Costa Rica Unplugged
Arrive San José
Meet up with your Contiki team this morning before it’s time to start the trip right & start exploring. First up, we’ll head out into San Jose city & Poás Volcano National Park for our first look at this amazing city & its lush natural environment. On our way to the park, keep your eyes peeled for coffee plantations, fields packed with flowers & dairy farms & cool locals as you travel. When we reach the volcano there’s time to check out the impressive main crater with its sulfur fumaroles (or vents where volcanic gas escapes) & frame up some shots of this unique landscape and we’ll hike the trail for the chance to see the beautiful Botos Lagoon. This afternoon it’s back to the city, where you’ll get a look at San José’s best spots on our locally guided tour. It’s easy to see why this city is such a popular place to head – with consistently warm weather & year round events this place is always buzzing, so keep your eye out for cool locals, or maybe some music & action around the city streets. Some of the main sights include La Sabana Metropolitan Park, Costa Rican Contemporary Art Museum, the National Gymnasium & with us you’ll see them all. Get the insider knowledge from your Tour Manager before we finish up with a visit the San José Central Market & the see the beautiful National Theatre. Tonight, we’ll head out to a cute local nightspot after dinner with the group, it’s the perfect way to relax, get to know your travel mates & get amped for an awesome 12 days. Keep it moving later, San José is the perfect place to start with a night out. Known for its awesome nightlife, ask your Tour Manager where’s hot to head for what you’re into – from cute cafes & intimate bars to bigger clubs for dancing, there’s something for everyone.
San José to Tortuguero
Say farewell to the big city vibe as we get an early start and depart San José for Tortuguero National Park. We’ll make our way there through Braulio Carrillo National Park, where you’ll check out the beautiful views & native vegetation found here. Tortuguero is one of Costa Rica's most popular eco-tourism destinations & is famous the world over. The canals and rivers are known as a place for studying the rainforest, freshwater and marine biology, especially its sea turtles. The park and small village of Tortuguero itself can only be accessed by boat or small aircraft, so we’ll head there by boat – perfect for a different angle on this stunning region & a cool way to get your local fix. This place will leave you impressed, with little lodges & hotels, friendly locals & is known as one of the world's major nesting sites for the Atlantic green turtle & if you’re here during July through October then you might even see them. We’ll make a stop for breakfast before continuing on past banana plantations to the dock where we’ll board the boat to the lodge. As we make our way through the Tortuguero canals keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the way. We’ll arrive around early afternoon, where lunch will be served, then after a short stop in the village to check out the local vibe, we’ll head back to the lodge for a chilled afternoon working on your tan by the pool and getting to know your travel mates.
Tortuguero is all about getting deep into nature, so get ready to see some amazing wildlife up close today...the animals get up early and so will you! We’ll start out today, with a boat tour through the canals of Tortuguero to admire the awakening of the wild life of the National Park. Keep an eye out for caimans, howler monkeys and toucans. A camera and binoculars are essential! After the tour its back to the lodge for breakfast & time to chill before grabbing your walking shoes for a guided nature walk. Our expertly trained Tour Manager will give you the inside track on this amazing haven for wildlife, where you’ll learn all about the unique flora and fauna found here & have the opportunity to ask questions about this incredible spot. Later, it’s back to the lodge for lunch, with the afternoon free to explore the way you want. Maybe take a siesta, take a dip in the pool or relax. If you’re feeling like something more active then grab a kayak or go for a walk along the beach or just sit back with a book or a drink & work on your tan. Tonight will impress – see the National Park on a different angle as you kick back in true Costa Rican style...enjoy a drink & relax with your mates on an afternoon boat ride along the canals. Calypso beats are the perfect live music to listen to as you chill with your travel buddies on this awesome experience in a blissful setting.
Tortuguero to Sarapiqui (Pozo Azul Adventures Lodge Special Stay)
Today is the start of the next leg of this adventure! After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell Tortuguero as we hit the water again en route to Sarapiqui, where our driver will be waiting at the end of the canal. We’ll make a lunch stop as we head towards Sarapiqui & our Special Stay experience at Hacienda Pozo Azul Camp, our Rainforest Special Stay overnight. These tent suites will impress – imagine waking up to the sounds of the jungle, yet in comfort, privacy & immersed in nature! It’s a seriously awesome experience. With comfy queen sized beds, ensuite bathrooms with hot water, in-room WiFi & balconies this place is the ultimate way to get back to nature & relax. Today you’ll discover the rainforest on our Tirimbina Chocolate tour to learn about one of mankinds favourite treats, before a delicious BBQ dinner. Then head back to your room for a blissful night sleeping in this incredibly lush environment.
Sarapiqui to Arenal/La Fortuna
This morning, its all go! We leave it up to you, with choices of rafting the rapids on the Sarapiqui River, a canopy tour (zipline) for birds-eye views over the rainforest or rapelling (abseiling) for that adrenalin fix, whatever you’re into is included! With your adrenalin fix had, it’s back on land before heading to Costa Rica’s famed Arenal Volcano after lunch. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape will impress, and being home to loads of outdoor activities makes it an easy place to check things off your “must-do in Costa Rica” list. The area is also known for its spa & mud pool treatments, so if you’re feeling up for it then it’s the ideal place to treat yourself & relax.
