Arrive in San Jose
On landing at the international airport in San Jose you are greeted by a local representative and driven to your first night's accommodation, at Hotel Presidente in the city centre. The hotel has a rooftop bar-cum-restaurant where you can sit and sip a drink, and if you feel like to venturing out tonight there are plenty of eateries nearby for you to choose from.
To Tortuguero and village tour
It's an early start as you head out from the capital on the journey to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast. The drive crosses the mountain range that forms the spine of the country, and from the bus you should get some fine views of the landscape. After a breakfast stop, you continue on to the plains and to the dock where you board a boat for the last part of the trip, arriving at Evergreen Lodge in time for lunch. Later you join a guide on a tour of Tortuguero village, learning about local life and hearing about the work being done to protect the vulnerable turtles that use the beach here as a nesting site. Return to the lodge for dinner.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Tortuguero National Park
You spend today exploring Tortuguero National Park. This is best done from the water, and your boat awaits! Sit back and enjoy the changing scenery as you cruise along canals, with the guide advising you on both the flora and fauna of the area. Look out for caiman, crocodiles and river turtles in the water, and sloths, spider, howler and capuchin monkeys plus a wide variety of birds. It's a marvellous introduction to the biodiversity of the country.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After breakfast at the lodge you are collected for the journey to Guapiles, travelling first by boat which gives you another opportunity to look for wildlife, and then by road. After a lunch stop the drive continues north, passing a number of towns. Depending on the weather you should soon get your first sight of Arenal Volcano. Your home for the next four nights is Lomas del Volcan, located near the base of the volcano.
Hanging bridges tour
This morning you set off into the rainforest with a guide for one of the best-known excursions at Arenal: the hanging bridges. The trail uses both stationary and suspension bridges, set at different heights, so traversing them allows you to view different parts of the forest canopy. This is one of the best ways to observe the plants and animals of the rainforest. The walk takes about three hours, then you are driven back to Lomas del Volcan. The afternoon is at leisure. Have a swim in the pool or a soak in the jacuzzi and follow the walking trail looking for butterflies and hummingbirds.
Arenal guided hike
This morning's activity is a guided hike in the foothills of Arenal. Your trail leads through the rainforest and lets you pause to admire the many different plants that thrive here, and to see some of the bird and animal life it supports. You emerge at a viewpoint where you can look out over a lava flow, a reminder of Arenal's volcanic nature. After the hike, you are taken back to the lodge and can spend the afternoon relaxing on your terrace or enjoying a drink in the bar.
Free day In Arenal
With nothing planned, the day is your own. You might like to head back into the national park for another hike. Alternatively, you can ride the Sky Tram, a gondola that carries you up the volcano with wonderful views over the forest and Arenal Lake. Once at the top you choose between a leisurely ride back in the same gondola or a more adventurous descent via a series of ziplines. Other possibilities include mountain biking, horse riding, waterfall abseiling and white water rafting.
It's time for a change of scene as you travel to Monteverde. This journey includes a crossing of Lake Arenal, where you should see numerous birds against the backdrop of hills and the dominating presence of Arenal Volcano. One across you continue on land, ascending on dirt roads, giving you time to take in the mountain scenery. Finally you arrive at Trapp Family Lodge. Take time to settle in to your room and maybe walk along one of the marked trails as you explore the forest reserve.
Guided morning tour In Monteverde
After breakfast you set off with the guide into the cloudforest. From the outset you appreciate the differences with the rainforest. Here you are at a higher altitude, the atmosphere is humid and mist often hangs in the air. Trees are shorter than their towering rainforest counterparts, and ferns, mosses and orchids abound. Reptiles, insects and birds are prolific, and, if luck is on your side, you may see the brilliant plumage of the resplendent quetzal. Mammals include cats, sloths, tapir, deer and monkeys. Your tour lasts about an hour after which you return to the lodge, and have a free afternoon. The gardens are perfect for a gentle stroll, as you admire orchids and watch birds, and you can spend time in the lounge-bar mixing with other guests and swapping travel experiences.
Free day In Monteverde
A free day to enjoy Monteverde. Take another guided walk in the cloudforest, take to suspended bridges for views into the trees or go for thrills as you zipline above the canopy. Horse rides can be arranged, as can a tour of a local sugar cane and coffee farm, and you have the chance to visit a women's cooperative where crafts that make fine gifts and souvenirs are offered for sale. On top of all this you are welcome to rest at the lodge, enjoying some peaceful time by the pool and in the well-tended gardens.
To the Pacific Coast
This morning you leave the cloudforest behind as you travel towards the Pacific coast. The choice of hotels to stay at depends on you, but we have based this on Bahia del Sol. Depending on your chosen hotel you spend the next four nights on either the northern coast, famed for its fine beaches, or in Manuel Antonio, a national park combining both land and sea. Whichever you choose, you soon adapt to your new surroundings, enjoying the ocean vistas, as you look forward to the next phase of your holiday.
Days 12 To 14
On the coast
Three days to enjoy life by the ocean. At Bahia del Sol you have access to watersports such as snorkelling, diving, kayaking, sailing and fishing, plus land pursuits including walking and horse riding. There's an outdoor swimming pool, spa and restaurant so you have all you need without straying from the grounds if you crave total relaxation.
To San Jose and home
Today's timing depends on your flight time. Perhaps you'll leave just after breakfast, or maybe you'll have time for a morning massage before you head home. You are driven back to the airport in San Jose, arriving in time to check-in for your flight home.
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