You will splash right into your Costa Rica travel adventures with Class III-IV whitewater rafting down the Pacuare River. After an early breakfast and briefing on safety measures, an incredible rafting journey on this renowned river begins. As famous for its spirited waters as it is for its beauty, the Pacuare River doesn't disappoint as you plunge through mountain gorges, run long stretches of powerful rapids and weave your way through a rainforest alive with the sounds of howler monkeys, toucans, sloths and ocelots. That evening you'll travel to the Turrialba Valley and spend the night at the relaxing Guayabo Lodge. The lodge offers wonderful views of the Turrialba Volcano and the rest of the valley. One of the most important regions in Costa Rica, the valley supplies much of the country's drinking water and is home to a spectacular variety of animals, including over 550 different species of exotic birds. Don't forget your binoculars! A quick briefing by a biking outfitter helps prepare us for our cycling adventure in the morning.
This morning, slow things down a bit with a bike tour through Costa Rica's world-renowned agricultural research center, CATIE. The comfortable four-hour ride develops over easy gravel paths, country roads and farm trails. Learn about planting techniques unique to the region and get to know the texture, smells, and tastes of the local agriculture. Sample shade-grown coffee, cocoa, bananas, macadamia, mango, avocado and sugarcane from the field. As you coast along, keep an eye out for the wildlife that - like the intuitive traveler - is attracted to the plantation's diverse fruits and flowers. The biking trip finishes with a visit to the Tropical Botanical Garden, which offers a collection of some of the world's most important tropical plant species. The afternoon is yours to unwind or take in any of the extra activities available in the area including horseback riding, a visit to the Turrialba Volcano or the Guayabo Archaeological Site (click here for more information).
Relax this morning and enjoy the wonderful Turrialba climate. For the energetic, an optional excursion of hiking or horseback riding can be arranged the night before. After lunch, you'll say good-bye to the valley and head south toward San Gerard de Dota. Your drive takes you into paramo at Cerro de la Muerte - paramo is a high altitude grassland ecosystem. Near the highest point of the highway, you'll descend into lush cloudforest following the Savegre River to one of Costa Rica's best examples of sustainable tourism. The Savegre Mountain Lodge is owned and run by the Chacon family - pioneers in ecotourism. Settle in this afternoon and enjoy your Costa Rica vacation in the pure mountain air, savoring the hospitality of this family-run lodge.
Made of up 400 hectares of forest, 80% of which are virgin, the Savegre Reserve is used as a living research laboratory by institutions from around the world. Today you will have the opportunity to explore this remarkable region, hiking the reserve's incredible landscape while making your way through the famous oak forest and epiphyte vegetation. Here, you're more likely than any other place in Costa Rica to spot the famed Resplendent Quetzal - its bright red and green feathers make it a favorite of both the novice and experienced birdwatcher. You return to the lodge in time for a hearty lunch. The afternoon is yours to take an optional excursion. Zip line through the canopy. Try your luck at trout fishing. Take a horseback ride, or just take advantage of the spectacular view!
This morning you will be picked up and transferred the 4 hours further south to the Pacific coast and arrive Hacienda Baru, a National Wildlife Refuge situated on the shores of the Pacific coast. Hacienda Baru protects a variety of habitats, including wetlands and secondary and primary forest. Explore the more than seven kilometers of trails 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. You will 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!
This morning rise early to launch your kayaks at Playa Piñuelas. At the put-in, the bilingual guide will tell you all about the park's history and teach you important safety techniques.
An easy 1½ hour paddle brings you to Ballena Island where some fruit and cold drinks tropical style will be 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.
This morning you will be transferred to San Jose (or extend your stay with another night along the Pacific Coast). Spend your last night here in the beautiful country!