Our Costa Rica travels begins by exploring the area around explosive Arenal Volcano. Then, it's off to Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve in search of capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, and two and three-toed sloths. The day before heading to the lively town of Quepos and Manuel Antonio, we climb into the rainforest canopy for a high adrenaline adventure along the zip-lines and rope traverses of Monteverde. Day 7 finds us enjoying the whitewater of the Rio Naranjo - Class II-III rapids all morning long! Our adventures wind down as we travel to our secluded Costa Rican jungle lodge in the South Pacific of the country. Perched on a rocky bluff, La Cusinga overlooks some of Costa Rica's most pristine beach and offers countless opportunities for tours of both the marine world and lush rainforest nearby.
Day 1 : Arrive San Jose Days 2-3 : Arenal Volcano Days 4-5 : Monteverde Cloudforest Day 6 : Transfer to Manuel Antonio Day 7 : Naranjo River Rafting Days 8-10 : La Cusinga Day 11 : Return Home
This morning we're off to Arenal. Dormant for centuries, Arenal Volcano exploded in a massive eruption of molten lava and ash in 1968. Since that time, it has continued to belch great clouds of ash and occasional lava. It is now one of the world's most active volcanoes and volcanologists from all over the world come here to study this tropical volcano. You'll spend the night at the Arenal Observatory Lodge where the Smithsonian Institute has set up its research facilities. The dining hall offers spectacular views of the conical volcano, and the lodge's 870 acres. The lodge borders the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve and Arenal National Park, which provide miles of trails through pristine forest. Our drive to Arenal takes several hours and we stop for lunch at the famous Waterfall Gardens. On day 3, enjoy some freetime in the Arenal area. There are many optional excursions available in this area. You can go mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding or even take a hike in the miles of trails around the area. You could also visit the Ecotermales Hotsprings in the evening. Your guide is on hand to help you plan your day as you wish!
Day 4-5 Monteverde Cloudforest
This morning we'll hike into the national park for close-up tours of lava flow. Mid-morning we leave the Observatory Lodge, driving around Costa Rica's Lake Arenal to the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve, one of the richest and most diverse tropical cloudforests on the continent. Founded in 1972, the Reserve encompasses six different ecological life zones and protects more than 100 mammal species, 400 bird species, and upwards of 1,500 plant species. In our explorations we'll keep watch for one of the area's most famed residents, the Resplendant Quetzal. On the morning of Day 5, we'll be fitted into special gear to zip from platform to platform high above the forest floor, and try the famous Tarzan Swing drop! For the less adventurous, there's a nearby sky walk suspended in the canopy that's great for birding and learning more about the local ecology (please let us know ahead of time if you prefer this option). This afternoon we hike through the reserve, viewing the misty forest with its dense vegetation and majestic trees.
Day 6 Transfer to Manuel Antonio
We leave in the morning to make the 4-5 hour drive to Quepos where we'll stay in a hotel near Manuel Antonio. In the afternoon, spend some hours exploring the popular Manuel Antonio National park.
Day 7 Naranjo River Rafting
1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning we rise and head to the Class II-III whitewater of the Naranjo River. Plunge through jungle clad gorges and float past cascading waterfalls. Along the way enjoy the variety of bird life such as egrets, osprey, kingfishers, cormorants, parrots and more. The four-hour trip on the Naranjo is one of the best whitewater adventures in Costa Rica. After the river trip, you'll continue south to La Cusinga Lodge located on the shores of the Ballena National Marine Park.
Day 8-10 La Cusinga
3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
This morning you awake in Costa Rica's idyllic South Pacific. La Cusinga is set amidst thick jungle with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean. Your days here are free to spend as you wish. Relax and wander the miles of secluded beaches of Ballena Marine National Park. Head into the jungle to learn about rainforest ecology, watching out for capuchin monkeys, toucans, coatimundis and more. Or you can arrange scuba diving or snorkeling on Isla del Caño, horseback riding on a nearby reserve, or even a flight through the jungle on a zip-line. La Cusinga offers wonderful seclusion, yet is near to some of Costa Rica's best-kept adventure secrets. In the afternoon of Day 10, you return to San Jose passing through cloudforest and crossing Cerro de la Muerta enroute to complete your Costa Rica travels.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.