After breakfast, this may be the highlight of your trip, as you will enjoy a visit of La Selva Biological Station. One of the premier Neotropical sites for biological studies, La Selva is a utopia not only for scientists, but for birders as well as naturalists. La Selva was originally established in 1954 by Dr. Leslie Holdridge as a farm committed to testing mixed plantations for the improvement of natural resources management. It was purchased in 1968 by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and declared a private biological reserve and station. Since then, it has become one of the most important research sites in the world for tropical rainforest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from studies conducted here. The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a syndicate of universities from the United States and Costa Rica that operates as an ecological education and research center. Located on the northern plains near the convergence of the Rivers Sarapiqui and Puerto Viejo, La Selva contains over 1,534 hectares of primary forests, swamps and abandoned farmland. There are over 100 species of mammals, thousands of insects, 2,000 species of plants, including 800 species of trees, all of which have been identified in this geologically rich area. Over 500 species of birds have been recorded here, including parrots, trogons, jacamars, manakins, tanagers, woodcreepers, antbirds, flycatchers and wrens. Sounds ringing through the forest produce an unforgettable memory of Costa Rica and its natural wonders.
You will reach your accommodation, the Selva Verde Lodge, in the afternoon. Founded in 1985, Selva Verde Lodge is located in the lush lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica on a very large, private tract of tropical rain forest and rich secondgrowth habitats. It is adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Organization for Tropical Studies field station, La Selva. While at Selva Verde, you may schedule an array of activities suited to your every interest and ability, from relaxing in a hammock and absorbing the wonder of the forest, to canoeing on the Sarapiquí, or hiking Selva Verde’s rain forest trails with a resident naturalist. Delicious meals featuring the local cuisine are served by gracious, native Costa Ricans. An open and spacious dining room with its thatched roof harmonizes well with the jungle ambience. The resident managers, fluent in English and Spanish, are attentive to your every need. Beyond its roughly 500 acres of preserved rain forest, the lodge boasts a resident naturalist, local guides and an ever-expanding reference library. The Lodge provides ample accommodations in 45 double rooms with private baths and showers. The rooms are well maintained and open into large, spacious, wooden balconies. Overnight at the SELVA VERDE LODGE www.selvaverde.com.
Today you will visit an 80 acre organic pineapple plantation located in La Virgen de Sarapiqui, an area surrounded by stunning nature, and characterized by the richness of its soil.
Founded 20 years ago by a local farmer who recognized that organic, sustainable agriculture is the future of humanity, the Organic Paradise Tour allows visitors to experience the best of what this fertile land has to offer. The owner has worked to bring more employment to the community through the foundation of Piñas Orgánicas SOGO and through continued growth and diversification of production with varieties of crops such as yucca, lemon, rambutan and soursop(guanavana). On the journey an expert will guide you on an excellent rural adventure across the farm on a specially designed tractor where you see and learn about the different sections and stages of growth of organic pineapples and discuss the maintenance of the plantation. Guests will learn tips regarding the production of pineapple along with the history of the indigenous roots in the plantations of Costa Rica. At the end of the tour, accompanied by traditional music, there will be a tasting of juice, fresh slices of pineapple and the farm’s homemade jam.
In the afternoon the tour will continue on to La Tirimbina where you will be led across a suspension bridge through a sector of the Tirimbina forest to a former cacao-growing plot. During the hike, the natural and cultural history of the cacao tree will be explained.
On arrival at the plot, the artisanal process by which cacao fruit is transformed into chocolate will be demonstrated (harvest, fermentation, drying, etc.), while the story of pre- and post-colonial chocolate is told. Here you will finally get to taste the various types of chocolate while watching it prepared in the traditional way. Overnight at the SELVA VERDE LODGE.
Today you will leave Sarapiqui, and head towards the magnificent Arenal Volcano. In the afternoon you will view the rainforest from a different perspective, as you visit the Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. Mistico Hanging Bridges are one the most beautiful environmentally friendly projects in Costa Rica. Located in front of the Arenal Volcano, within the corridor followed by birds migrating between North and South America, the trails and bridges of this project will bring you as close as you could ever hope to get to the birds, the flowers and the lush vegetation of the primary rainforest. Walk right into the forest, thanks to the imposing hanging bridges overlooking the canopy and easy, safe and beautiful trails with views of the Volcano. Set in dense rainforest these 15 suspension bridges are a great way to observe the natural beauty of the Arenal Rainforest and Volcano area with a guide or on your own it is nature at its finest.
