic. This famous park is home to many large mammals, jaguar, tapir, ocelot, collared and white-lipped peccaries, giant anteaters and an incredible number of birds. Here visitors have the best chance to actually see this tropical wildlife, or at least have the thrill of seeing some recent sign of them and knowing that they are in the habitat of these majestic creatures. A full day exploring the area with your guide.
Day 3: Cano Island (B,L,D)
Boat tour to Cano Island. Along the beautiful coast we will keep an eye out for Dolphins as well as Humpback, Pilot and Killer Whales. After arriving at the island we will snorkel in the crystal clear waters, followed by a tasty picnic lunch. We offer several options for the second part of the trip: 1) Hike up the trails to the archeological cemetery where you learn about the significance of the stone spheres. 2) Another session of great snorkeling or 3) Stay on beach; as you prefer.
Day 4: Osa Peninsula/San Jose (B)
On the final morning return to San Jose by doing a reverse of the trip in.
Note: Depending on which lodge you stay for the next three nights, your transportation may vary somewhat; domestic flight may be operated directly to Drake Bay area airstrip.