Day 1 San Jose
You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for overnight. If you arrive early enough, you'll have time to head into the city to visit a museum, shop or people-watch in the main plaza. As it is located in the central highlands, San Jose enjoys a moderate climate. The heat and humidity of the coast and lowland areas may affect you, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply a reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water (cold bottled water is available everywhere) and do not attempt too much in any given day. We prefer fan-cooled rather than air conditioned rooms to avoid having to acclimatize to the heat and humidity every time you go outside.
Like most cities, San Jose has its good and bad sides. It is the centre of government, theater, and art, as well as of air pollution and congestion. It has beautiful parks and museums, and a few beggars on the streets. It is big and often noisy, but even from its crowded downtown streets, you'll often enjoy a view of the surrounding lush mountains.
Probably the hardest thing you will do in San Jose, other than get safely across busy streets, is keep the street numbering systems straight. Street and avenue numbers are posted on buildings at the corners of some intersections. Keep looking as you walk, and you will eventually find one.
The plaza is a good place to people-watch. A mime, juggler, marimba band, magician, or storyteller may be performing for whatever is collected when the hat is passed. Artisan booths are common, creating a regular arts and crafts fair atmosphere.
A source of pride for the Ticos (Costa Ricans) is the National Theatre. Inaugurated in 1897, the building was paid for by coffee growers through a voluntary tax on every bag of coffee exported. The National Museum, housed in the Bellavista Fortress, offers exhibits on pre-Columbian art, colonial art and furniture and religious art within a 19th Century building that was converted from a military fortress after the army was abolished.
The Museum of Costa Rican Art, located in La Sabana Park used to be the international airport and is in the old terminal building. The Jade Museum is on the 11th floor of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building. In addition to the marvellous collection of jade objects, there are pre-Columbian ceramic and stone works as well as displays with archaeological and ethnographic information. The Gold Museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura. Its spectacular collection of indigenous gold art belongs to the Central Bank of Costa Rica.
The best and least expensive places to buy souvenirs in San Jose are the markets. The two main ones are in Plaza de la Cultura, which is an outdoor open market, and the Central Market, where handicrafts are sold along with boots, fish, flour, herbal remedies, shirts and everything else you can imagine. Always watch your belongings and be ready for crowds. If you plan on spending a few days in San Jose prior to or after your tour, there are a number of activities within the city and area that you can participate in, many of them outdoors.
Day 2 Tortuguero
Travel via bus and boat to your Lodge for two nights. Nestled deep in the rainforest canals of Tortuguero, the lodge lies at the threshold of the Tortugero National Park, home to the endangered green turtle.
The beaches around Tortuguero, a sleepy Afro-Caribbean town, host the nesting grounds of a variety of sea turtles. Walking paths extend through the village and into the national park. Tortuguero National Park was created in 1975 to protect the four species of sea turtles which nest along the beaches. Our three-hour boat ride along rivers and canals starts just outside the town of Limn and ends in the village of Tortuguero, near the park perimeter. We may see herons, egrets, spoonbills, as well as amphibians and reptiles like the Jesus Lizard (it walks on water) and caimans. The tropical rainforest gives way to prime beaches, ideal nesting grounds for Green, loggerhead, hawksbill and leatherback Turtles. The latter nests from mid-March to May, the rest from July to September. The Caribbean Conservation Centre, just outside of town, is an excellent source of information about the turtles and their tropical habitat.
Day 3 Tortugero
Today you will traverse the waterways this area is famous for on a boat tour followed by a short jungle walk, accompanied by specialist guides.
Day 4-5 La Fortuna/Arenal
This morning travel to La Fortuna at the Arenal Volcano—one of Costa Rica's most impressive volcanoes that can be viewed from many vantage points. On Day 5 we enjoy a walking tour to see the volcano up close. Later, enjoy an included visit to the hot springs to relax and soak in the revitalizing waters.
