Day 1: San Jose.
Airport reception and transfer to your San Jose hotel. Overnight accommodations at the Hotel Grano de Oro (or similar), breakfast included.
Day 2, Mondays/Thursdays: San Jose - Arenal.
This morning you will be picked up at your hotel by our driver/guide and driven through the dramatically scenic forested mountains of Braulio Carillo National Park on your journey to Arenal Volcano. En route, stop at the Rainforest Aerial Tram where you will travel through the forest canopy by choosing either a tram ride or an adventurous canopy zip line tour.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to Arenal, one of the youngest and most active volcanoes of Costa Rica. The Arenal Volcano (elevation over 5350 feet and still growing) erupted for the first time this century on July 29, 1968 with a tremendous explosion. Having released pressure that had built up for more than 450 years, Arenal today continues to erupt but on a smaller and much safer scale.
Due to its continuous activity Arenal is considered one of the world's most active volcanoes - there are only 5 or 6 volcanoes worldwide that are perpetually active. Arenal is the only volcano in Costa Rica producing continuous lava flows. The eruptions are variable and range in frequency from several times daily to a few times per month.
When these eruptions occur on a cloudless night, visitors are awed by the natural fireworks display of the ejected red-hot rocks and thunderous booms that accompany them which can be heard over 10 miles away. Dinner and overnight at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. From the Observatory, which is situated only 1.6 miles south of the volcano, visitors have an impressive view of this "giant which rumbles" and erupts with spectacular displays of vapor and lava.
Surrounding the Observatory is the Arenal Forest Preserve encompassing thousands of acres of pristine rainforest and teems with tropical birds and wildlife. A visit to Arenal is truly a spectacular natural history experience. The Observatory is the only lodge situated within the Arenal Volcano National Park, which encompasses thousands of acres containing pristine rainforest, teeming with tropical birds and wildlife. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 3: Arenal - Monteverde.
In the morning you will have more time to volcano watch or further explore the area with your guide. Afterwards travel into the mountains en route to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the world’s most diverse and richest tropical cloud forests. As you journey to Monteverde you will pass through small Costa Rican villages and coffee and dairy farms. A cheese factory, live exhibits of butterflies, frogs, orchids, numerous restaurants, and more can be found in the communities near the reserve. Some tours may include lunch with local families or share time with Quakers to hear how they settled Monteverde back in the 1950´s and built a community out of a wilderness. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Fonda Vela (or similar). Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 4: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
In the morning visit a private reserve to explore a set of trails and canopy walkways amidst cloud forest. The treetop walkways are suitable for people of all ages in good physical condition. Afterward, enjoy lunch in the Monteverde area at a local restaurant before the afternoon hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the richest and most complex tropical cloud forest in the New World, and home to the beautiful Resplendent Quetzal. There are at least 400 other bird species, including the three-wattled bellbird, not easily seen but frequently heard, over 100 species of mammals and an estimated 2500 species of plants.
For the most part you will experience a misty forest with dense vegetation and majestic trees. Here you will find many wild relatives of familiar tropical houseplants including philodendrons, ficus trees, bromeliads and ferns. Orchids abound with over 300 species occurring here, however many are tiny and inconspicuous while others thrive among the lush vegetation of the canopy 125 feet above the forest floor.
This diversity of flora and fauna throughout the eight distinct ecological communities at Monteverde makes it a paradise for the nature lover. The reserve encompasses approximately 10,200 hectares and one can enjoy an extremely rich variety of species with relatively little walking on well-maintained trails. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of the most beautiful forests in Costa Rica and is a naturalist's dream come true. Dinner and overnight at your Monteverde area hotel. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Monteverde - Manuel Antonio.
In the morning you will be taken overland from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio National Park. En route you will stop at the Tarcoles River bridge to see numerous American crocodiles in the river. Following this stop you will continue on to Manuel Antonio, one of the country's most popular national parks because of its unique mix of beach and forest trails.
Manuel Antonio consists of several beautiful beaches on the Pacific coast, a forest growing to the beach’s edge, easy walking trails and abundant wildlife. In the park visitors frequently have up-close views of white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkeys, sluggish sloths, raccoons, agoutis, colorful black and scarlet land crabs, and black iguanas.
Protected from rough surf by a cove, the favorite beach in the park is where most visitors sun themselves on the light cream-colored sand and enjoy bathing in the warm waters. Overnight accommodations at the Hotel Costa Verde (or similar). Nestled on jungle covered hills, the hotel is a short walk from Manuel Antonio. The hotel offers views of the Pacific Ocean and has easy access to the abundant wildlife of the jungle, a cliffside pool, bar and restaurant. Rooms feature hardwood furniture and kitchenettes. - 3 nights. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Manuel Antonio.
Today (except Mondays when the park is closed) you will take a leisurely hike with a naturalist guide through the park’s forest. This park is truly beautiful. The forest grows from the beaches’ edge up into low hills and is home to a variety of wildlife that is accustomed to people. After your guided hike, you can spend the day at your leisure enjoying the beaches and nature trails. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Manuel Antonio.
This morning you will experience an exhilarating half day Canopy zip line tour. You will be picked up in the morning and transferred to the Titi Canopy Tour (or similar), where suspended on solid steel cables and attached to a personal harness you will zip between the 16 platforms. The afternoon is free to enjoy optional activities (at extra costs). Among the activities available are rafting, sea kayaking and a boat or kayak trip to the nearby Damas Island. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Quepos - San Jose - Int'l departure.
Hotel pickup and transfer to the San Jose Airport. Pay Costa Rica's departure tax (currently $26, cash only) and check in to depart. Includes: (B).
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