Tour Length: 12 Days
Unplug and unwind to enjoy the sights, sounds and taste of Costa Rica starting in the Pacific Northwest backcountry of Guanacaste and its beaches, to the high mountains of Monteverde and the hot springs of the Volcano of Arenal into the rainforest along the Sarapiqui, and private tour in the famous Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. Experience horseback riding, fiestas, sailing, snorkeling, hiking, canoeing, zip lining, soaking in the natural hot springs and shopping in San Jose’s authentic Centro Mercado.
Day 1 – Arrival at Liberia to Casagua Guest Ranch
Guest Arrival – You will be picked up at the Liberia or Tamarindo airport and transported to Casagua Ranch to enjoy a leisurely afternoon and lite lunch at Casagua Ranch. Later you will have a Ranch orientation and demonstration of the Spanish horse. In the afternoon, mount your horses for a ride taking the old Spanish oxcart trails, passing through ranches, beautiful wooded countryside and small villages. Along the way you will see Howler Monkeys, colorful tropical birds or other wildlife, while getting a glimpse of the traditional sabanero, cowboy culture, of the Guanacaste people. Stop and tie up the horses in the small village of Portegolpe for a taste of Guanacaste culture, then ride home under the moon and stars for Dinner at the ranch. Spend time getting acquainted with the owners – Kay and Esteban – (friends of Pat) and the Vaqueros of this beautiful working ranch.
Day 2 – Casagua Guest Ranch/La Garita
We will leave for a small village of La Garita to pick up the ranch horses for the Forest to the Sea Tour. We will ride horses to the secluded playa Puerto Viejo beach and tie up our horses for a picnic lunch. The ride will take us to the beach via the old trails and meander through dry tropical forests on your way. You can also choose to arrive at the beach by vehicle and still participate in the R&R. After lunch, ride on to three other Pacific beaches ending at Playa Brasilito for a swim and cold drinks. For a farewell dinner, you will have a rancho party with a sampling of food cooked over firewood on the fogon and clay oven. Watch Bartola and Kay cook dinner “Costa Rican” style out under the Bodega.
Day 3 – Monteverde Cloud Forest
This morning you will transfer from Casagua to Monteverde Cloud Forest. You will be staying at Sabine’s Smiling Horses – in the Tree Top House for 2 nights. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is located 5,000ft above sea level and is continually bathed in dense clouds. Monteverde offers 26,000 acres of protected wilderness and is home to over 400 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, 500 types of butterflies, and 2,500 plant species. The exotic ferns, orchids, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, howler monkeys, emerald toucans, and the elusive Quetzal are just a few of the attractions nature enthusiasts come to experience. Quakers from the U.S. founded the village of Monteverde, in 1951. They left behind the constant fear of war as well as paying U.S. taxes that supported militarism. Although they came here to farm the land, they wisely recognized the need to preserve the rare cloud forest that covered the mountain slopes above their fields. This afternoon you will have a guided hike of Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. In the evening – travel into the nearby town of Santa Elena to enjoy dinner and walk around to take in the sights.
Day 4 – Monteverde Cloud Forest
Today you will enjoy a morning horseback ride with Sabine’s Smiling Horses to the water falls or Hot Springs or you can enjoy a morning of relaxation – your choice. If you choose not to ride – no worries – a short ride in the truck through the back country will get you to the same place to hook up with your friends to have lunch and enjoy an afternoon soaking in the hot springs. Horseback riding in the Monteverde Cloud forest region is unique – you will always remember this horse and forest experience. Return to the tree house to sip on wine and eat hors d’oeuvres. Later, have dinner within walking distance of the tree house.
Day 5 – Arenal Volcano
Guests will transfer from Monteverde to Arenal via the jeep/boat/jeep transfer service in the morning. Because this area is so mountainous, there isn’t a direct route between the two places. In our jeep/boat/jeep transfer, it takes only 2.5 hours to get between Monteverde and Arenal. You will have a 1 ½ hour ride from the tree house in Monteverde to Rio Chiquito dock – you will board a boat and cross Lake Arenal in a 30 minute boat ride. During your ride, you’ll enjoy great views of the Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde mountain range. Upon arrival to the Arenal Lake Dam you will board another vehicle for a short ride and transfer to Tabacon Grand Spa where you will be staying for two nights.
The Arenal Volcano is an unavoidable presence while travelling within this part of the country. Arenal’s perfectly symmetrical shape makes it a sightseer’s dream, while its abundance of outdoor activities makes it an easy place to check things off your “must-do in Costa Rica” list. Until 2010, it was Costa Rica’s most active volcano. That eruptive cycle – which began with the infamous eruption of 1968 – ended around October 2010. Arenal entered into an indeterminate resting phase. For the time being, visitors will be unable to watch the much-loved explosions, although that could change within a matter of months or years. Upon arrival you will check in, relax and soak in the hot springs on site, eat dinner, maybe walk around the town of La Fortuna…your choice.
Day 6 – Arenal Volcano
In Arenal, there are still mountains to be hiked, lakes to be fished and rivers to be floated in as this is one of the country’s most scenic and accessible. Arenal Volcano also offers its visitors boat/canoe tours through the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge (all day), hikes in the rainforest, canopy tours, white water rafting tours, fishing in the Arenal Lake and much more. Or take advantage of soaking in the hot springs again.
