We drive to the area surrounding Arenal Volcano. Following a large eruption in 1968, Arenal was Costa Rica's most active volcano until recently when it entered a resting phase. There is a lot of geo-thermal activity in this area, with natural hot springs, waterfalls and Lake Arenal waiting to be discovered. Today we visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a 65 metre cascade of water plunging into an emerald pool below.
A short trail through the rainforest brings us to a steep set of steps that we must descend to reach the waterfall and then ascend to the exit - this takes around 20-30 minutes and will be rewarded with a swim in the emerald pool. It is possible to visit the lookout point and wait for the group here if you prefer. There will be plenty of time to see what animals you can spot in the forest along the way; keep an eye out for colourful toucans in the trees! Stay: Arenal Paraiso (or similar) (B).
After breakfast we make our way towards the Balsa River for an exhilarating whitewater rafting excursion. The rapids here are graded II and III and have nicknames such as “Magnetic Rock” and “Dredges” – prepare to get wet and wild on this adventure which is sure to be great fun for everyone! No experience of this activity is needed as a full safety briefing and instruction is given before getting into the rafts. Tropical scenery flanks the river and we may spot monkeys, toucans or other animals in the surrounding forest.
There will also be a stop for drinks and tropical fruits along the way. On our return to La Fortuna we stop to enjoy a delicious lunch at “Vida Campesina”, a traditional country estate that allows visitors to experience typical country life in Costa Rica. Lunch will be made with ingredients harvested on the property and prepared on a wood stove in traditional style. Stay: Arenal Paraiso (or similar) (B/L).
From Arenal we travel to the Tilaran Mountain Range in the Central Highlands for a taste of the Costa Rican cloud forest. Reaching Monteverde involves a fast boat across Lake Arenal which is incredibly scenic and will take roughly half an hour. Our journey is then completed by private minibus 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.
Our total journey time will be in the region of 3. 5 hours, including the lake crossing. Around 6pm we have a night walk to experience the forest in the dark. This gives an entirely new perspective on the habitat of the cloud forest, with many pairs of eyes staring back at you! We may see sloths, armadillos, porcupines, possums and coatis and will surely hear a cacophony of insects and amphibians. Stay: Monteverde Country Lodge (or similar) (B).
We travel to the region of Samara on the Pacific Coast, one of the best kept secrets in Costa Rica! The broad, shady bay is backed by coconut palms and the water is calm and safe for swimming thanks to a coral reef just out to sea on which the normally large, Pacific waves break before reaching the beach.
There are plenty of facilities in this area but there's a noticeable absense of big resort hotels, which makes for a nice atmosphere. Our hotel faces onto Carrillo beach in the neighbouring bay to Samara. We have a free afternoon here to enjoy the facilities and discover the area. Stay: Nammbu Hotel (or similar) (B).
Today we take a private boat trip around 2 – 10 nautical miles offshore from Carrillo beach in search of dolphins. You could be lucky enough to see Spotted dolphins, Central American Spinner dolphins or Common Bottlenose dolphins which all inhabit this area year around. Feel the ocean breeze and enjoy the scenery of the coastline as we search for these playful animals who love to swim in the bow wave of the boat! As we make our way back along the coast, we will anchor near the shores of Isla Chora, a delightful white sand beach full of hermit crabs and iguanas.
This is a great spot for a refreshing swim and a chance to observe the underwater world by wearing a mask and snorkel. Beneath the surface teems a lively world with huge marine diversity. In total today's excursion will last around 4 hours, with the rest of your time at leisure to enjoy the area. Stay: Nammbu Hotel (or similar) (B).
8 Days San Jose Liberia
Operated By: Exodus