10 Day Nature Lovers
Last Updated: Feb 21, 2012
Tortuguero, Arenal & Manuel Antonio
Day 1: Arrival
Fly into San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Explore downtown San Jose and spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.
Day 2: Off to Tortuguero
A shuttle will pick you up in San Jose, stopping first to enjoy a typical Costa Rican breakfast before boarding an open-air boat to Tortuguero. The hour-long ride affords glimpses of wetland wildlife, including tiger herons, green iguanas, and the occasional caiman. In Tortuguero, you’ll take a guided tour of the lodge’s grounds, which include a butterfly farm, iguana nursery, frog garden, and botanical gardens. In the evening, lounge by the pool, help release baby frogs into the wild, or take an optional night hike into the Caribbean rainforest.
Day 3: Canal Explorations
Discover Tortuguero’s incredible wildlife on an early morning kayaking tour, beach walk, or guided hike. Later, you’ll take a short boat ride to the lodge’s private hiking trails, which meander through tropical rainforest. Listen for howler monkeys, and keep your eyes peeled for camouflaged wildlife: sloths, frogs, lizards, and waterfowl are common sightings. Your afternoon hours are filled with an exciting canal tour, which takes you on a journey to the area’s hottest wildlife spots. In the evening, gear up for Tortuguero’s biggest attraction: nesting sea turtles. Depending on the season, you may observe as leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill, or green sea turtles lay their eggs on the protected beach.
Day 4: Return to San Jose
Enjoy a final canal ride before embarking on your private bus to San Jose. You’ll enjoy lunch en route before arriving in town mid-afternoon. This time is yours to take a city tour, enjoy a concert, or dine in one of San Jose’s excellent restaurants.
Day 5: Very Volcanic
Set off on a volcano exploration, beginning at Poas Volcano, one of the country’s most visited active volcanoes. You’ll arrive early and hike to the viewpoint for a spectacular vista of its blue crater lagoon and smoking fumaroles. Finish your hike through Poas Volcano National Park’s cloud forest and then continue your journey to Arenal. In the afternoon, choose between a volcano hike or a visit to the best view in town – on clear nights, Arenal Volcano puts on one of the world’s best lava shows. Finish the day with dinner and relaxation at Arenal’s famous volcano-fed hot springs.
Day 6: Birdwatching
Grab your binoculars at dawn and set our on an unforgettable birdwatching tour. Depending on the season, your trained naturalist guide will take you up to Arenal Volcano, to a private reserve, or to Lake Arenal for the area’s hottest birding spots. Prepare to spot keel-billed toucans, Montezuma oropendola, laughing falcons, and other species. Don’t forget your field guide!
Day 7: Hiking and Hanging
Arenal’s hanging bridges are one of our favorite hiking locales. Almost two miles of beautiful hiking trails weave through dense rainforest along a series of fixed and suspension bridges, ranging from 16 to 330 feet long, allowing for exceptional bird and wildlife viewing. Discover new foliage, learn about the delicate forest ecosystem, and glimpse animals only seen from this vantage point. After lunch, if you’re up for it, take an exhilarating canopy tour, where zipline cables send you flying past a smoking Arenal Volcano.
Day 8: Beach Bummin’
Travel down the Pacific coast to Manuel Antonio, a beachfront town bordered by tropical rainforest. After lunch, hop aboard a luxury yacht for a relaxing sunset sail. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales – you may spot a humpback breeching in the distance or a playful dolphin following the boat. Relax in the sun or dive into the cool ocean waters for an hour of snorkeling. Later, you’ll witness Manuel Antonio’s spectacular sunset; watch as the orange sun dips low in the sky, disappearing over the horizon in a fiery blaze.
Day 9: Life is Sweet
There are more than 25,000 orchid species in the world, but only one variety is edible – do you know which one? Learn the answer and more on Manuel Antonio’s unique spice tour. Discover the delicate flavors of Ceylon cinnamon; observe the vanilla bean drying process; and learn the Mayan secret to making chocolate. This delicious spice tour ends with homemade treats crafted from the farm’s own produce. Enjoy hot cocoa infused with pepper, cinnamon ice cream, and other masterpieces created by an inspired chef. In the afternoon, hike through Manuel Antonio National Park, home to beachfront rainforest, troops of curious monkeys, and gentle waves.
Day 10: Back to San Jose
Take a morning tour to a local butterfly farm, where you’ll spot the blue morpho, blaze-colored monarch, and other colorful species. After lunch, it’s time to head back to San Jose to catch your flight. If your plane doesn’t leave until the following day, we’ll arrange your hotel for the evening.