Costa Rica’s stunning national parks are endowed with some of the greatest flora and fauna in the world, including a number of rare and elusive species like the quetzal. Explore Manuel Antonio National Park in the company of one who knows it best – a local guide. Caffeine-lovers will enjoy learning about the coffee-making process – from crop to cup – at a family-owned farm in Monteverde. Even better, you get to sample a cup!. Discover untouched forests at Monteverde, widely regarded as one of the world’s most outstanding tropical cloud forests and wildlife sanctuaries
Few places offer the ability to immerse yourself in nature like Costa Rica. One of the most biodiverse countries in the world, a quarter of its land is covered in protected rainforest teeming with rare and exotic wildlife. Spot sloths, toucans and elusive quetzals as you explore the misty canopy of Monteverde’s famous cloud forest. Hike the lush Manuel Antonio National Park and you just might come face-to-face with a capuchin monkey; then take to the water for a scenic sunset sail as whales and dolphins make themselves known. With ample opportunity to relax and simply take in the gorgeous scenery, this journey is all about pura vida (pure life), the Costa Rican way of life.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 2
Hola! Welcome to San Jose. Take an included transfer from the airport to your hotel. Your tour begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Continue the introductions with an optional group dinner after the meeting. Costa Rica’s compact capital has plenty to offer if you arrive earlier in the day. Perhaps spend a few hours visiting the city’s impressive museums and galleries, such as the Museo de Arte y Diseno Contemporaneo (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design), considered one of the most important cultural centres in Latin America. You may opt to stroll past sculptures commemorating important moments in Costa Rica’s history at the Parque Nacional, or perhaps go shopping for souvenirs and authentic local cuisine at the Mercado Central.
Irazu Volcano / San Jose
Today you’ll travel about an hour outside San Jose for a full day tour of Irazu Volcano and the Orosi Valley. Rising 2432 metres (11,260 feet) above sea level, Irazu is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica. The summit is gouged with several impressive craters. Mostly barren, aside from a fringe of battered bushes and trees, it has an otherworldly feel. Hope for good weather, as on a clear day you can see both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts from the top. Descend the mountain and head to the Orosi Valley for a completely different view where you’ll find lush verdant hills etched with coffee plantations, beautiful gardens, Spanish colonial buildings and the oldest functioning church in Costa Rica (Islesia Colonial de Orosi, built in 1743). En route, stop for lunch at the fabulous 1910 Restaurant where you can enjoy classic Costa Rican dishes, such as cheese tortillas and chorreadas (corn pancakes). Make sure to check out the restaurant’s collection of photographs documenting the 1910 earthquake that nearly demolished the town of Cartago, then continue to the Orosi Valley. Walk through the historic township and you may opt to spend time strolling the impressive collection of orchids at Lankester Botanical Gardens, before returning to San Jose for a free evening.
Depart early for the long white beaches and evergreen forests of Manuel Antonio. It’s a three to four hour bus drive from San Jose; spend this time brushing up on your Spanish via an informal lesson from your tour leader, taking in the passing scenery or simply catching some shut-eye. There’s an optional lunch you can partake in upon arrival. Otherwise, the afternoon is yours to enjoy. Perhaps relax on one of the many fine stretches of sand, or rent a surfboard and ride the waves. In the late afternoon, set off on a memorable sunset sail. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales and giant sea turtles!
Spend the day exploring Manuel Antonio National Park. Made up of 12 small islands and countless lagoons and mangrove swamps, the park is brimming with exotic wildlife. Embark on a hike with a local guide in search of cheeky monkeys, indolent sloths, endangered white-faced capuchin monkeys and hundreds of species of birds. Afterwards, you have free time to explore the park as you please. Perhaps take advantage of its beautiful turquoise seas, perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing and fishing. Or you may opt to continue your explorations on land, in search of the 109 mammal species that call the park home.
After breakfast, depart for the cloud forest town of Monteverde. Arrive in time for an optional lunch, then enjoy a free afternoon. This nature and wildlife lover’s paradise is ripe with possible activities. In the evening, embark on a hike through the rainforest in search of some of its nocturnal inhabitants. Some of the wildlife you might see include porcupines, toucans, owls, stick insects and even tarantulas.
Today explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This extraordinarily diverse ecosystem is home to the largest variety of orchids in the world, big jungle cats and thousands of species of insects and birds. Embark of a guided hike on the forest floor, before coming face-to-face with the misty upper canopy while walking a series of suspension bridges hidden among the treetops. Keep an eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the world’s most elusive birds, during your walk. In the afternoon, learn about one of Costa Rica’s most famous exports with a visit to a family-owned coffee business. Gain insight into the coffee-making process and sample a freshly brewed cup. Also learn how sugar cane and cocoa beans are processed. The tour culminates with a chance to make your own candy.
Travel back to San Jose for your final day. If you were unable to explore the city before the trip began, you may want to take part in a leader-led walking tour of the main attractions in the afternoon. There’s time for some last-minute souvenir shopping at the city’s vibrant markets. In the evening, head out for a final group dinner and sampling of the city’s nightlife.
Your trip has come to an end. There are no planned activities today.