Tropical Forests & Guanacaste Beach Tour - 8 days / 7 nights
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Nov 30 / 2013
|Children (3-11 yrs)||$494.00|
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Day 1: ARRIVE - San Jose Airport meet & greet and transfer to hotel. Overnight in San Jose at Bougainvillea or similar or similar.
Day 2: LA PAZ WATERFALL GARDENS & TRANSFER TO ARENAL - Your journey begins as you leave the urban center of Costa Rica’s central valley and head north into the mountains. Your first stop is the renowned La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This unique, enchanting location boasts a comprehensive rescued wildlife preserve, which includes jungle cats, monkeys, birds, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. Enjoy a walk along a sparkling clear mountain river on a trail that provides easy access and great views of gorgeous waterfalls framed by serene forested mountains. Enjoy an appetizing lunch at the facility’s restaurant set amid the lush beauty of their gardens. Then continue your journey through the tropical plantations and cattle ranches of the northern central lowland plains before arriving at your hotel in the Arenal region. Overnight at the Arenal Observatory Lodge or similar. (B,L)
Day 3: ARENAL HANGING BRIDGES & TRANSFER TO MONTEVERDE - The Arenal Volcano erupted in 1968 devastating the village and farmlands in the western foothills at its base. After slightly more than four decades of activity which included smaller eruptions, hot rock avalanches (termed pyroclastic flows), and lava flows, Arenal Volcano today steams quietly, rising majestically out of the vast surrounding rainforests, and heats numerous local rivers that flow near its base. These natural hot rivers have been channeled into pools to create hot springs. Rainforests are regenerating in the areas cleared by the explosion. The volcano will likely undergo another similar active phase several hundred years from now.
Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a system of suspended bridges and trails that provide access to the forest floor, and canopy layer of a beautiful rainforest. The plant and animal communities that inhabit different layers of a rainforest can be quite different from one another. The lush vegetation is composed of numerous species of palms, ferns, bromeliads, orchids, heliconias and tall trees. From some of the bridges there are panoramic views of nearby Arenal Volcano. As you walk through the rainforest, you may encounter a wide diversity of forest wildlife, including toucans, motmots, trogons, poison dart frogs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and white-faced capuchin monkeys. If you don't recognize the names of these animals, then ask you friendly, knowledgeable guide!.
After exploring the hanging bridges, you will travel into the mountains en route to your hotel in Monteverde. Located in the Tilaran Mountain Range of the Puntarenas Province, Monteverde, which translates to Green Mountain, is the name of both the famous cloud forest reserve and a small nearby community. Your transfer will take you through small rural Costa Rican villages, dairy farms and coffee plantations. The small mountain farms of these towns are owned by "campesinos" (country farmers). The most important regional farm products are organic coffee, which can be purchased in local stores, and milk for the local Monteverde Cheese Factory. In and around the community center there is a large selection of restaurants, and other fun activities, such as butterfly gardens, horse rentals, an orchid garden, art galleries, and an excellent educational bat exhibit.
Overnight in Monteverde at Hotel Fonda Vela (2 nights) or similar. (2B).
Day 4: "ZIP LINE" CANOPY TOUR & MONTEVERDE RESERVE - After breakfast, get a different perspective of the rainforest on a "Zip Line" Canopy Tour. This is an exhilarating way to view the forest while you traverse from treetop to treetop with specialized equipment along horizontal cables that bring you to a series of platforms built amid the treetops! Suitable for children and active seniors, this tour will give you an unusual way to appreciate the magnificent beauty of a cloud forest, by literally flying through it!
The Monteverde area offers a variety of restaurants where you can have a break for lunch after your morning tour (lunch not included).
In the early afternoon you will visit the world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Hike in this reserve on well-groomed trails with your expert naturalist guide. The reserve was founded in 1972, after initially being set aside as a watershed reserve by a group of Quakers who settled here in 1950. A cloud forest is a montane forest that receives rainfall and abundant mist from low lying clouds (mostly in late afternoons into the night and early morning) and is a very rare type of rainforest, accounting for less than 2% of all rainforests. This ecosystem is extremely lush due to the abundant moisture, cool temperatures and the fact that the mist actually fertilizes the foliage. These conditions create a forest where most of the tree trunks and branches are covered by small plants (termed epiphytes) that include ferns, bromeliads and orchids. Cloud forests harbor unique species of plants and animals, including the Resplendent Quetzal which was revered by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans and which spends about half the year in Monteverde feeding and breeding. As a prime example of a cloud forest ecosystem Monteverde has been intensely studied by scientists, and is the site for pioneering research on the effects of climate change on tropical ecosystems. The income the reserve receives from visitors helps support the local economy, and conserves an important, rare ecosystem. Thus the reserve serves as a good example of how a protected rainforest can be of great value to the region's local residents.
Day 5: TRANSFER TO GUANACASTE, TAMARINDO. EL VIEJO WETLAND & TRADITIONAL CASONA -Following a midmorning departure from the misty Monteverde mountains you travel into the drier lowlands of the northwest Guanacaste province. The rivers that tumble out of the steep mountains flow down to rolling flatlands, draining via the Rio Tempisque into the Gulf of Nicoya. This is cattle country and you may see Costa Rican cowboys, known as "sabaneros", riding behind herds of massive long-eared Brahma cattle as you pass through large savannas on your way to the coastal beach community of Tamarindo on the northern Pacific coast. The consistently sunny climate and friendly local culture produce an iconic Costa Rican beach experience.
Today, a morning visit to El Viejo Wetlands. A Costa Rican family that owns El Viejo Mill, one of the biggest sugar production operations in the country, which permanently employs 400 employees and sponsors scholarship programs in the local communities, has shown its strong commitment to the environment by setting aside 5,000 acres for conservation and instituting a wetland restoration program. Bordering the Palo Verde National Park, this magnificent private wildlife refuge is recognized internationally for its exuberant wetland and dry forest flora and fauna. This is critical habitat for many migratory and resident bird species and provides excellent birding; you might see the rose spoon-billed or the mythical Jabiru stork.
You will also visit the on-site "Casona de Guanacaste". La Casona is a cultural, folkloric attraction that is symbolic of the haciendas of the past and the hard working spirit of those who lived and died here in the 1800's during the colonial period of Costa Rica. Today your guide goes back to San Jose.
You will stay at a Tamarindo hotel like Hotel Capitan Suizo (3 nights) or similar. (3B)
Day 6 - 7 TAMARINDO BEACH. FREE DAYS AT THE BEACH & OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES - Savor free days to explore or relax on the beach. There are many ecological friendly activities in the area, including watching sea turtles at night during the nesting season, diving, snorkeling, body surfing, zip-lining, estuary trips, horseback riding and fishing.
Day 8: DEPARTURE - Transfer to Liberia International Airport to check in 3 hours before your scheduled flight home.
Trip Includes: As specified in the above itinerary, lodging, transportation within Costa Rica, airport/hotel transfers on scheduled arrival/departure dates, meals [B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner], national park entrance fees, guide services, ground operator support within Costa Rica and taxes.
Not Included: International airfare, airport departure taxes, meals not specified in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages, personal equipment, extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service), gratuities, or costs associated with changes in your itinerary for reasons beyond our control.