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  • Natural Wonders
  • Wildlife Holidays
  • Marine Wildlife
  • Birdwatching
  • Culture
  • Zip Line
  • Food

    • — Embark on a boat tour of the tranquil Tortuguero waterways — Eat lunch at an organic farm and visit a pineapple plantation — Soar above the cloud forest on a zip-lining excursion — Discover Rincon de la Vieja with its bubbling mud pools and hot springs — Relax on the Pacific Coast with three nights in a hotel overlooking the beach
  • 1

    Start San José

    Welcome to San José, the culture-rich capital of Costa Rica. Aim to arrive at the hotel by 5pm so that you can meet your fellow travellers and tour leader, who will give you a warm welcome to Costa Rica. If you miss today’s welcome briefing, the tour leader will give you all relevant information on the morning of Day 2. Accommodation: Studio Hotel (or similar)

  • 2

    To Tortuguero National Park

    Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San José as we travel to Tortuguero National Park in northeast Costa Rica. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, the vast network of waterways, canals and swamps in Tortuguero are remarkably tranquil, unspoiled and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier, we board a small motorboat for the journey to our lodge (up to 1hr 30min) , which is a short distance from the main lagoon. Please note the transfer from San José to Tortuguero is not private for Exodus clients. Our afternoon is spent in Tortuguero village, where it’s possible to visit the Sea Turtle Museum. Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback turtles also nest in this region; during November to January, baby turtles hatch and head to the ocean. Today’s travel time will be in the region of six hours including a break for breakfast. Accommodation: Evergreen Lodge (or similar)

  • 3

    Boat tour around Tortuguero waterways

    After breakfast we board a small boat that enables us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero as we pass serenely along the waterways. At this time of day, wildlife is usually at its most active; with the help of our expert guide, we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300-plus bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast near the river. The lodge is a tranquil spot to relax for the rest of the day if you want to take time out to enjoy the facilities. Alternatively, you can join a second boat trip (included but optional) or follow a short walking trail through the forest. Accommodation: Evergreen Lodge (or similar)

  • 4

    To Sarapiqui; night walk to experience the rainforest in the dark

    We leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived, by taking a small boat to the pier. Our bus will be at the pier waiting to drive us to the Sarapiqui region, stopping for lunch en route. Sarapiqui is blessed with abundant vegetation and the beautiful Sarapiqui River. This is one of the main areas of banana production in Costa Rica, although coffee, cardamon, cacao, corn and other fruits are also grown here. In the evening, we take a night walk through Tirimbina Biological Reserve, crossing a suspension bridge for a different perspective on the rainforest and its many inhabitants: see how many eyes you can spot staring back at you! Our guide will focus on nocturnal species, such as insects, frogs and nocturnal mammals, who are active in the dark. Accommodation: La Quinta Sarapiqui (or similar)

  • 5

    Pineapple plantation tour; to La Fortuna near Arenal

    After breakfast at the hotel, we check out and make our way towards an organic pineapple plantation in La Virgen de Sarapiqui. This area is well known for its rich soil and excellent growing conditions. During our morning tour, we have the opportunity to discover the organic philosophy of the farm, learning about crop rotation, companion planting and the concept of rural agritourism. This is a great introduction to Costa Rican heritage. After, we transfer to the area of La Fortuna near Arenal arriving around lunchtime. We have free time to enjoy the hotel facilities or there are some optional excursions for this afternoon/evening. Accommodation: Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

  • 6

    Farm-to-table culinary experience; La Fortuna Waterfall walk

    Arenal was the most active volcano in Costa Rica until recently when it entered a resting phase. There is a lot of geothermal activity in this area, with natural hot springs, waterfalls and Lake Arenal. This morning, we have a farm-to-table culinary tour at an organic farm. This is a fun and interactive experience to discover some of the typical produce grown in this area. On arrival, we are greeted with fresh fruits and coffee while we learn about the history of the farm. We usually select some of the produce to be harvested that day (destined for our lunch menu) and have a tour of the greenhouse to see how some Costa Rican staples are grown. This is a great experience to see an authentic farm in wonderful surroundings – look out for the family of sloths living in the neighbouring trees. Afterwards, we visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a 215ft (65m) cascade plunging into an emerald pool. A short rainforest trail brings us to a relatively steep set of steps that we must descend to reach the waterfall and then ascend to exit – this takes around 20-30 minutes and can be rewarded with a swim in the emerald pool below, if you wish. It is possible to visit the lookout point and wait for the group here if you prefer. Keep an eye out for colourful toucans in the rainforest! Accommodation: Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

  • 7

    Hike at Arenal Volcano National Park; free afternoon for optional activities

    This morning, we take a short scenic hike within Arenal National Park, walking through secondary rainforest and passing lava fields from past eruptions. Walking on the base and flanks of the volcano gives extraordinary views, as our guide explains about the history and recent activity and points out landmarks left over the years. The high vantage points on this walk also provide great views overlooking Lake Arenal and the birdlife is plentiful. This afternoon is free to join one of the optional activities available in this region. Accommodation: Arenal Paraiso (or similar)

