Arrive and overnight.
This morning you are picked up and head to the Class III-IV whitewater of the Pacuare River. One of Costa Rica’s most exciting whitewater trips, the Pacuare plunges through spectacular mountain gorges and passes through virgin rainforest filled with howler monkeys, toucans, sloths, ocelots, and more. For younger travelers or those looking for a slower pace, you can opt to raft a tamer river. After lunch make your way back to San Jose to complete your Costa Rica travels. Spend the evening enjoying one of San Jose's finer restaurants or just relax in your colonial style hotel.
This morning drive south following the Pan-American Highway through Cerro de la Muerte (Peak of Death, 11,000') and on to the Chirripó Highlands. Your local guide introduces you to Talamanca’s forest and the surrounding Páramo forest which is home to the elusive resplendent quetzal and other cloudforest wildlife. Arrive to your lodge in the quaint village of San Gerardo de Rivas at the base of the Chirripo Mountain. The rest of the afternoon is yours free to enjoy the area.
You depart early morning to begin trekking into Chirripó National Park. The uphill trail is steep and can take up to 12 hours in poor conditions for slow trekkers. Fit, experienced hikers can do it in 6 to 7 hours. After passing the sign "Trail to Chirripo", begin an uphill stretch called La Cuesta del Agua for about two hours. This climb crests at Monte Sin Fe ("Faithless Mountain"). Amongst the wildlife that you may encounter as you hike up and pass through dwarf cloud forests draped in "Old Man's Beard" mosses are monkeys, toucanets, trogons, and several other species of birds. Today’s trek finishes at the Chirripo Shelter and Base Camp at 6 km below the summit where you overnight.
Rise before dawn this morning to trek to the summit of Mt. Chirripó before the fog rolls in. Chirripó National Park protects 50,150 hectares of high elevation terrain and cloudforest above 8,250' elevation covers half the park. Along the way pass by numerous lakes making it clear why the Talamancan Indians called it Chirripo or "Place of Enchanted Waters." If hiking on a clear day, the view to the Pacific and Atlantic is stunning. It's about a 1-2 hour ascent before descending to Valle de Los Conejos (Rabbit Valley). Hike to Cerro Terbi and Los Crestones before you continue descending to Refuge Llano Bonito and the mountain base. From here you transfer back to the lodge for the evening.
Wake up early this morning to head out on a guided hike to Los Cusingos Biological Reserve, a well-known area for birdwatchers and botanists. On your hike, you may see the turquoise cotinga, rudy woodcreeper, tanagers, violaceous trogon, mankins, and the pearl kite. Keep your eyes peeled as well for the commonly seen white-faced monkeys!
In the afternoon, drive to the Pacific coast and arrive at Hacienda Baru, a National Wildlife Refuge situated on the shores of the Pacific coast. The refuge protects a variety of habitats, including wetlands and secondary and primary forest. Seven kilometers of trails can be explored in the mapped-out trail system, as well as an enclosed butterfly sanctuary and orchid garden. You arrive in time for lunch at the reserve and spend an hour exploring the refuge before embarking on an adventurous canopy zip line tour through the rainforest. Zip across 8 cables and take in views of the canopy from 14 platforms. At the end of the tour head to your hotel located on the banks of the Baru River. You are just a 1/2 mile from the beach and surrounded by tropical forest!
Today you head south to the Terraba Sierpe Mangrove Swamps near the Sierpe River. After a safety intro by the guide, put in and head out for a 3-hour paddle through the canals. Mangrove swamps are one of the richest natural environments in the world and are the only trees that thrive in salt water. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of birds, capuchin monkeys, sloths, raccoons, coati, and even reptiles indigenous to the swamp such as green iguanas and boa constrictor! The rest of the day is free for you to relax on your own!
This morning rise early to launch your kayaks at Playa Piñuelas. At the put-in, the bilingual guide tells you all about the park's history and teaches you important safety techniques.
An easy 1½ hour paddle brings you to Ballena Island where some fruit and cold drinks tropical style are provided. Then you have the opportuntity to snorkel around the island, observing the richest marine fauna in the area. Or, if you prefer, you may choose to simply relax on the island and explore the numerous caves. Mid-day paddle back to Playa Piñuelas and from here transfer back to San Jose this afternoon.