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Welcome to Costa Rica where Pura Vida is the local saying, which encompasses their commitment to live a pure and true life in harmony with nature. We will have the grandest adventures, see the wonders of nature, experience local culture; this trip has all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. This lovely country is the only one in Central America with no standing army; it enjoys continuing stability after a century of almost uninterrupted democratic government. Tourism, which has overtaken bananas as Costa Rica's leading foreign exchange earner, bolsters the economy. A quarter of the land has protected status; as you will see, the beauty of rain forest preserves draws more and more visitors.Flights, Alcoholic Beverages, Unspecified Meals, Any Unscheduled Activities and Possibly $29 Costa Rican Exit Tax Depending On Your Flight Carrier (will Need to Check When You Book Your Ticket)
Day 1 : Drive to the Poas Volcano
(Saturday May, 20th) Arrive and meet at Juan Santamaria International Airport. I will greet you with big smiles, snacks and refreshments. Once all parties have arrived, our private tour bus, with our driver will take us to our hotel for the evening.
When everyone is settled in, we will make introductions, go over the week’s agenda, and answer any questions regarding the trip. Our hotel, in the Poas Volcano Region, and will be a lovely, boutique hotel. You may choose to talk a walk of the grounds or enjoy their lovely public areas. We will have a lovely welcome dinner where you will taste fresh Costa Rican specialties.
· Fly into Juan Santamaria Airport, before 1pm
· Drive to the Poas Volcano region, check into hotel
· Relax, enjoy their grounds, walking paths, and we will enjoy a delicious dinner together
· Dinner included this evening
Day 2 : Poas Volcano National Park
(Sunday) Get ready to hit the ground running! After a traditional hearty Costa Rican breakfast, we’ll head to the Poas Volcano National Park. We will take a short walk up to the crater and view its majestic wonder. Afterwards we will head to a highly sought out, privately owned ecological attraction in Costa Rica. It features the most famous waterfalls in Costa Rica, incredible hiking trails and a rescued wildlife preserve with over 100 species of animals. We will have a chance to see many species of animals including: birds, butterflies, snakes, sloths, frogs and possibly many others, you never know what exciting creature you will run into in Costa Rica! We will enjoy a delicious traditional lunch there and take our time exploring all of the exhibits and natural wonders. The waterfalls are breathtaking and there is a series of them as you wind down the stairs heading towards the final one, which is the largest in Costa Rica. After our ecological adventure we will be ready to grab some dinner. We will head to a local spot which was a favorite on past trips. Here we will enjoy their famous and refreshing strawberry juice along with a hearty meal. After dinner we will head back to the hotel to enjoy their lovely public areas and grounds.
· Poas Volcano National Park – view crater
· La Paz waterfall and ecological park – lunch included
· Freddo Fresa dinner and return to hotel for relaxation, drinks and wonderful conversation about our day’s adventures
Day 3 : Poas Volcano National Park
(Monday) You will wake up refreshed and greeted by all of the jungle sounds this morning! After enjoying a lovely breakfast full of delicious fruits, main dishes and fabulous coffee! We will head out to the lovely town of Sarapiqui. Take a rest on the bus, as we will have one of our most exciting water adventures next. Get ready to get wet in the Sarapiqui River! The moderate class III rapids of this river are ideal for novices and families. A rafting trip on this river is a perfect balance of excitement and relaxation, as there is plenty of opportunity for wildlife viewing on the calm stretches between rapids. Originating from clear mountain streams the Sarapiqui River runs from the Central Mountain Range to the San Marcos River, which runs along the shared border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. As we float along in the tropical wet forest environment, the crystal water travels along green pastures and farmland, lush vegetation of towering trees, vines and flowers, and the La Selva Biological Reserve, a scene that is worth at least 1,000 words.
This environment is the habitat to several different species of monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, river turtles, iguanas, toucans, hummingbirds, woodpeckers and much more. We will enjoy a snack along the way and have an opportunity to take a cool dip along the bank or the more adventurous can plunge in and float down off a higher bank. Look forward to a remarkable journey that will certainly be a highlight of our visit to this lovely region. After our rafting adventure we will enjoy a hearty lunch on the banks of the river before embarking to our next destination, the Arenal Volcano region.
