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Best of Costa Rica


RRA14S
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,895
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
This holiday explores the wildlife & key attractions of Costa Rica - including San Jose in the Central Valley, the waterways of Tortuguero National Park, spectacular Arenal Volcano with its hanging bridges, Monteverde Cloud Forest & the beaches and rainforest of Manual Antonio on the Pacific Coast. All transfers are by shuttle, with specified sightseeing included. Specialist birding guides on request (supplement payable).
Costa Rica Highlights Tour Tortuguero Arenal Osa Peninsula Manual Antonio
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Monteverde Cloud Forest
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Pacific Coast
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Monteverde Cloud Forest
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Pacific Coast
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred to this capital city in the Central Valley, surrounded by the Talamanca Mountains to the south and the volcanoes of Poas, Irazu and Turrialba.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this modern city.
Day 2
This morning enjoy a short tour of the capital city of San Jose.
 
Afterwards we visit the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, situated beneath the Plaza de la Cultura. This small art museum has an intriguing collection of over 1,600 artworks and artefacts relating to the pre-Columbian era (500 AD to 1500 AD), including the Media Escudo, Costa Rica’s very first coin.
 
Balance of day is at leisure to explore the city independently.
Day 3
An early departure this morning, with 06.30 pick-up from your hotel for your shared 4-hour transfer to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast - known as the 'Amazon of Costa Rica'.
 
This remote wetland system covers an area of over 300 square km. Meaning 'Land of the Turtles', it is the largest nesting site for endangered Green Sea Turtles in the western hemisphere and supports a wide range of threatened flora and fauna. It is also a RAMSAR birding site of international significance.
 
After travelling 2.5-hours by air-conditioned coach, we stop at Guapiles around 08.00 for a Costa Rican breakfast, before continuing to the docks at La Pavona or Cano Blanco. Here we board the boat for our 1.5-hour ride along the La Suerte River and the wider Tortuguero River, to your lodge in the heart of these lush waterways.
 
On arrival check into your lodge and enjoy a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to visit the local village with a guide, to observe their way of life. We walk back to our lodge along the beach trail, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
  
Note: As turtle tours book out quickly, on arrival we recommend you immediately book your tour at reception, as this cannot be booked in advance (approx. $35 per person).
Day 4
This morning is devoted to exploring the waterways of Tortuguero National Park by boat with a local guide, as at sunrise these rainforests come alive with wildlife - including sloths, monkeys, caimans and over half of all the bird species found in Costa Rica.
 
Tortuguero is also a critical breeding ground for four species of vulnerable and endangered sea turtles, which lumber up these beaches in their thousands each year to nest, with their hatchlings emerging two months later - an unforgettable sight. The best times to see this remarkable natural phenomenon are:
Green turtles - July to mid October (peak = Aug/Sept)
Loggerheads - May to August
Leatherbacks (the largest of all sea turtles) - February to June (peak = March/April)
Hawksbills (critically endangered & found only in smaller numbers) - September to October.
 
With eleven different habitats - including rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons - this park sustains a wide range of bio diversity and is teeming with birds, reptiles, small mammals and insect life. You may see alligators, tapirs, anteaters, ocelots, peccaries and more. But be aware that it will be very hot and humid, with the park receiving up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year.
 
Return to your lodge for lunch, after which you can join a guided walk along the pathways of your hotel or simply relax by the swimming pool.
 
In the evening we recommend an optional Turtle Tour (must be booked locally). To ensure you do not disturb the turtles, you must wear dark clothing - blue, black or grey - and closed shoes. Cameras are strictly prohibited.
 
Note: Take rain gear and a windbreaker for your boat ride, as showers can always be expected in the rainforest.
Day 5
Check out early this morning to depart after breakfast (07.00) and travel 1.5-hours by boat to Guapiles, where we stop for an included lunch.
 
After lunch continue 1.5-hours by shared shuttle transfer to the lowland tropical rainforests of Sarapiqui. These lush green rainforests have a huge diversity of indigenous flora and fauna. This region is also know for its adventure activities, banana plantations and ‘turnos’ (outdoor festivals) - which include fairs, bull riding and cattle shows.
Day 6
Today we leave Sarapiqui and travel 3-hours by shared shuttle to the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna and enjoy the surrounding national park and thermal hot springs.
Day 7
This morning you will be transferred to the Hanging Bridges for a self-guided tour. This series of suspension bridges offers wonderful views of Lake Arenal and the volcano. The bridges form part of a 2-mile (3 km) interpretative trail, allowing you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching. Afterwards you will be transferred back to your hotel.
 
In the afternoon you will be collected from your hotel for a guided tour of Arenal National Park, with its volcano and hot springs. Arenal Volcano rises to 5,250 feet and towers over the village of La Fortuna. On the morning of 29 July 1968, after having been inactive for three thousand years, it erupted in the most spectacular way. The earth started shaking, clouds of ashes rose into the sky, women washing clothes by the river felt the water becoming hot, and lava started pouring down the side of the volcano.
 
