Costa Rica Holidays - Holidays to Costa Rica - sloth on the beach

Independent Costa Rica (self drive)


RCA14S
16 NIGHTS
FROM £1,795
International flights and car hire quoted separately
Explore the wildlife and scenery of spectacular Costa Rica, combining a guided tour of the waterways of Tortuguero National Park, famous for its turtles, with a visit to Arenal Volcano & Monteverde Cloud Forest. Complete your holiday relaxing at Manuel Antonia on the Pacific Coast, with superb diving opportunities. Specified English speaking guides included.
Costa Rica Self Drive Holiday Tortuguero Arenal Volcano Rainforests
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Monteverde Cloud Forest
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Scuba Diving
• 
San Jose
• 
Central Valley
• 
Volcan Poas National Park
• 
La Paz Waterfall
• 
Tortuguero National Park
• 
Birding
• 
Arenal Volcano
• 
Monteverde Cloud Forest
• 
Manuel Antonio
• 
Scuba Diving
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred to this capital city in the Central Valley region, with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north.
 
Check into your hotel and relax in this modern city.
Day 2
Today your driver will take you on a tour through the Central Valley.
 
We drive 1.5-hours through coffee plantations, strawberry fields and dairy farms to Poás Volcano National Park, with its magnificent blue crater lake. When the mist and clouds part you can see the sulphuric, bubbling lake at the bottom, surrounded by smoke and steam rising from fumaroles. Views of the crater are most likely between March and November, with the early morning offering the best opportunity. Trails lead through the cloud forest to Lake Botos, which fills an extinct crater and is home to nearly 80 species of cloud forest birds. Hummingbirds are easy to see and you may also spot an emerald toucanet, brown robin, black guan or masked woopecker. Coyotes, rabbits, frogs and toads are common and you will see many bromeliads, ferns and mistletoes.
 
We continue to the Doka Coffee Estate in the coffee capital of Sabanilla, to learn more about the production, harvesting, processing and roasting of the grain. The farm belongs to the Vargas Ruiz family, who have pioneered coffee production for more than 70 years. Here we enjoy an included lunch before returning to San Jose in the late afternoon.
 
Note: Wear good walking shoes today and take a windbreaker and rain jacket.
Day 3
An early departure this morning, with 06.30 pick-up from your hotel for your 4-hour shared transfer by air-conditioned coach to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast. This remote wetland system covers an area of over 300 km2. It support a wide range of threatened flora and fauna and is a RAMSAR birding site of international significance.
 
We stop at Guapiles around 08.00 for a Costa Rican breakfast, before continuing to the docks at La Pavona or Cano Blanco.  Here we board the boat for our 1.5-hour ride along the La Suerte River and the wider Tortuguero River, to your lodge in the heart of these lush waterways.
 
On arrival check into your lodge and enjoy a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to visit the local village with a guide, to observe their way of life. We walk back to our lodge along the beach trail, with balance of afternoon at leisure.
  
Note: As turtle tours book out quickly, on arrival we recommend you immediately book your tour at reception, as this cannot be booked in advance (approx. $35 per person).
Day 4
This morning is devoted to exploring the waterways of Tortuguero National Park by boat, with your local guide.
  
At sunrise the rainforests comes alive with wildlife including sloths, monkeys and over half of all the bird species found in Costa Rica. In season you can see turtles laying their eggs on the beach; and later in the year you can see the hatchlings emerge - an unforgettable sight. You may also see alligators, tapirs, anteaters, ocelots and peccaries.
 
With eleven different habitats - including rainforests, mangroves, swamps, beaches and lagoons - this park sustains a wide range of bio diversity and is teeming with bird and insect life. It is very hot and humid, and receives up to 250 inches (6,400 mm) of rain a year.
 
Return to your lodge for lunch, after which you can join a guided walk along the pathways of your hotel or simply relax by the swimming pool.
 
In the evening we recommend an optional Turtle Tour (must be booked locally). To ensure you do not disturb the turtles, you must wear dark clothing - blue, black or grey - and closed shoes. Cameras are strictly prohibited.
 
Note: Take rain gear and a windbreaker for your boat ride, as showers can always be expected in the rainforest.
Day 5
Check out of your room early this morning (07.00) so that you are ready to depart after breakfast and travel 1.5-hours by boat to Guapiles, where we stop for an included lunch. Here you will collect your hire car.
 
After lunch drive 4-hours to the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America. The route crosses a large agricultural and cattle area, and at Sarapiqui you can stop for an optional chocolate tour (pay entrance fee locally). Cacao was very important in the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations and today it is enjoyed throughout the world. Cross a suspension bridge to a former cacao plantation and learn the secrets of transforming cacao fruit into chocolate. View the chocolate-making process first-hand and treat your tastebuds to some organic rainforest chocolate.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna and enjoy the surrounding national park and thermal hot springs.
Day 6
This morning drive yourself to the Hanging Bridges (entrance fee included) - a series of suspension bridges offering wonderful views of Lake Arenal and the volcano. The bridges form part of a 2-mile (3 km) self-guided interpretative trail, allowing you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching.
 