Set on the northern plains of Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano is on the shores of Lake Arenal, (77 square kilometres, or 48 square miles), created by a hydroelectric project. Winds sweeping off the Caribbean Sea reach speeds of 48 to 72 km/hr (30 to 45 mph), making Arenal one of the best sail boarding locations in the world. The lake actually separates the mountain ranges of Guanacaste and Tilarn. The volcano is set on the lake's southeast end. The volcano, once quite active, has been in a dormant state since the beginning of 2011 but still is a dramatic backdrop to the town of La Fortuna. During the day, its reflection on Lake Arenal is truly enchanting. There are several attractions in the area aside from the lake and volcano. It is a birders' paradise, with over 600 species as permanent residents, and is inhabited by numerous species of frogs. You can also enjoy hiking the area's nature trails, or if you're more daring, you can opt to climb a ladder to participate in one of the canopy tours and catch a fresh glimpse of the forest greenery. After a long day of exploring, the local Hot Springs might just be the answer to your tired muscles. Soak in one of the natural thermal baths under the shade of the surrounding canopy.
Note: If space is unavailable at the Tabacon Hot Springs, you will visit the equally lovely and relaxing Baldi Hot Springs for dinner and leisure time in the hot pools.
Day 6 Rincon de la Vieja National Park
You will be transferred from La Fortuna to Liberia and then on to a Hacienda, a simple working farm on the slopes of the Rincon de la Viejo volcano. Enjoy lunch at the hotel before your exhilarating canyoning tour that includes a rappel, hanging bridges and a Tarzan swing.
Rincon de la Vieja translates as "the old woman's corner." According to locals, the indigenous people of the Guatuso tribe named the volcano for one of two reasons. Either there was an old witch on top of the mountain who sent columns of smoke into the air when she was angry, or there was a kindly old woman occupying the same nook, and the smoke was from her cooking fire as she prepared meals for weary travellers. Perhaps both are appropriate: the Rincon de la Vieja crater has had at least eight periods of intense volcanic activity, and still bubbles and steams.
The park contains hot springs which give rise to very hot mountain streams; sulphuric ponds with small mud-filled depressions which bubble continuously; geysers releasing jets of stream, particularly during the rainy season; and mud cones in all shapes and sizes. Waterfalls dot the park, and there is a small freshwater lake which lies south of the main crater. In addition, Rincon de la Vieja contains what is probably the largest existing growth of the national flower-"guaria morada" (purple orchid) found in the wild in Costa Rica.
Horseback riding, mountain biking, bubbling mud pits, geysers of sulphur dioxide and hydrogen are just a few of the unique optional attractions at Rincon de la Vieja. One of the most unique sights in the park is the Blue Lagoon: approximately 30 minutes from the park headquarters, this small lagoon is blue as a result of special minerals in the lagoon's underlying stones. A large waterfall constantly replenishes the lagoon while a small hot spring to its left provides a warm welcome relief. The colour of the lagoon is at its bluest during the dry season, as the volume of rainfall is at its lowest level.
Day 7 Rincon de la Vieja National Park
This morning you will enjoy a guided tour of the national park, followed by lunch and a chance to relax. Dinner and overnight at the hacienda.
Day 8 Monteverde
Depart to Monteverde via Liberia. After the hotel check-in explore the beautiful cloud forest town.
Monteverde or "Green Mountain", when translated into English, is exactly what you will find at the end of the long, rutted dirt road we travel to get to this area. The surrounding pastures were once covered with dense forest, but only a small piece of it now remains. That piece of forest has been preserved as the Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. A cloud forest is much like a rainforest, but much of the moisture comes not from falling rain but from the condensation left by the nearly constant cloud cover that blankets the tops of mountains in many parts of the tropics. Monteverde Reserve covers 1600 hectares of forest and is home to a great variety of wildlife. More than 2000 species of plants, 320 birds species, and 100 different species of mammals inhabit this small area.
