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Holding a baby sea turtle

Turtles & Rainforest Pacuare Reserve

Pacuare - Example 8 Day Tour
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Conservation of Costa Rica's pristine nature is an important job, and this 8-day tour allows you to join biologists for two nights of research at the most important nesting ground of leatherback turtles in the country. Pacuare Reserve is located a few miles south of Tortuguero, but with a group size limited to just six travelers, it's just you, the researchers, and these unique turtles! A day of whitewater rafting on the renowned Class II-III rapids of the Pacuare River and a few days of jungle adventure, exploration, and relaxing round-out this exclusive Costa Rica travel itinerary, perfect for families. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in San Jose
Day 2 : Pacuare Nature Reserve
Day 3 : Leatherback Turtles and River Canals
Days 4-6 : Rainforest Retreat
Day 7 : Pacuare River Rafting
Day 8 : Return Home

Highlights

  • Join biologists to search for leatherback turtles
  • Hike through primary forest and learn about its ecology
  • Climb a giant kapok tree and view the rainforest canopy
  • Raft the Class III rapids of the Pacuare River

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level

Easy Active

Trip Snapshots

Holding a baby sea turtle Day 4:  nest excavation Baby sea turtle headed towards the ocean White water rafting on the Pacaure River White-faced monkey--Tortuguero Sea turtle rescue in Costa Rica Horseback riding (at the stables)
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Day 1 Arrive in San Jose

Overnight.

Day 2 Pacuare Nature Reserve

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning you’re transferred by car and boat to the Pacuare Nature Reserve. Dinner is by candlelight against the backdrop of the rolling Caribbean sea. Tonight, you can join biologists to search for your first leatherback turtle or just relax on the breezy beach house porch.

Day 3 Leatherback Turtles and River Canals

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a late breakfast, wander along the deserted four miles of beach and study the tractor-like tracks of the previous night’s leatherback turtles. Then take an afternoon boat trip through the adjacent canals and into the reserve’s primary rainforest. Reserva Pacuara is Costa Rica’s most important nesting ground for leatherback turtles. The 1,850 acres of jungle, beaches, and canals are also home to birds such as toucans, herons, kingfishers, parrots, hummingbirds and such rainforest mammals as peccaries, two and three toed sloths, howler, spider and capuchin monkeys, the strange coatimundis, and pumas – just to name a few.

After the sun goes down, accompany one of the biologists on their turtle rounds. During nesting season, your job is to walk the beach looking for a leatherback laying eggs. When you find one, wait with the researcher until the turtle is done laying eggs. Then, have the chance to approach the turtle and assist in measuring and tagging it before the giant leatherback returns to the sea. Turtle egg poachers are a major threat to the survival of leatherbacks, so your next job is to carefully dig up the eggs and rebury them in another location so poachers cannot find the nest.

When the turtles begin to hatch later in the season, you have the chance to observe dozens and sometimes hundreds of baby leatherbacks scratching their way to the surface and making their way into the surf. The process is grueling. Hatchlings at the top of a nest often pack the sand below them so that their siblings cannot escape to the surface. This means that in the morning you might be invited to play midwife to these trapped baby turtles. By loosening the sand in certain nests, you allow hatchlings at the bottom a chance to escape to the sea to begin their lives. While the leatherbacks are hatching, 250-pound green turtles come to these same beaches to lay their eggs, and visitors can be out searching for these turtles, measuring, tagging, and hiding the nests of these endangered turtles too.

Day 4-6 Rainforest Retreat

  • Hotel
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
After a late breakfast, you travel to Selva Bananito Reserve for a few days of jungle discovery and adventure. Bordering Costa Rica’s largest and most pristine nature reserve, Selva Bananito is part of the same rich ecosystem as the 1.5 million acre La Amistad International Peace Park, and is alive with hundreds of species of birds and animals such as toucans, parrots, monkeys, sloths, and the elusive jaguar and tapir.

There’s an adventure here for everyone. You have the chance to climb a giant kapok tree and enter the fascinating world of the rainforest canopy. With the encouragement of Jurgen or Sofia Stein, the brother and sister team that created the reserve, even land lovers find themselves lost in a swinging world 100 feet off the ground and buzzing with life. There’s also horseback riding through the adjacent family farm to learn about the organic tropical farming techniques that their father, Rudi Stein, has developed over the past 25 years. The farm boasts a heliconia garden brimming with enormous tropical flowers, and a half day nature trail through the surrounding primary rainforest where guests can learn about the rainforest ecology. For the adventurous there’s an all-day trip deep into the jungle where a dip in a pool below a 70-foot waterfall is the just reward for the effort. At the end of each day, locally-grown food is served by candlelight before you retire to the tranquil retreat of your jungle cabana.

Day 7 Pacuare River Rafting

This morning you travel towards the Class III-IV whitewater of the Pacuare River. One of Costa Rica’s most exciting whitewater trips, the Pacuare plunges through spectacular mountain gorges and passes through virgin rainforest filled with howler monkeys, toucans, sloths, ocelots, and more. This afternoon you head back to San Jose.

Day 8 Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
The turtle season runs from mid March to late August.
Click here for best viewing times
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Pacuare Reserve

San Jose - Hotels

Selva Bananito

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Per person starting at
$2,054

Notes

Select a Date

Included

  • 9 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Snorkeling gear (mask, fins, snorkel) is provided on your trip free of charge.  Occasionally the snorkeling gear that is supplied is worn, and there may not be enough sizes available to fit every traveler. Therefore, you may want to bring your own snorkeling gear (particularly a mask and snorkel).

Excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Local guides full-day tours: $5-$10 per traveler per day
    Local guides 1/2-day tours: $5 per traveler per day
    River guides: $5 per traveler per day
    Support staff: $2-3 per traveler per day
    Drivers: $5 per traveler per day
    Taxi drivers do not expect tips for their normal services
    Baggage Handlers: $1 per bag
    Hotel hospitality (maid service): $1-$1 per traveler per night
    Restaurants: Most restaurants include in their bill a 10% service charge, as well as a 13% sales tax.  If the service charge has been added, no additional tip is necessary; however, the wait staff is happy if the amount is rounded up. 

    USD and major credit cards are commonly used in Costa Rica, and it is very common to see higher cost items priced in USD. It is recommended to carry cash (NEW $20 bills or smaller ONLY) for taxis and restaurants. Most hotels and restaurants will accept major credit cards, as well.

    Colones are the official Costa Rican currency. It is common to receive change in colones if you pay for something in USD cash. Smaller cost items (sodas, metered taxis, etc.) will commonly be priced in colones.
  • In remote areas, we provide the food, but in-town meals are typically not included in the cost of your trip. This allows our travelers to choose restaurants or local cafes to suit each personal palette. For details on meals included/excluded, please review your itinerary.

    The following are recommendations to help you plan your personal meal budget.  These guidelines are based on per-person expenses and include water and/or soda.

    Mid-range lunch: $10-$15
    Mid-range dinner: $20
    High-range lunch: $15-$25
    High-range dinner: $25-$35
    Domestic beer: $2-$3 a bottle
    Cocktails: $3-$7
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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
Nancy Sin
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When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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