Day 1: San Jose.
Upon arrival at Juan Santamaria International Airport, proceed to baggage claim and customs and immigration. You will then be met by our local representative and transferred to a selected San Jose hotel (hotel Don Carlos or similar), breakfast included.
Day 2: San Jose - O.T.S. La Selva - Centro Neotropico Sarapiqui.
This morning, you'll be picked up by your driver/guide for drive via Braulio Carrillo National Park to Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui. Arrive at La Selva Biological Station for a 2-3 hour hike inside the private reserve. After lunch continue to nearby La Virgen and the Centro Neotropico Sarapiquis.
The Lodge is part of a non-profit organization that includes an on-site botanical garden, archeological digs in conjunction with the National Museum, and the Tirimbina Nature Reserve, which is connected with the property by a 250 meter hanging bridge across the Sarapiqui River. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 3: Sarapiqui - Arenal.
Morning visit to the Rainforest Aerial Tram where you may chose to ride on the 90-minute tram ride through the Canopy or for the more adventurous, the Canopy zip line tour. After lunch, continue to Arenal (about a 2-hour drive). Dinner and overnight at the Arenal Observatory Lodge, the only lodge located within the Arenal National Park.
The Arenal Observatory Lodge was established in 1987 to study the volcano on a site chosen by these scientists for its proximity and safety. The Observatory is 1.6 miles south of the volcano and faces it on a ridge crest at an elevation of 2428 feet. From this mid-level vantage you'll have an impressive view of the volcano as well as a spectacular view of nearby Lake Arenal.
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 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 which are perpetually active. Arenal is the only volcano in Costa Rica producing continous 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. Seismologists from the Smithsonian Institute and the National University of Costa Rica have been intensely monitoring Arenal for 25 years. Includes: (B, D).
Day 4: Arenal Hanging Bridges.
This morning you will hike with your guide further exploring the area near Arenal Volcano on a trail where you will have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife. While viewing the volcano from a safe vantage point, your guide will reveal this volcano's fascinating history and explain the various types of the volcano's current activity. For lunch you will visit a local farm or local family where you will be served a typical Costa Rican dish.
In the afternoon visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges, entrance fees included. The Hanging Bridges are a complex of 6 hanging suspension bridges rising above the jungle canopy, and almost 2 miles of brick and concrete trails through the lush Rain Forest. The bridges provide an excellent vantage point to observe the flora and fauna from the ground level to the top of the trees. Walk the trails where you will learn about the complexity and beauty of the Rain Forest. Dinner and overnight at Arenal Observatory Lodge. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 5: Arenal - Monteverde.
Morning hike with your guide. Drive to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, one of the most diverse and richest tropical cloud forests in the New World. It is best known as home to the Resplendent Quetzal but has hundreds of other birds, mammals and plant species. Overland transfer is around 4 hours on a bumpy, dusty road. You'll stop for lunch (not included) en route and arrive in Monteverde by late afternoon. Dinner and overnight accommodations are at a typical lodge located close to the entrance to the reserve (hotel Fonda Vela or similar). Includes: (B, D).
Day 6: Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
In the morning visit a private Reserve to explore a set of natural trails and canopy walkways amidst the Cloud Forest. The treetop walkways are suitable for people of all ages and physical condition, duration of the tour is usually between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. You will enjoy lunch in the Monteverde area at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will go for a guided hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. View the misty forest with its dense vegetation and majestic trees. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 7: Monteverde - Jaco/Central Pacific coast.
Morning departure with your guide/driver on a scenic drive to the Central Pacific Coast; stopping en route for lunch on your own. Overnight at a selected hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Carara National Park.
Day at leisure. (B) You may sign up for optional activities at your hotel (not included in trip cost).
Day 9: Carara National Park - San Jose.
Enjoy a hike with your guide inside the Carara National Park, located at the geographical midpoint of the Pacific Coast. Carara has a transitional climate between the hot dry northwest and the rainy region of southwest Costa Rica and so contains flora and fauna from both regions. It is home to parrots, parakeets, toucan, trogons, three species of monkeys, and one of only three viable populations of Scarlet Macaws in Central America. Afternoon return to San Jose. Overnight at a selected San Jose hotel, breakfast included. Includes: (B, L).
Day 10: Int'l departure. Hotel pickup and transfer to the airport. Pay Costa Rica's departure tax (Currently $26, cash only) and check in to depart. Includes: (B).
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