In the afternoon you will be collected from your hotel for an included guided tour of Arenal National Park, with its volcano and hot springs. Arenal Volcano rises to 5,250 feet and towers over the village of La Fortuna. On the morning of 29 July 1968, after having been inactive for three thousand years, it erupted in the most spectacular way. The earth started shaking, clouds of ashes rose into the sky, women washing clothes by the river felt the water becoming hot, and lava started pouring down the side of the volcano.
 
Your tour of the volcano starts with a drive to its active northwestern side, followed by a guided walk along either the Toucan Trail through the rainforest and across a large lava flow, or along the El Silencio Mirador Trail (depending on weather conditions). Your guide will explain the great variety of plants, wildlife and lava rock formations found in this region. Once on top of the lava flow you will have a beautiful view of Lake Arenal. The hike ends at a viewing area where, weather permitting, you may be able to see red hot lava rolling down the side of the volcano.
Day 7
At leisure to explore the hot springs and magnificent surroundings of Arenal National Park.
 
Many optional activities are available such as a gentle cruise down the Penas Blanca River, hiking and mountain biking, zip-lining, treetop canopy tours and horse riding. If you are adventurous, you can experience the excitement of white water rafting down grade 2 and 3 rapids on the Rio Balsa.
 
Day tours are available to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, cross into Nicaragua at the Penas Blancas Massif, visit the city of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui or explore the Rio Celeste with its turquoise waters.
Day 8
This morning depart from Arenal and drive 4-hours to the Monteverde Cloud Forest, founded by a small group of conservation-minded Quakers who were looking for a peaceful place to live.
 
Shrouded in mist for most of the year, this primary rainforest comprises six different ecological zones spread over 10,500 hectares (26,000 acres) at different elevations - 90% of which is virgin cloud forest. As a result, it has exceptionally great biodiversity and is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the tropics.
 
Check into your lodge, relax and enjoy beautiful vews over the Gulf of Nicoya.
Day 9
Today is free to explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest, where woodlands give way to rainforests and where tall trees – festooned with orchids, bromeliads, ferns, vines and mosses – rise high into the sky. In other parts you will find swamp forests and deep gorges with numerous streams creating waterfalls, rapids and pools.
 
This high elevation rainforest offers miles of trails, with excellent opportunities for bird watching. It sustains over 2,500 different plant species (including the highest number of orchid species in the world), more than 100 mammals, over 400 birds, 120 reptiles and amphibians, and thousands of insects. Wildlife you may see here include the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, three-wattled bellbird, bare-necked umbrella bird, and the resplendent quetzal that is best seen in the dry months from January to July (pay for guided tour locally).
 
Other optional activities include a ride in the Sky Tram, Sky Trek canopy tour by zipline, nocturnal visit to Monteverde Frog Pond, El Trapiche agricultural tour (sugar and coffee production) and horse riding.
Day 10
Today drive 4-hours to the beach resort of Manuel Antonio, renowned for its beautiful white sandy beaches surrounded by jungle and many hiking trails.
 
Check into your hotel and relax on the warm Pacific Coast.
Day 11
This morning enjoy a visit to the rainforests of Manuel Antonio National Park.
 
Your guide will explain the geography of the area and point out sloths, monkeys, birds and other fascinating wildlife.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Day 12
At leisure to relax on the emerald beaches of Manuel Antonio and enjoy the facilities of your hotel.
 
You can arrange an optional excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park, where a naturalist guide will explain the geography of the area and point out sloths, monkeys, birds and other wildlife.
Day 13
Today drive 1-hour from Manuel Antionio to the beach town of Dominical, popular with surfers because of its year-round waves.
 
Check into your hotel and explore the town and its splendid beaches.
Day 14
Drive to San Jose Airport for your flight home.
 
Please note there is an airport tax of approx. $29 per person payable on departure.
Day 15
At leisure to relax on the emerald beaches of Manuel Antonio and enjoy the facilities of your hotel.
 
You can arrange an optional excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park, where a naturalist guide will explain the geography of the area and point out sloths, monkeys, birds and other wildlife.
Day 16
Drive 4-hours from Manuel Antonio to the city of San Jose.
 
Check into your hotel in this capital city.
Day 17
Today drive 3.5-hours from Dominical to the capital of San Jose.
 
Check into your hotel and relax on arrival in the city.
Day 18
Drive to San Jose Airport for your flight home.
 
Please note there is an airport tax of approx. $29 per person payable on departure.

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