Day 7 – Selva Verde Lodge/Sarapiqui Rainforest
Today you will transfer about 2 hours from Arenal to Selva Verde Lodge in the Sarapiqui Region and become special guests of Pat’s friend, Giovanna Holbrook, who founded SV Lodge over 35 years ago when it was just a forest. Lots of history here – The past habitants of this canton of the Heredia province were the Votos Indians who occupied the Sarapiqui plains. The colonizers decided to take this zone because they wanted to open an access north to the San Juan River. Sarapiqui produces coffee, corn, cacao, cardomom, banana, dwarf fan palm and fruits. Protected zones like Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiqui Protected zone, La Selva Biological stations surround this area. This afternoon enjoy a guided nature walk or horseback ride – Experience first-hand the wonder of exploring a tropical rainforest. Enjoy a personalized and leisurely ramble through Selva Verde’s 650 acre private reserve with our knowledgeable naturalist guides. Learn more than just the names of rainforest plants and animals – discover their secret lives and fascinating natural histories. Be on the lookout for monkeys, mot-mots, toucans, and poison dart frogs, and remember to bring your camera and binoculars! You will be enjoying all your meals at the lodge cooked by the local people who live in and around the lodge.
Day 8 – Selva Verde Lodge/Sarapiqui Rainforest
This morning at 9AM you will transfer for a canopy tour in the morning and white water rafting in the afternoon. – Your choice. Or pick other activities like an early morning Bird Watching, Horseback riding, Coffee Tour, or Boat Safari on the Sarapiquí River. At Selva Verde, guests may schedule an array of activities suited to every interest and ability, from relaxing in a hammock and absorbing the wonder of the forest, to rafting on the Sarapiquí, horseback riding in the back country or hiking Selva Verde’s rainforest trails with a resident naturalist.
Day 9 – Manuel Antonio
Today’s adventure will take you all the way to the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the town and beach of Manuel Antonio to stay at the Makanda by the Sea – a destination that stands alone in a class of its own. Enjoy the air of intimacy and complete privacy in their secluded villas. The views will take your breath away as it is open to the rain forest and the ocean. After settling in, we will venture into the town of Manuel Antonio taking in the sights, walking the beach and enjoying a cocktail watching the spectacular sunset at a local restaurant and pub. Returning to the Makanda will allow you time to take in the setting and put your feet up to enjoy a good book or a long soak in the Jacuzzi and beautiful infinity pool – that offers superb views out to sea. Or take a stroll through their Japanese gardens to reflect on life. If you are still not satisfied, you can access a private beach – by taking the 552 steps down the side of the mountain – pure bliss!
Day 10 – Manuel Antonio/Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
It’s up early today to experience the country’s most stunningly beautiful national park with a resident naturalist for a guided hike into this treasure trove of biodiversity. Home to more than 100 mammal species and 180 bird species, it is one of Costa Rica’s most beloved parks. The park is the size of 1625 hectares and has a trail system that winds through rain forest backed tropical beaches and rocky headlands, and the views across the bay to the pristine outer islands are unforgettable. Add a mix of iguanas, howlers, capuchins, sloths and squirrel monkeys, and your day is made! Mid morning, after our hike through the park we will take a break and enjoy some refreshments on the uncrowded pristine white sand beach taking in the warm sunshine and relaxing. Remember to bring your pack with bathing suit, sunscreen, camera and binoculars. Upon our return to the Makanda, and getting cleaned up, our evening will end at the El Avion restaurant. This is an unforgettable airplane bar and restaurant constructed from the body of a 1954 Fairchild C-123 – sitting high up in the trees overlooking the pacific coast. The history involves the US government, Nicaraguan Contras and Oliver North. You will have to come to get the rest of the story!
Day 11 – San Jose
Today, you will transfer from Manuel Antonio to San Jose to the Wyndham Herradura through the back roads of Costa Rica – stopping along the way to view the waterfalls and lush terrain. Once in the city of San Jose, you will check in at the hotel and then be taken to the Central Mercado in the Central Plaza for shopping and lunch. You will find everything imaginable in bright colors – from pharmaceuticals to gifts to bring home. After lunch, you will be taken to Sarchi – the most famous crafts center in Costa Rica where artisans produce the ornately painted oxcarts. You know you have arrived because just about everything is covered in the signature geometric designs – even city hall. After shopping a return to the hotel to rest and prepare for departure back to the states the next morning. A farewell dinner to relive the adventures and plan for the next one!
Day 12 – Departure from San Jose
Depending on departure time, breakfast or a packed meal to take with you for the flight home. Shuttle transfer from the hotel to the San Jose airport arranged to ensure ample time for check-in. Check in at the international airport is at least 3 hours prior to flight time.
WYNDHAM HERRADURA – SAN JOSE
SELVA VERDE LODGE – SARAPIQUI RAIN FOREST
PAINTED PONY GUEST RANCH AT CASAGUA HORSES – GUANACASTE
TREE TOP HOUSE – MONTEVERDE
TABACON HOT SPRINGS RESORT – LOCATED IN ARENAL
MAKANDA BY THE SEA – MANUEL ANTONIO
Tour Pricing & Booking
$5,040.00 double occupancy
Fees based on double occupancy
Air travel into and out of San Jose – not included.