You will stay at the Arenal Springs Resort & Spa, which is conveniently located just outside of La Fortuna. All rooms have incredible views of the volcano, private terraces, television, wifi, and mini bar. Enjoy the rainfall showers equipped with organic shampoo, conditioner, and soap made on site using ingredients from the gardens. The resort has its own natural hot springs, and a pool with swim up bar for cooling off. Overnights at the ARENAL SPRINGS.
Your second day in Arenal is filled with all the volcanic town has to offer. You will start your day in the waterfalls of the dormant Chato Volcano. The hike to the waterfall takes about 20 minutes and leads through lush tropical forest. The waterfall itself is about 75 meters high, and plummets into a natural pool of water that is perfect for swimming. Splash about with friends, take pictures, and enjoy one of nature’s finest sights.
In the afternoon you will set out on a 3-mile hike along the trails of the Arenal Volcano National Park. Informative tour guides will lead you through secondary rain forest for the best views of the volcano. Along the way you’ll observe a variety of plants, animals, and volcanic rock formations; you’ll also enjoy views of Lake Arenal. During this guided walk, you’ll walk across three trails – Las Coladas, El Ceibo, and Lava 1992. Appropriately, you’ll see old lava flows and massive Ceibo trees.
After a day spent hiking, calm your muscles at the Baldi Thermal Hot Springs. Consisting of 25 pools of varying temperatures filled by crystalline waterfalls, the therapeutic mineral-rich waters are ideal after a long day. Dinner will be provided at the springs before returning to your hotel for the night.
Overnight at ARENAL SPRINGS.
This morning you will head towards Manuel Antonio National Park, and the Tarcoles River. You will take a boat ride along the river which is legendary for bearing one of the most important crocodile populations in Costa Rica, some reaching as long at 4 meters. In addition to the crocodiles, you will see iguanas, and basilisks, and can watch the great diversity of birds native to this this area, including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Pelicans, Frigatebirds, Scarlet Macaws and countless others. You will be accompanied by a Capitan and a bilingual guide, both navigation experts who will provide all the information about the fauna and flora of the river. They will facilitate photography and filming of wildlife at close range.
Your second day in Manuel Antonio will be spent hiking the National Park. The Park’s two white sandy beaches, Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio, stand out as its main attractions. Just off shore are twelve islands, most of them without vegetation, but excellent seabird sanctuaries nonetheless. Punta Cathedral was an island at one time, an accumulation of the sediments joined to the land with a sandy belt named Tombolo, a prized nesting site for the brown booby. You may see dolphins here, and once in a while a pod of migratory whales. There are more than 100 mammal species and 180 species of birds here, including the rare White Ibis. Squirrel monkeys (another endangered species) play in the trees above the trails in the Park. In addition, you may see two-toed sloths, raccoons, white-nosed coatis, howler and white-faced monkeys, and squirrels. Take your pick of any one of several short trails that meander through the park, passing scenic overlooks and white-sand beaches (the second beach is one of Costa Rica’s safest swimming beaches, and is also a good place for snorkeling). The most popular trail is the small loop that takes you around Punta Cathedral and pays off with a wonderful view of the Pacific. El Perezoso takes you to Playa Blanca. El Puerto Escondido and El Mirador trails take you through the dense humid tropical forests to Playa Puerto Escondido. With its stunning, picture-postcard backdrop, and miles of white sandy beaches it’s easy to see why Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s most popular.
Your third day enjoying the National Park will be spent along the Savegre River. A highly experienced guide will take you along the river, stopping at spots for swimming and magnificent photo opportunities. Guests commonly see egrets, osprey, toucans, and parrots while floating along the trail. Towards the end of the trip you will stop in the little village of Silencio for a traditional Tico lunch.
You will stay at Si Como No, an eco-tourism resort that has proven luxury can coexist with nature. Founded in 1992, the resort actively practices sustainable tourism, not only protecting and restoring the natural habitat, but also giving supporting the local community. Enjoy the pool, spa, hot tub, and gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific.
Overnights at SI COMO NO. www.sicomono.com
This morning after breakfast, you will set off on the final leg of your journey, heading back to San Jose. Along the way you will stop in the town of Parrita to visit a local school. Afterwards continue with your drive towards San Jose where upon arrival, you will return to your hotel. Have the remainder of the day at your leisure until your farewell dinner in the evening.
Overnight at HOTEL BOUGAINVILLEA.
Time to return to the USA, as you will be transferred this morning to the airport for your return flights home. Sadly it is now time to say “adios” to hospitable Costa Rica.
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