Those on group flights will arrive in the evening and will be transferred from the airport to the hotel. Land Only clients are advised to meet at the hotel.
Leaving San Jose behind this morning, we drive for approximately one and a half hours to Irazu Volcano National Park, where the highest volcano in Costa Rica stands at 3,432 metres high. Irazu's last major eruption in the 1960's caused widespread damage but enriched the soil of the surrounding area, which is very fertile and supports primary, secondary and cloud forest. We reach a viewpoint overlooking the barren crater which gives a sense of the size of this active volcano. Today's hike sees us crossing towards the neighbouring Turrialba Volcano (3,340 metres). Following a quiet gravel road, we walk through the Central Highlands with views of plantations, nurseries, pasturelands and dairy farms. The hike becomes more challenging and steep over the last 5km, but we are rewarded with wonderful views. At Turrialba Volcano we can rest and eat our packed lunch, before descending back downhill to a point where we'll be met by our bus for the one hour drive to our accommodation. Walking distance: 11km. Time: approx. 4 hours.
We transfer to Pejibaye district for today's hike at La Marta Private Wildlife Refuge. La Marta is part of La Amistad Biosphere, considered by UNESCO as a World Patrimony of Humanity. Approximately 60% of its territory is primary forest, and the remaining 40% is covered by secondary forest in different stages of natural regeneration. The topography of the Talamanca Mountain Range, along with the presence of two rivers in the area (Gato and La Marta rivers) generates a wide array of habitats that allow a large number of animals and plants to thrive. During our hike we will discover the network of trails that the reserve has. After a home-cooked organic lunch at the reserve, we will continue by bus to the area of Sarapiqui. Enjoy some free time and then get ready for a nocturnal walk at La Tirimbina Rainforest Center, discovering the wonders of the forest when a lot of species are at their most active! A naturalist guide will accompany the two hour walk, providing information about the natural history of the various nocturnal species in the rainforest; insects, frogs and nocturnal animals.
Total walking distance: 15kms. Time: approx. 7 hours
After breakfast we depart for the area of Bajos del Toro, where the highest and most impressive waterfall of the country is located. Our walking trail takes us all the way to the bottom of the waterfall, which empties at a height of 90 metres into an old extinct volcanic crater. There are several fantastic viewpoints on the first 500 metres of the trail, which is generally flat and surrounded by forest - over 27 species of hummingbird have been recorded here! The second part of the trail is steep, following concrete steps with hand railings which lead all the way to the base of the waterfall, where the striking rock formations and colours will leave you in awe. We continue our journey to Arenal, reaching the Arenal Volcano National Park in time for a short walk. Following a massive eruption in 1968, Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until recently when it entered a resting phase. As well as the volcano, this region has much to offer, including thermal waters, waterfalls and dense vegetation. Total walking distance: 8km. Time: approx. 5 hours.
Flanking the south east side of Arenal Volcano is Cerro Chato, a dormant volcano that has been inactive for 3,500 years. One of the first eruptions of Chato Volcano resulted in a lava flow which paved the way for the La Fortuna Waterfall. As well as it's two peaks, there is a 500 metre wide former crater filled with water that has a mirror-like surface. Our hike will pass through dense rainforest and alongside the crystaline waters of the crater lagoon, where we can stop for a paddle. There are plenty of viewpoints across the San Carlos Valley and back towards Arenal Volcano, as well as the chance to see some of the regions plentiful wildlife. Our walk ends at La Fortuna Waterfall, where we can have a refreshing swim before returning to our accommodation. After today's hike, we include a visit to Ecotermales Hot Springs to relax any aching muscles! Walking distance: 10km. Time: approx. 6 hours.
We depart Arenal and travel around the lake towards the Tenorio region, where the famous Rio Celeste National Park is located. Taking country roads, we'll reach Canalete village. Our walking trail encompasses pasturelands, cattle farms, patches of secondary forest and wonderful views of the Tenorio and Miravelles Volcanoes. Our overnight location is in Tenorio, where we stay for 2 nights.
Walking distance: 12km Time: approx. 6.5 hours
After breakfast we travel to the Rio Celeste National Park where we join a hiking trail along the river towards 'Tenideros'. After merging with a small creak this section of the river takes on a striking blue turquoise colour, the result of the merging waters as components such as copper and sulfur react together. There is a legend that says the colour was created when God washed his paintbrushes in the river after painting the sky. It's a beautiful trail, leading towards the magnificent Rio Celeste Waterfall and a thermal springs where bathing is allowed. This afternoon we visit a suspension bridge trail in a private forest. There are three canopy level bridges, giving us the opportunity to safely experience the forest and obtain views of the national park from the tree top canopy. Total walking distance: 10km Time: approx. 6 hours
This mornng we depart towards Rincon de la Vieja, a region that combines dry forest with enchanting waterfalls and is best known for its bubbling mud pots, steaming vents in the earth, hot springs and a whole host of wildlife. Covering some 14,804 hectares, the park itself is full of geological features and has the active Rincon de la Vieja Volcano (1895m) within its boundaries, as well as a series of other craters and volcanic peaks. This region is still relatively undiscovered but is starting to attract more visitors. The start point of our hike will be close to the Miravelles Volcano, from which we walk towards Aguas Claras town along a gravel road. Taking in pasturelands and patches of secondary forest, we have great views of the tropical savana and the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano. From Aguas Claras we continue by bus to the hotel, arriving in time for lunch (not included). This afternoon, we walk inside Rincon de la Vieja National Park, widely regarded as one of Costa Rica's hidden gems. We have a one and a half hour hike through the park along a pre-defined trail, the highlight of which is likely to be our visit to Las Pailas, the bubbling mud pools that flank the volcanic crater. Steaming fumaroles and hot springs are also found in park, attesting to how active the volcano is! If we are lucky we may see Howler monkeys, sloths and any of the 257 species of birds present here. Total walking distance: 9km Time: approx. 5 hours.
Today we take a scenic forest trail from the lodge that leads to a viewpoint of Las Chorreras Waterfall, before continuing towards the Victoria Waterfall, plunging 115ft (35 metres) into the Black River. The area surrounding the canyon has plenty of unique vegetation and it's possible to take a cooling swim in the natural pool at the base of the waterfall. This afternoon is free for optional activities in the surrounding area. Walking distance: 6 km Time: approx. 3 hours.
We drive towards the Horiztones Dry Forest Experimental Station this morning, located in the Gulf of Papagayo and connected to the Santa Rosa National Park. Once a cattle ranch, the area was rescued by the Guanacaste Conservation Area for protection of the dry forest eco-system. Our hike will take us through the forest, following the river and leading us to another fantastic waterfall. After completing this last walk, the bus will return to San Jose for our last evening in Costa Rica. Walking distance: 14km Time: approx. 5 hours.
Our trip ends in San Jose after breakfast. Those on group flights will be transferred to the airport later today. Land only clients are free to leave at any time today.