· Sarapiqui River Rafting and riverside lunch
· Drive to Arenal Volcano Region, check into hotel
· Relax at mineral pools or explore the town of La Fortuna, dinner on your own
Day 4 : Arenal Volcano Hike
Today our adventures will be tasty and full of fun! First, we will have a large, buffet breakfast with delicious fresh Costa Rican coffee in our hotel. You do not need to pack, as we will spend several nights in this lovely property. We want you to soak in the views of the Arenal volcano while giving you plenty of chances to enjoy the mineral baths. Our first stop today will be a five star Trip Advisor rated chocolate tour at the home of Don Olivio. This is a farm to table tour of how chocolate is made. You will be involved in the entire process and along the way learn about a variety of native Costa Rican plants. You will also get to sample the chocolate and sugar cane while watching the centuries old techniques of processing the chocolate. Culminating with a delicious cup of hot chocolate that you helped to make! After our tour we will have lunch at a local restaurant and then head over to the volcano for a unique and educational hike that highlights the history of the area - the volcano hike will feature my favorite guide Franklin. He is a passionate and knowledge guide and will help us to explore medicinal plants, local history and show us incredible vistas from the top of the summit. This tour requires the ability to climb some rocky terrain but it is well worth it. If we are there around sunset many of the monkeys become active and we may be able to spot them in the trees! After our hike we will return back to the hotel. Tonight you will have the choice to ride into La Fortuna another time and enjoy some of their fine restaurants. From casual, fun dining to more upscale you will have several choices all at reasonable prices. After dinner you may want to grab some of their famous ice cream and visit a souvenir shop. This is a good town for shopping & you can bargain some if you want. You may elect to stay at the hotel & eat there either way you should enjoy a late night dip into the mineral baths.
· AM chocolate tour and tasting
· Lunch and then Arenal Volcano Hike
· Relax at mineral pools or explore the town of La Fortuna, dinner on your own
Day 5 : Costa Rica
Today we will wake up early, enjoy breakfast and hit the road off to our next adventure. After a ride through the country we will arrive at a truly wonderful location, the Rio Celeste located in Tenorio Volcano Regional Park. You have never seen anything like this; it is truly a wonder of the world! This hike could be classified as moderate and is about 3-4 hours. You will need good hiking shoes and quick dry clothing as it often rains in the rain forest! The first part of the hike to the Rio Celeste waterfall is moderately difficult with some steep inclines and a few straightforward stream crossings. The trails are well maintained but almost always muddy. You’ll find yourself looking down at the ground quite a bit as you navigate in search of solid ground and around the huge tree roots. The scenery is beautiful, however, and makes it all worthwhile. As the park is at a high elevation, it hosts primary cloud forest as well as rainforest and is home to an abundance of wildlife. The real draw of the park though is the Rio Celeste, a beautiful sight full of color.The trail meanders along the serene river, where you can see the Tenideros, the point where two rivers converge and the water turns from crystal clear to stunning blue. This color changed is caused by a chemical reaction between sulfur and calcium carbonate. Another sight is the Poza Azul, a lovely blue pool where you’ll want to take plenty of photos. When you reach the waterfall, it’s long 250 steps down a nicely constructed staircase. The area around the falls is closed off and no swimming is permitted but you’ll be close enough to get some amazing shots. After our hike we will have a hearty and well-deserved lunch at a restaurant that serves fresh local cuisine. As swimming is not allowed in the park we will take a short ride to a local farm that is close. There we can take a swim in the lovely cool waters of the Rio Celeste. After we relax a while we will head back into the bus for the drive back. Dinner tonight will be located on the way home at a beautiful organic/ eco friendly restaurant in the town of Nuevo Arenal. This restaurant is a hidden gem, with a five star rating on Trip Advisor! The food, garden, and surroundings all showcase the owner’s commitment to sustainability and to the philosophy of Pura Vida! I promise this location and its immense beauty will wow you! We will tour the property, enjoy a lovely dinner and watch the sun go down on another wonderful day in Costa Rica.
· Visit Tenorio National Park and hike to the Rio Celeste waterfall
· Take a dip in the river after lunch
· Enjoy dinner in Nuevo Arenal at a 5 star rated organic/ eco restaurant
· All meals included today
Day 6 : Vida Campesina Tour
We will awake again today to be surrounded by the sounds of nature. This morning you will be able to sleep in, schedule your own activity or we can visit a spring that is only known to the Ticos (locals)! After a restful morning we will gather together in the afternoon to start our adventures for the day. Our first stop will be the five star Trip Advisor rated Vida Campesina, a family run farm that is indeed very impressive. From their commitment to sustainable practices to their innovative farming techniques you will enjoy learning about all of the native plants of Costa Rica. Especially an American favorite, coffee! Ever wonder how coffee is roasted? how chocolate is farmed? Sugar cane? Well on this tour we will see all that plus much more and enjoy samples, including their famous guaro, (sugar cane liquor) as we move along and enjoy their wonderful property. After our tour we will take a rest and have a lovely farm to table dinner cooked by their family. Their food is delicious and even better when enjoyed on their beautiful outdoor verandah overlooking a river. A serene and beautiful location that is a feast for the eyes and palette. A truly remarkable place that can only be seen to be fully appreciated. To end our meal we will sip on their famous honey scented coffee. Have a second cause we are just getting started for the evening! After our lovely dinner we will head off to explore the rain forest by night! Tropical Rainforests are teeming with life of all kinds and on this tour it is common to encounter insects, mammals, reptiles & amphibians. Throughout the hike our guide will offer in depth explanations of each of the species encountered and all of our questions. Some say that they cannot see in the dark; I beg to differ! You will use your senses to ‘see’ more than you imagined possible on this night hike.
