This 9-day Costa Rica vacation is perfect for the traveler who is short on time, but big on adventure. Start your travels at Arenal Volcano, followed by the beautiful Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve in search of capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, and two and three-toed sloths. Before leaving this lush cloudforest, climb into the rainforest canopy for a high adrenaline adventure along the zip lines and rope traverses of Monteverde. Enjoying the whitewater of the Rio Savegre - Class III rapids all morning long! Then end the trip on the coast exploring Manuel Antonio National Park. This is an exciting itinerary that introduces you to the best of Costa Rica.
Day 1 : Arrive in San Jose Days 2-3 : Arenal Volcano Days 4-5 : Lava Flows and Monteverde Cloudforest Day 6 : Monteverde | Manuel Antonio Day 7 : Whitewater Rafting Day 8 : Return to San Jose Day 9 : Return Home
Hike along old lava flows on Arenal Volcano
Zipline through the canopy of the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve
Raft the whitewater of the Rio Savegre
Explore the unique beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park
This morning head off to Arenal Observatory Lodge. 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.
The drive to Arenal takes a few hours and you stop en route for lunch on the way. On day 3, enjoy some free time in the Arenal area. Tonight spend a lovely evening 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, bordered by Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve and Arenal National Park, provide miles of trails through pristine forest.
There are lots of optional excursions available in this area. You can go mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding or even take a hike in the miles of trails in the area. You could also visit Ecotermales Hot Springs in the evening. Your guide is on hand to help you plan your day as you wish!
After breakfast take a morning hike into the national park to see old lava flows and enjoy the unique flora.
After the hike say goodbye to Arenal Volcano and head across Lake Arenal on your way to the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve, one of the richest and most diverse tropical cloud forests 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 your explorations keep watch for one of the area's most famed residents, the resplendant quetzal.
Get ready for Day 5, as you explore the tree canopy high above the ground by zipline, 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 hike through the reserve, viewing the misty forest with its dense vegetation and majestic trees.
This morning make the 4-5 hour drive to Quepos where you stay in a hotel near Manuel Antonio. In the afternoon, spend time exploring the popular Manuel Antonio National Park. Say good-bye to your guide this evening.
Get up early to hit the Savegre River for some Class II-III whitewater (or try class III on the Naranjo during green season). 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. Return to Quepos for the evening.
This morning spend your time as you like. There is no guide service today, so you are free to explore Quepos at your own pace. Walk along the expansive white beaches of nearby Manuel Antonio Park, or explore the lush vegetation, alive with 109 species of mammal and over 184 species of birds.
Late this afternoon transfer back to San Jose, or if your international flight does not depart until late on Day 9, spend tonight relaxing in Quepos.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
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.