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Costa Rica attracts 1.5 million visitors each year. Some head for the rainforest in search of scarlet macaws, sloths, monkeys and jaguars, while others stick to the Caribbean and Pacific coasts to relax on the beaches, snorkel or kayak. Guided tours allow you to experience the best of Costa Rica’s diverse environments with the benefits of expert local knowledge and a fully-planned itinerary.
Costa Rica Adventure
Wilderness Travel’s “Costa Rica Adventure” is a seven-day trip beginning and ending in the capital city, San Jose. It is an ideal tour for adventurous nature-lovers, combining energetic activities like sea kayaking, hiking volcanoes and zip line canopy tours with naturalist-led wildlife-viewing excursions. The first destination after San Jose is the Nectandra Cloud Forest, a biological preserve, then it’s on to Arenal Volcano National Park. Stay overnight in a lodge overlooking the dramatic 5,300-foot volcano, then explore the rainforest via a network of trails and hanging bridges high in the canopy. On the fourth day, head for Manuel Antonio National Park and stop off for a canopy zip line tour along the way. At the park, hike through the forest to the beach, and check out monkeys, iguanas and colorful birds. In the evening, enjoy a sunset catamaran ride. Also, an extra one- or two-day white water rafting extension is available.
Costa Rica: Hidden Treasures
Spend 16 days in Costa Rica with the environmentally-focused Sierra Club on the “Costa Rica: Hidden Treasures” guided tour. After the first night in San Jose, embark on a journey to the cloud forest with a stop at La Paz Waterfall and Gardens along the way. The third and fourth days of the tour are spent in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, looking for birds like scarlet macaws, hummingbirds and the endangered quetzal. Then, follow the Pan American Highway south, crossing over the 10,600-foot Cerro del Muerte to the Pacific Coast. Stay in a private reserve near Ballena Marine National Park and enjoy snorkeling, hiking, swimming or spotting whales and dolphins. Days seven-to-nine are spent exploring the isolated tropical rainforest of the Osa Peninsula and the town of Palmar Sur, and kayaking among the mangroves of the Gulfo Dulce. On day 10, head for Drake Bay to take a boat ride; stop by Manuel Antonio National Park; then lodge near Carara National Park for two nights. The remainder of the tour is spent around Arenal Volcano, where you may soak in the hot springs and hike, then return to San Jose for departure. Prices for the trip include all meals and lodging, guides, transportation and kayak rental and instruction. The Sierra Club describes the trip as pleasant and comfortable, but warns it is not a luxury vacation.
Costa Rica Family Experience
Discovery Adventures offers this nine-day “Costa Rica Family Experience” tour lead by local guides and Discovery Adventures guides. The tour begins with a day and night in San Jose. On the second day, visit La Fortuna at the foot of the Arenal Volcano, and the Danaus Ecocenter to see tropical plants and animals. The following day’s adventures include traditional tortilla-making with a local family and a raft float along the Penas Blancas River. On day four, head to Monteverde, the base for exploring the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve. Next, head for the Pacific Coast and Manuel Antonio National Park, home to monkeys, sloths and over 350 bird species. Enjoy one last day in San Jose before flying home. Eight breakfasts, three lunches and one dinner are included, and all nights are spent in comfortable hotels.