The village of Monteverde was founded in the 1950s by Quakers from the United States. They wished to leave behind the constant fear of war and the obligation to support continued militarism through U.S. taxes and chose Costa Rica because it was committed to a non-militaristic economic path. Since its founding, Monteverde has grown slowly as other people, who shared the original Quaker founders' ideals, moved to the area. Although the Quakers came here to farm the land, they recognized the need to preserve the rare cloud forest that covers the mountain slopes above their fields. The community is very different from those on the coast, and offers several souvenir shops and the Quaker cheese factory, which is definitely worth a visit. The Santa Elena Reserve, is another park in this area that is less well known and visited, but also worth seeing. All proceeds from this park profit the local community.
Day 9 Monteverde
Walk across a jungle canopy on a series of suspended bridges for a birds-eye view of the cloud forest.
Day 10 Manuel Antonio/Quepos Area
Arrive to Manuel Antonio National Park, perched on the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy this beach paradise for three nights.
Day 11-12 Manuel Antonio/Quepos Area
Spend your days at leisure. There are ample optional activities to choose from in town and the national park. The white sand beaches and warm Pacific waters near the tiny town of Quepos provide the ideal atmosphere to relax at the end of your adventure. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, boogie boarding, sailing or surfing. Not far away, Manuel Antonio offers excellent hiking and wildlife viewing. Like monkeys? This is the spot for you. Finally, you can snorkel, swim and try to spot dolphins or relax while enjoying the sunset.
Manuel Antonio sits on the outskirts of the Manuel Antonio National Park and is a great introduction to the laid back Tico lifestyle. This town is very popular with the younger set of international travellers and has a good beach for those who want to get a little sun and swim. If you have the jungle in mind, then we recommend that you head into the national park. Although this is Costa Rica's smallest national park, it is also one of the most popular and it won't take you long to see why. This park has fabulous beaches, abundant wildlife, and a great trail system for those who want to spend the day hiking. Look for monkeys, armadillos, coatimundis, sloths and some 350 species of birds that are present in the park.
Day 13 San José
Today you will be transferred to San José, where you will check-in to your hotel for the night.
Day 14 San José
Today you’ll be picked up at your hotel for your airport transfer.
13 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 3 Dinners.
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. On truck trips in Africa, aboard the expedition ship Explorer or our Galapagos yachts, while trekking in remote regions etc. food is included, plentiful and made of fresh local ingredients. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets
Tourist shuttle, bus, boat
Local flights may be included in the cost of your tour, please see the itinerary. If they are included or if you book any additional flights, it is important that we have your passport information at the time of booking in order to process these tickets. Internal flight tickets are issued locally and will be given to you prior to the flight departure.
Comfort hotel (11 nts), jungle lodge (2 nts)
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
Entrance fee to Rincon de la Vieja National Park is not included.
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
What to Take
We recommend the use of a duffel bag or backpack (whatever you find easiest to carry) however suitcases are acceptable for this style of tour. A good size daypack is also essential
- USD cash
- Credit and/or debit card (see spending money)
- Travellers cheques (optional to bring a small amount as backup, though they are sometimes difficult to cash and usually at a fee)
- G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and trip details
• Passport (with photocopies)
• Travel insurance (with photocopies)
• Airline tickets (with photocopies)
• Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
• Camera and film, reading/writing material, binoculars, cover for backpacks
• Fleece top
• Windproof/waterproof jacket or poncho
• Small towel and swim wear
• 4 shirts/t-shirts
• Sun hat
• 2 pair of shorts
• 2 pairs of long trousers
• 1 pair of hiking pants/track pants
• Hiking boots/ sturdy walking shoes
• Sport sandals
• Toiletries (biodegradable)
• Watch or alarm clock
• Insect repellant
• First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, and any extra prescription drugs you may be taking).
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.
Costa Rica airport exit tax: $28USD
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
If you feel your Local Representatives/Guides and drivers did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
As of November 1st, 2007, the Costa Rica government, requires those entering Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and Sub-Sahara Africa, to have an International Certificate of Vaccination against Yellow Fever. Those affected countries are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, French Guiana and Venezuela.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our local Guides are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our local office/Guides they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or others.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
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