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 welcome 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.
Early morning departure to San Isidro de General (known to the locals as Perez Zeledon). Located near the General River and famous Mount Chirripo, the highest mountain in Costa Rica, this region is well-known but few travelers stay to find out why. A free afternoon gives you the chance to explore the main square and get geared up for tomorrow’s hiking adventure. At night we will try the local cuisine at one of the many sodas (local eateries) found in San Isidro. Please note it will be necessary to repack your bags according to the packing list provided for our excursion to Piedras Blancas as it is an early departure on the morning of Day 3. Estimated travel time: 3-4 hours
Today we embark on a 3-day, two night excursion with a locally owned and operated adventure company to a community called Piedras Blancas (white stones), found in the heart of the Zona de los Santos region. The journey is always half the fun, so we will leave town in the back of pickup trucks, traveling as the locals have for years to find our trail head in the small town of Brujo. Once we are geared up and ready to go our local English-speaking trekking guides will explain the flora and fauna while we hike. The thick canopy provides for great bird-watching and animal spotting. Our first day’s trek will be the most challenging day and will take roughly 4 hours to complete. The jungle path is clear and easy to walk on, but does have rocks and tree roots that people need to watch out for. The hike will be a mixture of ascents and decents, which can make this feel tougher than just a straightforward hike. In the rainy season (May-Nov) it can be muddy and slippy underfoot, so you might want to bring walking sticks for this section. Please bear in mind that the humidity sometimes makes the hike a bit more difficult, it is very important to have water bottles, we can fill them up in the fresh water springs along the trail. The hardest part is known as 'la cuesta roja' (the red hill) and is an uphill section that lasts for about 20-30 minutes. Keep your eyes open while on the trail, it is not uncommon to see howler monkeys and toucans while on route. We will be welcomed with open arms and a much needed home-cooked meal at the Lopez family home. Once home to 18 children (most of whom are all grown up now) there are plenty of beds for everyone all under one roof. The night will be spent eating, sharing stories of the day’s trek and playing cards with the family members around the stove. Estimated travel time: 2 hours of driving and 4 hours hiking, depending on the pace of the group.
Today we will participate in various activities around the Lopez family farm. Splitting into smaller groups travellers will have the opportunity to rappel down a hidden waterfall located a 20 minute walk from the home, and make their own dulce (sugar cane candy) at the family Trapiche (the machine used to take the juice out of the sugar cane). A short 1 hour hike takes us to another local house, the Granados family, for the night. While at the Granados household, our local guides, with the help of the mother of the house, will explain how to make fresh cheese and breads. A swim down by the river and some great traditional Tico cooking will make this stay at Los Granados nothing less than incredible. Estimated travel time: 1 hour hiking, depending on the pace of the group. INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Trapiche tour, waterfall rappelling, bread making
Today we’ll awake at the Granados Family house with a fresh home-cooked meal and get ready for a 2 hour hike through the rainforest to Los Fonseca’s retreat. Located right on the river we will cross over to the house by using a cable car. At the Fonseca’s, we’ll enjoy the sounds of both the Savegre River and the waterfall that is directly in front of the dining area. The wildlife in the area is stunning, sit around and watch the hummingbirds come right up to the house. Feeling adventurous? We will have the opportunity to zip line over the Rio Savegre, capturing a bird’s eye view of this stunning landscape and of the rainforest. Our local guide will also bring us through the medicinal plant area, where we will be educated on the extensive number of plants and trees that can be used for several cures and health aids. Another full day ends with a traditional sauna to relax and reflect on the day’s events. Reward yourself with making homemade chocolate for desert with the coca beans collected right from the garden. Estimated travel time: 2 hours hiking, depending on the pace of the group. INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: Zipline, Medicinal plant talk, Traditional sauna, homemade chocolate making.
Today is a full, action-packed day: an early morning start means we have time to hike back to Brujo and raft the Savegre River. Your backpacks will be exchanged for life vests and paddles while your bags are taken to our overnight stop in Dominical, what better way to get from A to B then naturally traveling down a scenic and exciting river that flows towards the Pacific coast. The Rio Savegre features class II,III, IV rapids and is considered one of the cleanest rivers in all of the Americas. Once in Dominical you will surely get some much needed rest at the local bungalows, complete with swimming pool. Estimated travel time: 2 hours hiking, depending on the pace of the group, then 1 hour by van to Dominical. INCLUDED ACTIVITY: Whitewater rafting the Savegre River
Time to put the boots back on and hike to La Casa de Piedra (house of rock). 40 minutes into our hiking journey we will stop at a resting point to learn about the interesting medicinal and non-medicinal plants that form a fantastic garden along the slopes of our newest challenge. Just 2 more hours to the top you are awarded by the stunning views of your home for the night. Twin 85-foot waterfalls cascade over the cave where we will sleep, don’t think tight spaces – this is what we call an open cave and you will have no trouble enjoying the surroundings. A free day for exploring the area, the local guides will plan a number of activities depending on the group’s interest and energy levels. Options include a number of hikes to the surrounding falls, waterfall rappelling, cliff jumping and swimming in the natural pools. Estimated travel time: 1 hour driving and then 2-3 hours hiking, depending on the pace of the group. INCLUDED ACTIVITIES: hikes to natural pools, waterfall rappelling.
We will make an early morning start so we can optimize our beach time. Upon arrival at the trail's end we will be picked up in a private van and taken to Uvita, a small beach town on the Southwestern Pacific coast. Now you deserve some quality rest and relaxation time. Free day for hanging out in the hammock reading a book. For those that are still looking for another adrenaline rush, surf lessons are available. Other options could be a visit to the Ballena Marine National Park where between December to April you might witness the migration of Humpback whales through the area. If it’s not the right season, no worries – horseback riding, snorkeling, SCUBA diving or a visit to Cano Island are all great options. Estimated travel time: 2 hours hiking followed by 1 hour of driving.
Travel by private van back to San Jose for our final evening and dinner on the town. Estimated travel time: 5 hours
Depart from San José at any time.