Early in the morning you'll be picked up from your hotel for the drive to the Atlantic coast, traveling through the lush tropical rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, which is one of the largest in the country. Banana plantations line the highway en route to La Pavona, where you will take a scenic boat ride on the La Suerte River, Tortuguero River, and through the Tortuguero Canals. The boat ride offers lovely views of the Costa Rican forest and mangrove swamps, which are teeming with such exotic wildlife as sloths, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, coatimundis, raccoons, crocodiles, egrets, parrots, and jaguars—just to name a few!
Arriving in the island village of Tortuguero, you'll enjoy lunch at Turtle Beach Lodge, and then a free afternoon to relax and explore on your own. You'll be spending the next two nights at the lodge, which offers optional tours including kayak rentals and a local zipline tour, a refreshing pool, and nightly turtle-watching tours.
Today is a free day to spend as you please – tour the town, visit museums or take a walk through the jungle. You can explore the canals winding through the rainforest, which is home to exotic wildlife, from egrets to crocodiles to monkeys to butterflies. And keep your eyes open for turtles! Tortuguero has many highlights, but it is best known for the four species of sea turtles that nest in the region. Tortuguero's coastline is considered one of the Western Hemisphere's most important nesting sites of the green sea turtle, which can be found by the thousands in the summer months. The baby turtles hatch from July through early November, emerging from their nests to scrabble across the sand to the waiting waters of the Atlantic.
Be sure to take advantage of the miles of beach and jungle trails in Tortuguero National Park, horseback riding, kayaking to a nearby lagoon, or fishing in the Tortuguero River for tarpon, snook, and mackerel.
Start the day off early with a boat ride back to Guapiles, where you'll have lunch at the Rio Blanco Restaurant. After lunch you'll take ground transportation to Sarapiqui, and spend the afternoon exploring your new surroundings.
This evening you visit the Tirimbina Biological Reserve for a night walk. During this 2-hour walk, you will learn about the natural history of different rainforest species, with a focus on nocturnal species such as: frogs, insects, spiders, sloths, kinkajous, porcupines, opossums, and others, revealing a completely different perspective of the rainforest (a Bat Tour is also an alternate option). Located within the rainforest and river environments of Costa Rica, this 750-acre tropical science resource combines education, research, and stunning beauty to give visitors an outstanding encounter with nature. The Tirimbina Rainforest Center was founded primarily to preserve one of the few remaining stands of intact, mid-elevation tropical forest in Central America. Through education, the Center has gone further into the process of incorporating the local communities in their conservation challenges.
Tonight, enjoy dinner at the hotel. Overnight Sarapiqui.
Rise and shine! This morning enjoy some classic river rafting on a seven-and-a-half-mile stretch of the clear waters of the Sarapiqui River. You'll begin in the small community of La Virgen, and raft down through some exciting class II and III rapids—Hueco Gringo, Confusion, Superman, Montana Rusa y Fuerza Aerea, among others. The rapids alternate with crystal clear still-water pools, where you may get the chance to stop for a refreshing swim (if you're not wet enough already!) and fully enjoy the intricacies of the landscape with the help of the naturalist guides. You'll leave the river at Chilamate, another small community, and stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon transfer to the Arenal area, with the rest of the day free to relax. Enjoy dinner at your hotel, from which you can take in the spectacular views of the volcano. Spend the evening swimming in the pool or relaxing in the Jacuzzi, and then head to your comfortably furnished bungalow for a good night's sleep.
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. Today you visit Costa Rica's celebrated Arenal Volcano National Park. As you move through the forest, watch out for howler monkeys, bright tropical toucans, and listen to the rumbling sounds of the distant volcano. With a bit of luck, you may see the endangered resplendent quetzal bird as well. The walk ends with a magnificent view of Arenal, one of the most active volcanoes in the world since its massive eruption in 1968. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening free in the area! There are lots of optional excursions available in this area. You can go mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding, ziplining, ride a rainforest tram or even take a hike on the miles of trails in the area.
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, you'll return to San Jose, where the afternoon is free for resting, relaxing, or exploring.