This morning get into the adventure that Costa Rica is known for, adventure and nature! Maybe visit La Fortuna waterfall or try canyoneering/rappelling through a rain forest canyon. This afternoon relax by the pool or head into town for a bit of shopping. Later on this afternoon experience the traditional Costa Rican "Tico" way of life. Our visit to Rio Fortuna La Casona will start by introducing us to the students of a local school where they will perform their local folk dances. You’ll love meeting the local students & watching them perform live. Even better is that we are giving back too, with our visit proceeds go towards supporting the school. A place full of history, culture and traditions this country estate allows us a peek into the way life used to be here. We'll see how sugar cane was processed and after we'll head to a local farm where we will tour the plantation and meet the owner. Later, we’ll head back to La Casona for a delicious home-cooked dinner, done the old fashion way on a wood stove. It's your chance to get hands on as you learn how to make traditional Costa Rican coffee & delicious fresh made tortillas. Learning from the locals is a great way to get that authentic angle & pick up some new skills in the kitchen. We think indulging in the results is the perfect way to end the lesson too. Yum! You’ll love this unique meal & you’ll love the way it’s served, dished up in the traditional way on a banana leaf. No meal would be complete without some fresh coffee, famous homemade coffee liquor, with entertainment from our hosts Milton & Eli. It’s the perfect end to the day.
Arenal/La Fortuna to Monteverde
Today we head to the cooler highlands for a change of pace, starting with a lake crossing on our way to Monteverde. Monteverde Cloud Forest is Costa Rica’s most popular reserve, founded about 40 years ago by a small group of Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live. Its Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the most outstanding wild life sanctuaries in the tropics, filled with cloud forests, coffee plantations, monkeys, mist, and friendly locals. Its high elevation rain forest offers miles of trails with excellent opportunities for watching the species found here so you will really get back to nature today! The amazing Quetzal bird is sighted up here from January to July, so ask your Tour Manager & the locals for what to look for. This afternoon we hike into the Santa Elena Cloud Forest reserve. Located high on the Caribbean slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán (5,000ft/1,500m), the Continental Divide of Costa Rica, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the first community managed reserves in the country. With the help of Youth Challenge International, a Canadian Non-Profit Organization, the Costa Rican government and the Santa Elena Community, the Reserve officially opened in March 1992. The reserve comprises an area of 310 hectare or 765 acres, and together with the Children's Eternal Rainforest, the Arenal Conservation Area and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve constitutes a conservation area of approximately 28,000 hectares or 69,000 acres. Plans are underway to raise funds to buy and restore adjacent farmlands for future inclusion into the Santa Elena Reserve. Current conservation efforts in the area are centered around establishing forest corridors from the central conservation area down to lower altitudes, as many of the forest fauna, such as the Resplendent Quetzal, American pumas, jaguars, ocelots, and Red Brocket deer found here require large territories to breed. This evening is yours to explore the bohemian, artistic town of Santa Elena or relax in the spa at the hotel.
This morning we visit Selvatura Adventure Park to walk the Hanging Bridges and visit the Butterfly & Hummingbirds Gardens for a taste of the natural landscape found here. After is your opportunity to do a canopy tour (zipline), for an adrenalin rush as you fly through 15 cables and 18 platforms with the option of a Tarzan Swing at the end of the adventure. Awesome! Selvatura Park is one of the longest Canopy Tours in Costa Rica, and it's the only canopy tour located inside the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Not ready to conquer ziplining? You can head back into town for some shopping and leisurely lunch. We'll spend this afternoon on a coffee tour. You've already sampled this famous Costa Rican drink, but get ready to learn even more. Our guide will take you through all the stages of production, from the plants themselves, through to harvest, drying, roasting & the grinding of the beans. Later, sit back with a delicious cup & relax. With your caffeine fix all done, you'll be wide awake for a night out in this eclectic, fun town.
Monteverde to Manuel Antonio
Pura Vida! Its all sun & good times this morning, we’re off to the beautiful beaches of the Costa Rican Central Pacific coast! First up is a stop in the surfing town of Jaco then its on to Quepos. Later, we’ll arrive at Manuel Antonio. This place is a popular destination for travellers, and is a haven for those who love to relax.
This morning is all about relaxing the way you want. Hit the beach for a surfing lesson, head out to explore the town or just sit with a drink & work on your tan. This afternoon we set sail for an awesome afternoon on the water. Chill out on deck, and keep watch for (when in season) dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and unique birds of the Manuel Antonio Marine Reserve. Don’t forget your swimming gear, the tour includes snorkeling equipment if you feel like getting into some underwater exploring, and includes a tour of the offshore islands for an even more in-depth look at the area. We also stop for a leisurely swim at one of the incredible white sand beaches & if you’re up for it you could dive on the underwater reefs. What’s better, you’ll indulge in a feast of fresh fruits, grilled fish, pasta, salads, drinks with the amazing Costa Rican hospitality that you will have come to love.
It’s time to get active & walk with our expert guide through the exotic, bio-diverse tropical rainforest of Manuel Antonio National Park. This afternoon join us on an optional catamaran cruise. Set sail on our awesome boat trip to spot many dolphins, whales, sea turtles & birds. Don’t forget your swimming gear for swim stops & snorkelling.
Manuel Antonio to San José
This morning you can relax in paradise or for the adventure lovers get your final fix with a kayak excursion before we head back to San José where your tour ends on arrival. Pura Vida!