Welcome to Costa Rica! Costa Rica is practically synonymous with eco-tourism; travel that incorporates education about the environment and promotes preservation of natural resources. Costa Rica boasts a large number of national parks and nature preserves with a rich array of birds, mammals, reptiles and rain-forest plants. Here, you will explore the incredible beauty of one of the world's most biologically diverse countries where unique varieties of plants and animals thrive and multiply.
Day 1: San Jose, Costa Rica
Welcome to Costa Rica! Today when you arrive in San Jose, you will be met and driven to your hotel in the town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, just outside of San Jose, for overnight.
Set among 10 acres of lush gardens, the unique and comfortable Hotel Bougainvillea is a place where guests can truly experience the world famous beauty of Costa Rica, just 15 minutes from San José downtown and 20 minutes from the airport. The large and bright rooms harmonize with the tastefully decorated lobby, restaurant, and common areas. Original pieces of Costa Rican art complement our stunning landscaped tropical gardens dominated by tall trees, plentiful flowers, ponds and mountain views.
Day 2: San Jose- Sarapiqui
Depart for the Caribbean lowlands of Sarapiqui this morning, stopping en route to enjoy a monkey-eye-view of the rainforest at the Rainforest Aerial Tram Tour. Besides the tram ride, you will also have the opportunity to participate on the canopy/zipline tour, and visit the Serpentarium and Frog Exhibit. Upon arrival at your hotel, the rest of the day will be at leisure.
Rainforest Aerial Tram: Set among a private reserve adjacent to one of Costa Rica's largest National Parks, the Rainforest Aerial Tram offers a relaxing nature walk with a naturalist guide, who also joins you on an open gondola ride through the treetops. Float silently through the canopy and open your senses to the forest from this unique perspective- the star pattern of a palm tree seen from above, the scent of treetop flowers, the mellow song of a nearby trogon...
The tram is not a wildlife viewing tour. It is a holistic view of one of nature's most complex creations and an excellent introduction to Costa Rica's incredible diversity.
Because it is a private reserve, the tram is also an excellent example of grassroots conservation in Costa Rica and how ecotourism projects can support adjacent communities (the tram hires locally, gives free tours to local school children and concessions out some services to the local community). The project is just 45 minutes from San Jose.
This evening, discover the secrets of the forest on a guided walk at La Selva Biological Station. La Selva is a rainforest reserve and research station owned by a consortium of U.S. Universities and the University of Costa Rica known as OTS. Founded in the late 1960s, La Selva is perhaps the longest running, and certainly, one of the most prestigious research stations on the tropical rainforest anywhere in the world. The property encompasses more than 1500 hectares including a variety of ecosystems characteristic of the wet lowland tropical zone. It forms part of a much larger protected area, which includes Brauilo Carillo National Park. Within La Selva, you will experience the virgin forest, secondary forest at different stages of growth (much of it so advanced that only the experts can distinguish it from the virgin forest), forest edge vegetation, lowland rivers, swamps and cultivated areas around the buildings.
The trails are very easy to negotiate, ranging from paved to hard packed earth. The paved trails are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, making La Selva one of the few tropical rainforests anywhere that is accessible to the physically handicapped. All trails are clearly marked and each person is given a map- this in spite of the fact that a resident guide must accompany all visitors. The stations primary function is research and it also serves as an educational center for a wide variety of courses in different aspects of tropical biology.
La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge
Day 3: Sarapiqui
Start the day with a river rafting adventure tour on the Puerto Viejo River.
Puerto Viejo River Rafting. Class II-III: According to water levels, the trip takes between 1 ½ and 2 hours, the length of the trip is 8 kms.
This trip is convenient for families with children younger than 10 who still want a bit of action. No experience is required and physical condition is not an issue. Smaller in size than the Sarapiqui River, Puerto Viejo is surrounded by incredible scenery, narrow passages thru gallery forests full of birds, like kingfishers, herons and swallows. Very clean and pristine waters with lots of wildlife such as otters, iguanas and monkeys. A treat for the entire family.
The rest of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the hotels facilities, join optional activities (at additional cost) or simply relax.
La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge
Day 4: Sarapiqui- Manzanillo
Depart this morning for the Caribbean Coast. Before getting to your final destination, stop at the unique Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary. Learn about the nature of these creatures and how Aviarios del Caribe is supporting them. Lunch will be served here, too.
Aviarios del Caribe. The Buttercup Sloth Rehabilitation Center offers a unique opportunity to undertake a guided journey into the slow and steady world of the sloth. Guided by a member of the knowledgeable Aviarios del Caribe team, the sloth tour starts with a short video introducing the work conducted at the center before a meet and greet of all resident sloth's, to find out a little about their individual stories.