Your tour of the volcano starts with a drive to its active northwestern side, followed by a guided walk along either the Toucan Trail through the rainforest and across a large lava flow, or along the El Silencio Mirador Trail (depending on weather conditions). Your guide will explain the great variety of plants, wildlife and lava rock formations found in this region. Once on top of the lava flow you will have a beautiful view of Lake Arenal. The hike ends at a viewing area where, weather permitting, you may be able to see red hot lava rolling down the side of the volcano.
Day 8
At leisure to explore the magnificent surroundings of Arenal National Park, with its many natural hot springs for relaxation.
 
Optional activities include hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, horse riding and a gentle cruise down the Penas Blanca River. If you are adventurous, you can try canyoning or thrilling white water rafting down the Rio Balsa (grade 2 & 3 rapids) or Rio Toro (grade 3 & 4 rapids).
 
Day tours are available to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge; the city of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui; the Rio Celeste with its turquoise waters; or across the border into Nicaragua to view the Penas Blancas Massif.
Day 9
This morning depart from Arenal and travel 4-hours by shared shuttle to Monteverde Cloud Forest, founded by a small group of conservation-minded Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live.
 
Shrouded in mist for most of the year, this primary rainforest comprises six different ecological zones spread over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) at different elevations - 90% of which is virgin cloud forest. As a result, it has exceptionally great biodiversity and is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the tropics.
 
Check into your lodge, relax and enjoy beautiful vews over the Gulf of Nicoya.
Day 10
Today explore with a naturalist guide the Monteverde Cloud Forest, set on Costa Rica's continental divide and a magnet for flora and fauna thanks to its high rainfall and constant veil of mist. Woodlands give way to rainforests and tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines and mosses – rise high into the sky. In other parts you will find swamp forests and deep gorges with numerous streams creating waterfalls, rapids and pools.
 
This high elevation cloud forest offers miles of trails, with excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting & birding. It sustains over 2,500 different plant species (including the highest number of orchid species in the world), more than 100 mammals, over 400 birds, 120 reptiles and amphibians, as well as thousands of butterflies and other insects.
 
In Monteverde Cloud Forest you have an excellent chance of spotting an adorable sloth - a tree-dwelling animal that sleeps for over 15 hours a day, whilst hanging from the branches of trees. The two-fingered sloth is largely nocturnal, so you are more likely to see the three-fingered sloth, although both species have excellent camouflage so can be hard to spot. These cute creatures move so slowly that algae grows on their fur. Other wildlife you may see here include the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, white faced monkey, spider monkey, toucan, hummingbird, three-wattled bellbird and bare-necked umbrella bird. The resplendent quetzal is best seen in the dry months from January to July.
 
If you wish you can walk 1.9-miles (3-km) along the Hanging Bridges of Selvatura that pass through the treetop canopy at heights ranging from 40 to 200 ft (12 to 60 m). There is also the option to take a ride in the Sky Tram, and experience a thrilling Sky Trek Zip Line across the forest canopy (pay for these three activities locally).
Day 11
Today enjoy your 4-hour shared shuttle transfer to Manuel Antonio, renowned for its beautiful sandy Pacific beaches surrounded by jungle and many hiking trails.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in your lush surroundings.
Day 12
This morning enjoy a shared tour to the rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park, the oldest and most popular national park in the country, accompanied by a naturalist guide.
 
Situated on the Pacific Coast, this sanctuary consists of four protected white sandy beaches bordered by verdant tropical jungle. Over 100 mammals can be found here, as well as over 350 different bird species. You can hope to see two and three-toed sloths, white-faced capuchin, cute squirrel monkeys and many colourful birds. You can also hear howler monkeys calling across the rainforest.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax on the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
 
Note: Manuel Antonio National Park is closed on a Monday.
Day 13
Today is free to relax on the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
 
Many optional activities are available in the region - including catamaran trips with snorkelling, boat rides to search for dolphins, kayaking trips, excursions to Damas Island, deep sea fishing and surfing.
 
From December to April, and from July to October, you can participate in an optional full day seasonal whale watching excursion to Marino Ballena National Park, one of the most beautiful spots along Pacific Coast.
 
If you are adventurous you can participate in exciting zip-lining, or enjoy white river rafting down the Rio Naranjo (grade 3 & 4 rapids) or Rio Savegre (grade 2 & 3 rapids).
Day 14
Transfer 4-hours by shared shuttle from Manuel Antonio to the city of San Jose.
 
Check into your hotel in this capital city.
Day 15
Transfer to San Jose Airport for your flight home.
 
Please note there is an airport tax of approx. $29 per person payable on departure.

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