Natural Jewels of Costa Rica
Days 2 & 3: Tortuguero National Park
Travel through some of the most ecologically rich rain forest on earth at Braulio Carillo National Park on our way to Limón, where we board our boat for Tortuguero, considered by many the best place to view wildlife in Costa Rica. Our private boat cruises along canals that wind through the dense jungle, where we may see spider, howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, tree sloths, caimans, and a spectrum of colorful birds. Here in the tropics, steady sunlight, constant rain and warm temperatures create an intense incubator for a profusion of species.
Days 4 & 5: Monteverde
We fly back to San José and drive to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve in the cool high country. Monteverde means “green mountain,” though moisture comes not so much in the form of rain but in the constant mists that swath the mountaintops. More than 400 species of birds flourish here, including the rare resplendent quetzal. A hundred mammal species live in the cloud forest, as well as an estimated 2,500 species of plants, including 300 different types of orchids. We spot wild relatives of many familiar houseplants, such as philodendrons, bromeliads, ficus trees and ferns. A walk over a network of suspension bridges and platforms lifts us into the lacy forest canopy. A tour of nearby Santuario Ecológico offers excellent wildlife viewing. We return in the evening to the Hotel Fonda Vela, where the picture windows in our rooms look out onto elegant gardens and wild forest.
Days 6 & 7: Arenal Volcano
Journeying by road and crossing Lake Arenal by boat, we reach Costa Rica’s most dramatic landmark, Arenal Volcano. Costa Rica lies on the edge of two tectonic plates, one of the most dynamic such junctures on earth. Though the volcano has been in a resting phase since late 2010, it was Costa Rica's most active volcano for 43 years. Seismologists monitor its activity from Arenal Observatory Lodge. We enjoy excellent views of the volcano as we spend two nights here.
On Day 7 we’ll explore the rain forest on a morning walk over trails and hanging bridges with Arenal Volcano looming in the background. After lunch, we visit Danaus Eco Center for a close-up look at Costa Rica’s famed red poison dart frogs and other wildlife as we walk among the conservation project’s 300 species of tropical plants. Where there is volcanic activity, there is usually geothermal activity, too, which we embrace with a soak in natural hot springs this afternoon.
Day 8: Arenal / San José
After breakfast in the shadow of the volcano, we return to San José, stopping en route for a farewell lunch. Our final destination, Xandari Plantation Resort & Spa is situated on a coffee plantation overlooking the broad Central Valley. Xandari offers spa treatments, swimming pools, tropical fruit orchards and trails leading to waterfalls, which you will have time to enjoy at your leisure.
Day 9: San José / Home
Our Costa Rica adventure tour comes to an end as we transfer to the airport this morning for flights home.