· Morning on your own to rest or do an activity
· Afternoon Vida Campesina tour, coffee roasting & farm to table lunch
· Evening jungle hike (optional additional charge)
Day 7 : Costa Rican
You will wake to beautiful mountains shrouded in billowing clouds. Breathe it in, it is truly marvelous! After another hearty and delicious Costa Rican breakfast we will head on to our last destinations for those that are staying only seven days. Believe me after this week it will be hard to imagine breakfast without mouth-watering pineapple, delicious breads and even beans and rice! Today you will get to fly through the air and swim in waterfalls! A wonderful and exciting way to end our last day in La Fortuna! We will enjoy another five star rated Trip Advisor tour and zip line, view nature, horseback ride and swim in the La Fortuna waterfall! We are going out with a bang! This is a full day trip and we will make the most of every part of it. After we finish our tour we will enjoy a final dinner together to celebrate our week of adventures.Daily Summary:
· Full day zip line, waterfall, horseback riding, rappelling
· Final dinner together in La Fortuna, Breakfast and lunch included today
Day 8 : San Jose
Today will be an early morning as we say goodbye to La Fortuna. If you’re leaving us today enjoy your last Costa Rican breakfast and make sure to have an extra cup of their delicious coffee! We will all transfer to the San Jose area, some to the airport to catch flights as needed. The airport is easy to navigate and not very large. It does have a lot of souvenir shops and you can buy some very nice gifts and liquors there from the duty free shops. There is possibly an exit tax, depending on your airline, of $29 that you will need to pay upon checking in. Most airlines have included in the ticket but be sure to check. We will say goodbye to you and wish you Pura Vida! May the beauty of Costa Rica and the smiles of their hospitable people stay in your hearts as you leave their beautiful country.
For those staying on for the 3-day extension we will head into San Jose to tour their beautiful capital. The capital and largest city in Costa Rica, San José has a lot to offer its visitors. It is a contrasted city with exhilarating expressions of history, traditions, art and architecture. San José is full of interesting museums, theaters and historical buildings with a multitude of cultural activities. We will explore the highlights of the city and grab some lunch along the way. After the tour we will head to a local hotel that has lovely grounds and take a dip in the pool. We will have dinner together in a local restaurant and get to bed early, as we will have an early transfer to the Pacuare River in the morning.
· Early transfer to the Airport in San Jose
· Afternoon walking tour of San Jose
· Evening meal & sleep early for Pacuare River transfer in the am
· Breakfast only included today
Day 9 : Costa Rica's Central Coast
This morning we will head to the mighty Pacuare River. The Pacuare River, whose headwaters begin on the Atlantic slope in the Talamanca mountain range, runs about 68 miles (108 km) until reaching the Caribbean Sea on the Costa Rica's central coast. The Pacuare River is one of the most gorgeous rivers in the world and is home to lush rainforest and dozens of cascading waterfalls. The river winds along the lush valley of Turrialba in the Central Valley of Costa Rica known for its exuberant beauty, wildlife and great rapids. After breakfast, we will begin with an early morning pick up from your San Jose hotel. After our arrival at the put out we will begin the journey to our river lodge. After twists and turns, before you know it, you'll arrive at our unique eco lodge where you can spend the afternoon relaxing, hiking or soaking in the pools. Nestled in the jungle amidst a private reserve, the lodge is overlooking the Pacuare River, which National Geographic has listed as one of the world’s top ten scenic rivers. After a hearty dinner at the lodge we will retire to get ready for our second day of rafting.
· Transfer from San Jose to Pacuare River
· Raft to the lodge & spend the afternoon relaxing, swimming
· Dinner in the lodge
· All meals included today
Day 10 : Pacuare River
After yet another serving of Costa Rica's tastiest coffee and a hearty breakfast, it's time to load the rafts in preparation for paddling down the Pacuare gorge past gushing waterfalls, serene pools and pounding rapids. An adrenaline-packed afternoon running rapids like Upper and Lower Huacas, Cimarron, Dos Montanas and many more, will have you cheering ecstatically. The take out point is the town of Siquirres. Lunch will be served once we finish and there are showers, changing rooms, snacks and souvenirs. After our last adventure we will head back to our last hotel of the journey. Here we will share our final meal together and reminisce about all of our wonderful adventures in Costa Rica
· Raft the second part of the Pacuare river
· Lunch, showers and journey to our final hotel
· Final dinner together as our journey concludes
· All meals included today
Day 11 : Departure
This morning you will have your last Costa Rican breakfast, be sure to grab some coffee to take home with you! The airport has some wonderful souvenirs and is very easy to navigate. We will transfer there as needed for our flights. We will all say our goodbyes and wish each other Pura Vida! May the beauty of Costa Rica and the warmth of their people live on in your heart!
· Transfer to airport for flight home
· Breakfast included today
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