This morning we're 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. 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, bordered by Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve and Arenal National Park, provide miles of trails through pristine forest. Our drive to Arenal takes a few hours and we stop en route for lunch on the way. On day 3, enjoy some free time in the Arenal area. 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!
This morning we'll hike into the national park to see old lava flows and enjoy the unique flora. Mid-morning we leave Arenal, driving around Costa Rica's Lake Arenal 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 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 fly from platform to platform high above the ground, 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.
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 and then we'll say good-bye to our guide this evening.
This morning we rise and head to the Class II-III whitewater of the Savegre River (or we 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. After the river trip, we return to Quepos.
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.
$620 single supplement
Special 10-day holiday departures Dec 21 and 27, 2013. Wednesday start dates not recommended.