Tour Length: 9 Days
Need to take a breath but want to experience something daring and physical – but safe? You will see Costa Rica from a “non-tourist” perspective – spending time at different locations that are “out of the way” from the normal every day tours in Costa Rica. From your first to your last day you will see and experience the country from a local’s perspective!
Day 1 – Arrival in San Jose/Costa Ballena/Waterfall Villas
Guest Arrival – You will be picked up at the San Jose airport and taken to the southern coast of the Pacific Ocean, arriving at the Waterfall Villas, a unique location above the waterfalls in the Baru Rainforest. After settling in, we will venture into the town of Dominical taking in the sights, walking the beach, and enjoying a cocktail and dinner while watching the spectacular sunset at a local restaurant and pub. Returning to the villas will allow you time to take in the setting and put your feet up to realize you have “arrived.”
Day 2 – Ballena Marine National Park/Waterfall Villas
Up early, we will follow the south pacific coastline to the small town of Uvita and catch a ride to the beach to join others in touring the famous Punta Uvita or “Whale’s Tale,” Ballena Island, Tres Hermanas rocks and Ventanas Sea caves. During the tour, we can see Humpback and Pilot whales (in season), and also dolphins. You might see and hear (with a hydrophone) the Humpback whales and/or observe the wonderful marine wildlife. While cruising in the boat, enjoy the scenic beauty of the coastline of Costa Ballena; observe the diversity of birds in the Islets and the amazing caverns of Ventanas Beach. Upon return, the afternoon is set to allow you some “down time.”
Day 3 – San Gerardo de Dota/Paraiso Quetzal Lodge
This morning we will be heading to San Gerardo de Dota – a little known destination in the remote mountains south of Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. The village is set deep in a valley, but is surrounded by the towering Talamanca Mountains and borders the swift-moving Savegre River. Among the quiet forests of San Gerardo de Dota live a variety of animals and a wide selection of birds, including the famous Resplendent Quetzal and dozens of hummingbird species. Your lodging – Paraíso Quetzal – is located in one of the most prolific zones for this bird species, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. You will stay in a beautiful cabin built from pinewood, a comfortable and friendly place with spectacular views of the mountains right from your porch.
The Quetzal is of the Trogon species of birds and sports iridescent green and red coloring with magnificent tail feathers that can reach 30 inches long. They are found here year-round and feed mostly on small fruits like wild avocado.
In the afternoon we will embark on a gentle 1.5 km walk through the cloud forest that will lead us to the Quetzals habitat. The hike will be led by a professional guide equipped with spotting scope and bird guide and will provide detailed explications along the way. You will have many opportunities with your camera to capture the elusive Quetzal and other exotic birds of the area. Later that evening, you will
enjoy the heat of the fireplace in a harmonious environment while savoring the traditional and delicious Costa Rican cuisine, cooked on a firewood stove at the Los Colibríes restaurant.
Day 4 – San Gerardo de Dota/Paraiso Quetzal Lodge
Today, we rise before the sun and leave the hotel at 5am to take part in the Cerro de la Muerte Sunrise Tour. A mere 20 minutes from the hotel, you can reach one of the highest points in Costa Rica. From this privileged height, we will view a spectacular sunrise, unique in the country, with a simultaneous view of both the Atlantic (Caribbean) and Pacific oceans. At the same time, enjoy the view of the active Turrialba Volcano while marveling at the majesty of the “Páramo.” Be sure to bring your camera to capture this unique area and sunrise. After sunrise, we will descend to take breakfast in the delightful village of Siberia.
Upon returning to the lodge, you will have an opportunity to take an afternoon siesta or explore the area more at your leisure. The afternoon is free to take advantage of the many self-guided tours among the exuberant vegetation and pristine habitat. The property contains a wealth of fascinating and unique flora and fauna, not to mention it being a birdwatcher’s dream. Or, you can laze away in a hammock… your choice! Before retiring, you will sort your gear (according to a provided handout) to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure on the Pacuare River.
Day 5 – Cartago/Pacuare Jungle Lodge
We will begin the day traveling to the Pacuare Jungle Lodge – either by dry land or river! This exciting outdoor adventure begins when we are picked up and transported through the old capital city of Cartago and through the lush green farmlands blanketing the slopes of the Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes. On our way, we will stop to enjoy an authentic Costa Rican breakfast.