  • 8

    Boat and transfer to Monteverde in the Tilaran Mountains

    From Arenal, we travel to the Tilaran mountain range in the Central Highlands for a taste of the Costa Rican cloud forest. Reaching Monteverde involves a fast boat across Lake Arenal, which is incredibly scenic and will take roughly 30 minutes. Our journey continues by shared land transfer as we ascend the hills towards Monteverde, a forest-cloaked region whose name literally means green mountain, where we meet our private bus. The high altitude supports a complex eco-system where plants thrive, particularly orchids of which there are some 400-plus varieties here. Our total journey time will be about 3hr 30min, including the lake crossing. Accommodation: Monteverde Country Lodge, Sibu Lodge or Montaña Monteverde (or similar)

  • 9

    Zip-line adventure through the treetops; visit the hanging bridges and butterfly garden

    Today we visit Selvatura Park, 850 acres (345ha) of protected land dedicated to nature and adventure. We begin with the hanging bridges excursion, a system of treetop walkways through the forest designed to let you experience the beauty of the cloud forest and observe its many inhabitants. We also visit the butterfly garden, which has one of the largest exhibitions of butterflies in the world. After, it’s time to try some aerial manoeuvres on a zip-line adventure through the treetops. Before you fly, guides will teach you the proper technique, including how to position yourself and hold the cable correctly, enabling you to safely enjoy this adrenaline-pumping adventure suspended above the trees. Accommodation: Monteverde Country Lodge, Sibu Lodge or Montaña Monteverde (or similar)

  • 10

    To Rincon de la Vieja; choose between a canyon canopy tour, tubing or horse riding

    After breakfast at the hotel, we check out and transfer to Rincón de la Vieja, an area that combines dry forest with enchanting waterfalls and is best known for its bubbling mud pots, steaming vents in the earth, hot springs and a whole host of wildlife. There are three activities to choose between today: a canyon canopy tour, tubing or horse riding. The cost of joining one activity is included, so it is up to you to decide which you would like to do! The canyon canopy tour is a zip-line adventure involving rappelling, climbing, a Tarzan swing and hanging bridges over a narrow river canyon. Tubing takes place on the Rio Negro, with individual inner tube rafts across 3mi (5km) of class II and III rapids. The horse-riding excursion follows a forest trail leading to a rainforest waterfall. Experience is not needed for any of these activities and you can decide which you prefer once you’re in Costa Rica. Accommodation: Buena Vista del Rincon or Hacienda Guachipelin (or similar)

  • 11

    Hiking in Rincon de la Vieja National Park; visit the mud baths and hot springs

    Today we discover Rincón de la Vieja National Park and its network of trails during a hike through the exotic dry tropical forest on the Las Pailas Trail. This loop walk twists through jungle around the base of the volcano, passing steam-spitting fumaroles and hopefully encountering wildlife on the way: toucans, spider monkeys and lizards are found here as well as many bird species. After, we visit a hot spring. Heated naturally by the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, these hot springs feed directly from the Rio Negro and are mineral rich with therapeutic properties. There are 10 human-made pools created to capture the steaming mineral water, surrounded by thick forest. Smooth volcanic clay over yourself, let it dry and wash off with a cool shower or jump in the river before soaking again in the hot pools. Accommodation: Buena Vista del Rincón or Hacienda Guachipelin (or similar)

  • 12

    To the Pacific Coast; afternoon at leisure to enjoy the beach

    We travel to Carrillo on the Pacific Coast, one of the best-kept secrets in Costa Rica. The broad, shady bay is backed by coconut palms and the water is calm and safe for swimming thanks to a coral reef just out to sea on which the normally large, Pacific waves break before reaching the beach. There are plenty of facilities here but there’s a noticeable absence of big resort hotels, which makes for a nice atmosphere.  We have a free afternoon here to enjoy the facilities and discover the area. Accommodation: Nammbu Hotel (or similar)

  • 13

    Boat trip to see dolphins; have a go at snorkelling

    Today we take a private boat trip in search of dolphins. You could be lucky enough to see spotted dolphins, Central American spinner dolphins or common bottlenose dolphins, which all inhabit this area year-round. Feel the ocean breeze and enjoy the scenery of the coastline as we search for these playful animals who love to swim in the bow wave of the boat. As we make our way back along the coast, we anchor near the shores of Isla Chora, a delightful white-sand beach full of hermit crabs and iguanas. This is a great spot for a refreshing swim and to explore the lively, colourful underwater world with a mask and snorkel. In total, today’s excursion will last around four hours, with the rest of your time at leisure to enjoy the area. Accommodation: Nammbu Hotel (or similar)

  • 14

    Free day to enjoy the Pacific Coast, evening turtle-nesting tour

    Today has been left free for you to enjoy the Pacific Coast, the beach and the hotel facilities. This evening, we take a turtle-nesting tour on nearby Camaronal Beach, where an extensive wildlife refuge has been created to protect the olive ridley, leatherback and hawksbill turtles who all lay their eggs in the reserve’s sands. These endangered species nest year-round at Caramonal, but in bigger numbers from June to January. This tour takes place at night with a ranger. We hope to visit when turtles are nesting to see the incredible moment a turtle digs a hole and starts to lay her eggs. Sometimes you may be lucky and find yourself present during hatchings too, which means baby turtles scrabbling through the sand to get to the water. This unforgettable experience only happens in the dark, so the tour usually starts around 7pm and may last up to four hours depending on sightings. Accommodation: Nammbu Hotel (or similar)

  • 15

    To San José; end San José

    A four-hour journey takes us back to San José, where the adventure comes to an end. We advise that you don’t book a flight leaving San José before 4pm today. Of course, if you’d like a little more time to explore, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

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