This is the only center of its type in the world, and offers excellent photo opportunities as well as the chance to ask questions and chat with the center's founders, Luis and Judy Arroyo.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the rest of the day is at your leisure.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Almonds and Corals
Day 5: Manzanillo
Learn this morning about how the first Costa Ricans used to live, their relationship with plants as a means to cure themselves and other interesting exhibits at Natura Park.
Of all the indigenous peoples in Costa Rica, 65-75% live in Talamanca, the most rugged area of the country. This was always their domain, but they used to inhabit the lower lands too, although they were pushed to what today is their Indian Reserve. In Talamanca there are the Bribris, Cabecar and the Guaymies indigenous groups. They all speak different languages.
Just 30 minutes from Almonds and Corals a trail- like a secret passage- will take you into the forest, surrounded by the singing of the crested mandibled toucan or the mealey parrot and the bay wrens and may other dozens of tropical birds. In the middle of the forest special conditions have been created so that you can see the poisonous frogs, which live in this area. Surrounded by beautiful bromeliad and water for their habitat, you will see three different species of frog, among them the green frog or Dendrobates Auratus and the red frog or Dendrobates Pumilio.
While immersed in the forest, suddenly you will come to an Indigenous Village- a conic thatch big hut all the way to the ground, the "USURE", where the chief of the clan used to live and is now used as a ceremonial place. Your tour guide will give you an explanation of the meaning of the different constructions and he will also tell you about their traditions.
A little bit further you will find the Resting House. This building does not have walls, just a palm roof and the hammocks hanging from the columns. This is an OROWE. Lie down and breathe in the humid air of the jungle...
After this you will see El Rancho de piso" which means the floored hut, where the family lives. Here you will also be able to see the materials they use and they will show you beautiful pieces of handcrafts including furniture made of wood in animal forms, unique to this culture, and finally the House of Handcrafts where you can purchase original souvenirs.
To cap off the tour is the Medicinal Botanical Garden. During human life, Mother Nature has provided us with the necessary elements for dressing, food and medicines to cure our health difficulties. Indigenous people have inherited a lot of knowledge of medicinal plants and you can explore the botanical garden that will let you learn about some of the plants used as medicines at the Talmanca high lands. The Afro Caribbean peoples also use these plants.
The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Almonds and Corals
Day 6: Manzanillo- San Jose
Today you have the morning free to enjoy the hotel's facilities. In the early afternoon, your private driver will pick you up for the return to the Central Valley prior to your departure back home.
Day 7: Depart San Jose
Transfer to the airport for your homebound flight.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for more details.
November 15, 2010 to November 14, 2011*:
$2,060 per person double occupancy.
$1,090 per child age 11 and under, sharing room with parents.
Pricing is based on a family of four traveling together: 2 adults and 2 children age 11 and under, sharing one room.
Prices are not applicable over Christmas/New Year's- December 15, 2010 to January 5, 2011 and Easter Week- April 16-24, 2011. Please contact iExplore for an exact quote for travel over these periods.
Prices for your dates of travel may vary- please contact iExplore for an exact quote. Quoted prices are based on current rates of exchange, tariffs and taxes as of July, 2010. iExplore reserves the right to increase tour prices to cover increased costs, tariffs and taxes received after prices are published, and to reflect fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. iExplore is under no obligation to give breakdown costs involved in any package.
· Two nights at the Bougainvillea Hotel in a Standard Garden Room. Breakfast included.
· One-way private land transfer to the Sarapiqui area with a stop at the Rainforest Aerial Tram. Includes: private transportation, private driver/guide, entrance fees and a visit to the Aerial Trams tram, canopy/zipline and serpentarium and frog exhibit.
· Two nights at La Quinta de Sarapiqui Lodge in a Superior Room. Breakfast included.
· Private night walk at La Selva Biological Station. Includes: round trip transportation, entrance fees and local bilingual naturalist guide.
· Scheduled rafting trip on the Puerto Viejo River. Includes: round trip transportation, rafting equipment and rafting guides.
· One-way private land transfer from Sarapiqui to Manzanillo, Limon area visiting en route the Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Rescue Center. Includes: guided tour and lunch at Aviarios del Caribe.
· Two nights at Almonds and Corals Hotel in a Suite with Jacuzzi. Daily breakfast and dinner included.
· Scheduled Natura Park Tour. Includes: entrance fee and local bilingual guide.
· One-way private land transfer from Manzanillo to Sam Jose.
· International airfare or airport taxes
· Transportation and meals not specified
· Personal expenses
· Optional tours and entrance fees not specified.
· Travel insurance
· Visas (if required)
· Holiday surcharges
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.