After arriving at the river, our expert guides will explain safety precautions and provide you with the necessary rafting gear before the rafting adventure begins. Once in the water, you’ll experience sheer exhilaration as you face the challenge of each huge wave, battling surging waters down miles of raging rapids. In the first day on the river, a journey that takes just over an hour and a half, the river passes through scenic canyons where crystal clear waterfalls plummet down into the rapidly coursing river below. Tall trees and dense green vegetation come right down to the water’s edge. The thick undergrowth of this protected area provides shelter for a variety of tropical animals and birds, including some endangered species. As you round the bend, you’ll spy the indigenous-style facilities of the Pacuare Lodge. Here you’ll disembark from your raft and walk up the gently rising steps to the main lodge.
Picture yourself on one of the planet’s top white water rivers, oar in hand, a gaze of triumph and excitement on your face, as you enjoy mile after mile of Costa Rica’s most mesmerizing rainforest environment. Then imagine the wonder and beauty of an unspoiled paradise that offers a stay in private bungalows, which feature verandas, and where peace and tranquility are cherished. Meals will be served
in the “Nest” – an unforgettable experience – on a platform 60 feet above the jungle floor in the branches of century-old Kapok tree – considered a sacred tree by the ancient Mayans.
Day 6 – Cartago/Pacuare Jungle Lodge
This morning gives you several options that are available to explore the rainforest and surrounding communities in a variety of exciting ways. You can glide amid the tropical rainforest canopy, enjoy a fascinating cultural exchange with a Cabecar Shaman, (participants should be in reasonably good shape as the tour involves some strenuous hiking), or just hang out on the second floor of the main lodge lazing in a hammock listening to the soothing sound of the river, play board games or take advantage of the well-stocked collection of nature books. Or, you may want to take advantage of the lodge’s therapeutic Rainforest Massage, experiencing the energy of a tropical paradise with deep tissue massage. Whatever you decide…
Day 7 – Sarapiqui Rainforest/Selva Verde Lodge
Leaving the Pacuare Lodge via land we pass through the coffee plantations and peaceful country towns on our drive to the Sarapiqui Rainforest at Selva Verde Lodge. At Selva Verde Lodge in the Sarapiqui Region, we become special guests of Pat’s friend, Giovanna Holbrook, who founded SV Lodge over 35 years ago when it was just a forest. During your stay, you will learn the history of the area and about the past inhabitants of the Heredia province where the Votos Indians 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, cardamom, banana, dwarf fan palm and fruits. Protected zones like Braulio Carrillo National Park, Sarapiqui Protected Zone, and La Selva Biological stations all surround this area.
This afternoon 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 a knowledgeable naturalist guide. Learn more than just the names of rainforest plants and animals – discover their secret lives and fascinating natural histories. Be on the lookout for monkey, 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 whom live in and around the lodge.
Before retiring, you will be able to pick your activity for tomorrow, options suited to every interest and ability, from relaxing in a hammock and absorbing the wonder of the forest, to rafting on the Sarapiqui, horseback riding in the back country or hiking SV’s rainforest for early morning bird watching, coffee tour, or boat safari.
Day 8 – Sarapiqui Rainforest/Selva Verde Lodge
Depending on your choice of activity, you will depart to your destination and return to the lodge to enjoy its surroundings and personal time to yourself. In the evening, an opportunity to rest and prepare for departure back to the states the next day and a farewell dinner to relive the adventures and plan for the next one!
Day 9 – Departure – San Jose
Depending on your departure time and desire, you have the option (very early) to tour the Central Mercado in the Central Plaza for shopping prior to your departure in San Jose. You will find everything imaginable in bright colors – from pharmaceuticals to gifts to bring home. Private transportation from the lodge to the San Jose airport is arranged to ensure ample time for check-in. Check in at the international airport is at least 3 hours prior to flight time.
Tour Pricing & Booking
$4,050 double occupancy
$5,240 single occupancy
Fees based on double occupancy
Air travel into and out of San Jose – not included.