Those on the group flights will be met at the airport and taken to the hotel. Those on land only arrangements will meet us at the joining hotel from midday onwards. The hotel has a swimming pool.
Today we visit Inbio Park, a great introduction to Costa Rica's natural diversity as well as its world-renowned tradition of conservation. At Inbio Park there is a science centre, museum and botanical garden to look around. If we are feeling energetic we will take a tour of the city, visiting the Gold Museum, Plaza de la Cultura and the Central Market. Alternatively, we can return to our hotel and relax by the swimming pool.
We depart San José this morning, leaving the city behind us as the road climbs through verdant forest on the way to the Poas Volcano National Park. This area is famous for its vast 1,320m wide crater that descends 300m down to a turquoise lake. There are known to be at least 79 bird species in the cloud forest - see how many you can find! Later today we continue to Sarchi Town and Zarcero where you can find a big variety of handicrafts and souvenirs made of wood and leather. In these small villages you'll have the opportunity to interact with the locals and discover their hospitality.
Today we leave the Central Valley and explore the wild Caribbean Coast with its lush vegetation and wildlife. We will take in the impressive Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Caribbean lowlands, featuring extensive banana plantations, rainforest and picturesque villages. Breakfast will take place en route at a local restaurant. Our final location is Tortuguero National Park and it is certainly an exciting journey to get there! On reaching the small village of Freeman, we continue by boat first on the river and then through the canals that run parallel to the coast, arriving in time for lunch. This afternoon we will take a short walk through Tortuguero village, a chance to learn the local populations' way of life and their Afro-Caribbean roots. We also visit the turtle museum to learn about the nesting cycle and behaviour of Sea Turtles.
Today we continue to explore the area of Tortuguero by small boats that traverse inland waterways, providing excellent possibilities to spot the abundant local wildlife. The vast network of lakes and canals provide a home for monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, sloths and more than 300 species of birds. Tortuguero is also renowned as one of the most important nesting sites in the western half of the Caribbean for Green turtles. During nesting season (July - August) there is the chance to walk on the beach and admire them (optional tour).
Wave goodbye to Tortuguero as we leave by boat and then bus, continuing our journey to the Sarapiqui area, our base for the next two nights. The hotel in Sarapiqui is owned by a local family making it an ideal spot for children. After checking in we will visit the insect and butterfly museum, featuring numerous species of colourful insects. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to rest by the pool or explore the area on your own.
Today is adrenaline day! Choose between a number of optional excursions (at an additional cost). The most popular of these will no doubt be a canopy zip-line tour - catch your breath while viewing the forest from the treetops and be thrilled by the sensation of flying over the beautiful Sarapiqui River across a 15 platform, 11-cable system. (Please note that this activity is not suitable for children under the age of 6). You can also take an optional excursion to visit La Selva Biological Station today, a modern and unique dairy where everything is recycled and nothing goes to waste. Alternatively join an optional trail ride on horse-back through farmlands and lush forest, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife on the way. In the afternoon we usually visit a rural school to meet some local children and understand the education system of a developing country. We may be asked to help with some gardening, painting, or general maintenance during our visit, as these activities tend to break down language barriers and encourage interaction. You will have the opportunity to make a small donation if you would like to. Please note that due to local holidays and other factors this visit may take place on an alternative day so a degree of flexibility is required.
We spend the morning at leisure to relax or take part in other optional activities. In the afternoon our journey continues as we travel to Arenal Volcano, arriving at our hotel in the pretty town of La Fortuna. The hotel enjoys great views of the active volcano and we have the rest of the afternoon to relax here. There are a number of activities to choose from in the surrounding area, such as birdwatching at Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, white water rafting, windsurfing, horseback riding or visiting the impressive Arenal Volcano. This evening we recommend the optional excursion to Eco-Termales hot springs, by far the best in the area and surrounded by lush rainforest!
Today we have the opportunity to walk up the flanks of the infamous Arenal Volcano. This is one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world, although its last lava flow was in 2010. The volcano still emits smoke and has bubbling fumaroles, making it an impressive site for our trail and with great flora and fauna to spot along the way. The afternoon is free to join any of the optional activities missed yesterday.
Our journey continues to Monteverde, one of the most beautiful mountainous regions in the country. Nestled high in the Tilaran mountain range, Monteverde means 'Green Mountain' - this fertile area has large patches of untouched forest. The roads can be a bit bumpy but we hope to reach Monteverde around noon in order to spend the rest of the afternoon taking in our new surroundings.
Our lodge is surrounded by 70 acres of primary and secondary forest and 5km of private trails - we will walk on trails through the cloud forest to discover the incredible variety of flora and fauna that populates this area. There are more than 180 different species of birds here so keep your eyes open! After the walk, there will be some free time for more optional activities or to relax at the hotel.
We depart early this morning to drive towards Manuel Antonio on the Central Pacific Coast. This region offers swimming and surfing, beaches, small coastal villages, sport fishing, wildlife, outdoor activities and a national park. Climatically the area marks the boundary between the tropical dry zone further north and the tropical wet area to the south, hence it has very distinct wet and dry seasons. On the way we stop at the Tarcoles River, home to the biggest crocodile population in the world. The afternoon is free to relax on the pristine beaches of the Pacific coast. Please note that it is normal procedure for the leader to return to San Jose today and meet you again on the final day.
A full day to make the most of the beautiful Pacific beaches and parks of the area - true relaxation time!
Around midday we depart for San José and the rest of the day is free to relax by the swimming pool or do some final souvenir shopping.
End San José. Those on the group flights transfer back to San José Airport for our overnight flight back to London. Those not flying back with the group leave us after breakfast in San José