The group flight usually arrives into San Jose this evening. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. This evening is the perfect opportunity to meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers. Accommodation: Park Inn hotel (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Our adventure begins early this morning, leaving San Jose behind as we travel to the north-east of Costa Rica to Tortuguero National Park. Accessible only by boat or light aircraft, Tortuguero's vast network of waterways, canals and swamps is remarkably tranquil, unspoilt and devoid of noise pollution. On reaching the pier we board a small motorboat for the one hour fifteen minute journey to our lodge, which is nestled in the heart of the main lagoon. Our afternoon is spent in Tortuguero village, where it’s possible to visit the Sea Turtle Museum (a donation will be requested at the entrance). Tortuguero is probably most famous as a nesting site for the endangered Green turtle, which can be seen arriving onto the beach to lay eggs from late July to October (as part of an optional excursion). Hawksbill, Loggerhead and Giant Leatherback turtles also nest in this region, and during November to January baby turtles start to hatch and make their way towards the ocean. Today's travel time will be in the region of five to six hours including a break for breakfast. Accommodation: Pachira Lodge (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
An early morning boat trip enables us to discover the extraordinary flora and fauna of Tortuguero, passing serenely along the waterways. At this time of day wildlife is usually at its most active and with the help of our expert guide we are likely to encounter monkeys, caiman, iguanas, butterflies and many of the 300+ bird species recorded here. We return to the lodge for a hearty breakfast by the river. This afternoon we return to the waterways for a second boat trip along a different canal. Alternatively, the lodge is a tranquil spot to relax this afternoon if you want to take some time out to enjoy the facilities or follow a short walking trail through the forest. Accommodation: Pachira Lodge (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Leave Tortuguero the same way we arrived by taking a small boat to the pier. Our bus will be at the pier waiting to drive us to the region of Arenal, passing huge banana, pineapple and sugar cane plantations on the way. Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until fairly recently, when it entered a resting phase and can no longer be seen spitting ash, smoke or lava. However there is still a lot of geothermal activity in the area and you'll have the opportunity to visit one of the excellent hot springs this evening. Alternatively have a go on the Sky Tram / Sky Trek, departing at 5pm. In clear weather there are great views of the volcano from our overnight base, the nearby town of La Fortuna. Today's travelling time is around five and a half hours including a lunch stop. Accommodation: Lomas del Volcán Hotel or San Bosco (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge and the Frío River combine to create a humid area that is very biodiverse and harbours a great variety of resident and migratory birds, three different species of monkey, iguanas, sloths, turtles and caimans. We transfer approximately 1.5 hours to the village of Los Chiles, found close to the Nicaraguan border. From here we board a boat for our river adventure, which lasts around 2.5 hours and passes through tropical rainforest and pastures until we arrive at the marshlands. The Olivaceous cormorant makes its nests in the area and Wood storks and jabiru (the largest bird in Central America and much endangered) can also be seen. Along the river we may also see Howler monkeys, Three-toed sloths, caimans, lizards, and turtles. Accommodation: Lomas del Volcán Hotel or San Bosco (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
From Arenal we travel to the Tilaran Mountain Range in the Central Highlands for our first taste of a Costa Rican cloud forest. The journey provides breathtaking views of the Gulf of Nicoya and the islands below as we ascend the hills towards Monteverde, a forest-cloaked region whose name literally means 'Green Mountain'. The high altitude supports a complex eco-system where plants thrive, particularly orchids of which there are some 400+ different varieties here. Today's drive is around four hours- the last 40km of road is gravel and can be bumpy, particularly following heavy rain. In the afternoon it's possible to join an optional coffee tour to learn about the importance of this crop to the socio-economic development of the country. This evening we set off on a night walk in Monteverde Wildlife Refuge. Situated within primary cloud forest, this reserve is committed to the preservation of native flora and fauna. Taking a nocturnal walk allows for a completely new perspective on the forest, which our guides will bring to life for us! Accommodation: Ficus Hotel (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is a favourite destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. A walk through the reserve will reveal huge old growth trees covered in moss whilst the surrounding mist permeates the atmosphere. The reserve’s geographic, topographic and climatic conditions have allowed for a surprising biodiversity to thrive. There are four ecological “Life Zones” that harbour different ecosystems for hundreds of species - mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, insects and arachnids. We can also find a variety of mosses, vines, other plants and trees typical of the cloud forest. One of the trails of the reserve leads to a lookout point right at the top of the continental divide where, on clear days, you can be privy to the breathtaking view of both of Costa Rica’s coasts: the Caribbean and the Pacific. These forests are also one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered Resplendant Quetzal. Accommodation: Ficus Hotel (or similar) *Comfortable Hotel*
After breakfast we return to San Jose Airport and the trip comes to an end. It's time to bid Costa Rica and the rest of the group goodbye. Land only clients are advised to check the transfer time with their sales consultant before making flight arrangements, or stay an additional night in San Jose to ensure they reach the airport in time.
* Travel by air-conditioned bus and boat * 7 nights in comfortable hotels and lodges * All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners included * Green turtle nesting season: July to October
All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 2 dinners are included. In the itinerary we state which meals are included on which day. Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet style, and lunches and dinners at Tortuguero are also buffet style. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Costa Rican specialities include 'Gallo Pinto', a black bean and rice dish considered to be a staple part of the local diet. Soups and stews are also common, and fresh fruit is abundant and will no doubt be one of the highlights of your time in the tropics.
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