Costa Rica Active Adventure
Day 1 San José
Arrive to San José at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. 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 José enjoys a moderate climate. Like most cities, San José has its good and bad sides. It is the centre of government, theatre, 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 José, other than getting safely across busy streets, is keeping 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 this museum 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 José are the markets. The two main ones are the ones 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 José 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. Please note it will be necessary to repack your bags according to the packing list provided for La Danta as it is an early departure on the morning of day 2.
Day 2 Monteverde
Leave San José behind and head out into the country. The road is unpaved in areas, and can lead to a bumpy journey. Monteverde or Green Mountain, is exactly what you find at the end of the long, rutted dirt road through the mountains. The surrounding pastures were once covered with dense forest, but today only a small piece of it remains. That piece of forest has been preserved as the Reserva Biologica Bosque Nuboso Monteverde, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. 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 2,000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different species of mammals inhabit this small area. The Santa Elena Reserve, another park contiguous with Monteverde, is less well known and visited but also worth seeing. All proceeds from this park profit the local community. On arrival in Monteverde there is time for an optional coffee tour or a horseback ride.
Day 3 Monteverde
Options include touring a sugar cane and coffee plantation, including a local lunch, a guided tour of Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, flying across canopy ziplines or horseback riding.
Day 4 La Fortuna
Transfer this morning from Monteverde to La Fortuna. 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 Tilarán. The volcano is set on the lake’s southeast end. The Arenal volano was quite active until the beginning of 2011, but the volcano's presence towering over the town and landscape is still quite impressive. La Fortuna, the town near the foot of Arenal Volcano is an excellent base for adventure. Optional activities in this area abound. Hike the area’s nature trails, swim in chilly La Fortuna waterfall or go canyoneering (rappelling) and catch a bird’s eye view of the forest greenery. Other optional activities include full-day white water rafting on the Toro or Balsa Rivers, mountain biking, caving, horseback riding, or a tour of the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. Like much of Costa Rica, the area is a birders’ paradise, with over 600 species as permanent residents. Finally, after a long day of exploring, enjoy an included soak in one of the area's natural thermal baths and rivers under the shade of the surrounding canopy. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 50 km
Day 5 La Fortuna (1L)
Today enjoy a half-day guided bicycle tour in La Fortuna to enjoy the incredible views this town has to offer. After the cycling, visit the La Fortuna hot springs where you can soak your sore muscles in one of the many naturally-heaed pools. And, of course, enjoying a frosty beverage in the swim-up bar at the hot springs.
Day 6 La Fortuna (1D)
Depart on the morning of Day 7 to Pacuare to begin a two- day rafting excursion For the first day of rafting down river stop along the way for a short hike that explores towering waterfalls and scenic, hidden canyons. In the evening stay at a jungle camp on the banks of the Pacuare River but don’t worry about roughing it—this is ‘luxury camping’ where mattresses, full bathrooms, and personal chefs are just part of the ‘Pacuare’ experience! The morning of the second day is the real treat, hike into the rainforest to a natural waterslide and possibly get to visit a local village of the Cabecar Indigenous Tribe. After the hike, you head back out to the white water and continue rafting down river. This combination of nature and adventure is the perfect ingredient for an unforgettable Costa Rican vacation.
Day 7-8 Pacuare River (2B,2L,1D)
Raft to the take-out point this morning, and then continue to the Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica by bus. The picturesque village of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca’s 14km of incomparable white and black sand beaches are surrounded by exotic tropical vegetation. Rent a bike or hire a boat to Manzanillo, and hike to Monkey Point through the Gandoca - Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge. Try snorkelling or take it easy and and explore La Isla Botanical Gardens.
Day 9 Pacuare/Puerto Viejo
Over the next couple of days, there is time to relax and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere on the coast. There is an included surf lesson on Day 10, an opportunity to get to know one of the sports that made Costa Rica famous. There's plenty of free time to relax and soak up the sun in Puerto Viejo, or a variety of available optional activities. Choose to go swimming, cycling, surfing or hike in the park. If there's time to relax, visit the Jaguar Rescue centre and learn more about these fascinating animals. Rent a boogie board if the waves are calling, dance the night away to reggae and calypso, taste flavourful Afro-Caribbean cuisine, and succumb to the natural beauty of this tropical paradise. This area of Costa Rica was quite isolated until a road was built a only a couple of decades ago, and it still hasn’t lost its charm.
Days 10-11 Puerto Viejo
Return to San José today, where the rest of the day is free.
Day 12 San José
Depart at any time.
Day 13 San José