Family Costa Rica

Luxury Small Group Journeys: The finest small-group travel experience

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive San Jose, Costa Rica | A Relaxing Welcome

Arrive in San Jose, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. San Jose is Costa Rica’s capital, home to over one-third of the country’s population, and a city known for its near-perfect weather and friendly residents. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of your day is at leisure to relax before your adventure.

Studio Hotel
Day 2: Tarcoles/Monteverde | Crocodile Cruise

After breakfast, drive to the Central Pacific coast for a boat excursion on the Tarcoles River, home to one of the world’s largest wild crocodile populations, with awe-inspiring specimens up to 15 feet long basking along its banks. Watch for the rare scarlet macaw, iguanas, basilisks and a variety of migrating waterfowl as well. Your expert naturalist guide will be on hand to answer questions you may have on any river denizen you see. Explore a mangrove ecosystem that features four different species of mangrove. Proceed to Monteverde — at times driving local gravel roads — to this verdant hamlet in the cloud forest. Founded by a group of Quakers in 1954, Monteverde is a peaceful community of dairy farmers, naturalists and tourism service providers who joined together to create a model for sustainable development and environmental protection. It is home to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the Santa Elena Reserve. Settle into your beautiful lodgings and enjoy a welcome dinner.

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens   |   Meals: B L D
Day 3: Monteverde | Exploring the Cloud Forest

Embark on a day in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, a protected area of 25,000 acres developed by local residents over the past 40 years. You may sight sloths, white-faced capuchin monkeys, butterflies and any of 400 species of birds, such as the emerald toucanet. See if you can spot the nine area species of hummingbirds that frequent the feeders at the reserve’s Hummingbird Gallery. Visit the fascinating Monteverde Bat Jungle to learn the habits of seven different bat species that roam its huge flight space and form a new appreciation for these winged creatures of the night. On any journey through July, you may catch a glimpse of the resplendent quetzal, which with its feathers of rich scarlet, bright blue and green stands out even in a forest filled with dazzling inhabitants. The reserve contains six ecologically diverse habitats and includes a staggering 1,500 species of plants. Later, meet with one of the original Quaker settlers of the area or another local conservationist to learn the history of the reserve.

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens   |   Meals: B L
Day 4: Monteverde/Arenal | Tasting Costa Rica’s Bounty

On today’s first two stops, travel like a local in a four-wheeldrive taxi. Visit the coffee plantation of Don Juan Cruz, who was born to one of Monteverde’s pioneering families, and learn the generations-old techniques used in creating a great cup of coffee. Chocolate is another Costa Rican crop, and you learn the traditional chocolate-making process. Taste the fruit of the cacao pod as well as chocolate in many forms — liquid, plain, spiced and blended with coffee. Savor a Costa Rican lunch before departing along scenic gravel roads to Rio Chiquito. Then cruise across Lake Arenal to your hotel, set in landscaped gardens with views of the Arenal Volcano, which soars to over 5,300 feet. You may hear it grumble and see it smoke. Enjoy a discussion of the origins, patterns and geography of all of Costa Rica’s volcanoes.

Arenal Nayara Hotel & Garden   |   Meals: B L D
Day 5: Arenal | Forest Views and Volcanic Observations

Explore the Arenal region on an excursion with a bird’s-eye view from numerous fixed and hanging bridges positioned at or above the tree line. Designed with an eye toward beauty and safety, these unobtrusive, suspended footbridges of galvanized steel and high-strength aluminum let you view the forest canopy the way its inhabitants do. On ground level, observe the natural beauty of flowers, lush vegetation and exotic birds as you walk along the beautiful trails and, weather permitting, enjoy some imposing views of Arenal Volcano. A tall, symmetrical cone built from successive layers of lava and ash, Arenal has been Costa Rica’s most active volcano for nearly 50 years. Relax before your visit to the Hidalgo family’s hot springs for a swim or a soak. Giant strangler fig and kapok trees provide shade as you enjoy a natural massage from the small cascade of hot spring water. Enjoy a typical Costa Rican family-style dinner this evening.

Arenal Nayara Hotel & Garden   |   Meals: B D
Day 6: Tortuguero | Wildlife of the Rainforest

Board a short charter flight to Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast this morning. Slow-moving tropical rivers define the essence of charming Tortuguero, and you explore its narrow, tranquil canals by boat in search of the abundant wildlife often hidden by thick vines and other flora. Originally intended to protect a major nesting beach of the Atlantic green sea turtle, Tortuguero National Park now protects more than 77,000 acres, considered one of the last large areas of tropical rainforest in Central America. The park spans 11 natural habitats and is home to monkeys, three-toed sloths, river otters, caimans, lizards and frogs, including the thumbnail-sized strawberry poison dart frog. Toucans, parrots, kingfishers and other birds grace the sky as you enjoy an afternoon boat excursion into the park’s creeks and backwaters. Observe the foraging of diverse wildlife, perhaps catching a glimpse of egrets entering their rookery or a pair of tiger herons on the wing.

Tortuga Lodge   |   Meals: B L D
Day 7: Tortuguero | Where the Green Sea Turtles Roam

If you are an early riser, you may join your expert naturalist guide for a bird walk this morning. Otherwise, after breakfast, depart on a private boat excursion led by your guide, exploring the creeks of Tortuguero National Park. The morning hours are especially active in the rainforest, when the animals and birds are hungry and foraging for food. You might encounter a noisy troop of howler monkeys munching figs, a sleek river otter on the hunt or a seemingly inert caiman patiently waiting for its next meal to swim by. After enjoying lunch yourself, save room for a traditional Costa Rican dessert, prepared before you in a cooking demonstration by a local chef. Next, visit the quaint village of Tortuguero, walking through the paths lined with colorful homes and chatting with locals to learn about their way of life. At the Sea Turtle Conservation Museum, learn about the Atlantic green sea turtles that thrive on Tortuguero’s shores. (Tortuguero derives from the word tortuga, Spanish for turtle.) You may wander the beach, where thousands of sea turtles nest from June through October. It is thought that these gentle vegetarians return to nest on the beach where they were born. Optional kayaks are available to access the most remote areas of Tortuguero National Park at your leisure this afternoon. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner.

Tortuga Lodge   |   Meals: B L D
Day 8: San Jose | Zipline Adventure

Depart early this morning by boat for Caño Blanco, and then drive to San Jose on gravel roads through farmland and plantations of banana and pineapple, as your guide explains the farming techniques employed here as well as the important nuances of the local culture and economy. Cross lush Braulio Carrillo National Park and then stop just outside of it at the Atlantic Forest Zipline Adventure. This thrilling morning tour includes 10 zip lines of 260 to 460 feet in length that take you flying across the magnificent Molinete River three times. Strap into gear specifically made for the rainforest canopy and hold on tight for an exhilarating zip through the surrounding forest. As you soar between platforms, take in the 360 degree view of the beautiful surrounding canopy, just as a bird of the forest might enjoy. When you’re not gliding through the sky, enjoy walking the forest floor of this private reserve, visiting the butterfly garden and frog pond along the way. After a lunch of tasty Costa Rican fare, continue to San Jose, where your afternoon is at leisure.

Studio Hotel   |   Meals: B L
Day 9: Depart San Jose

After breakfast and perhaps a moment to reflect on your exciting odyssey, transfer to the airport and depart.

Meals: B