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Day 1: Arrive San Jose

You will be met at the San Jose Airport upon arrival and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at the Park Inn, daily breakfast included - 2 nights.  Conveniently located near the National Museum, Jade Museum and Costa Rican Art Museum, Park Inn boasts an ideal location in San José. All rooms includes free wireless Internet access, a mini bar and a coffee maker. Hotel facilities include gym, business center, and outdoor swimming pool, RBG Bar and Grill.

 

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Day 2: Irazú Volcano National Park, the Orosi Valley and Lankaster Gardens

Today you will visit Irazú Volcano National Park, the Orosi Valley and Lankaster Gardens. Head southeast of San José, past Cartago and up the fertile mountain-side to the top of Irazú Volcano. Continue to the lovely Lankaster Gardens, where you will see acres of cultivated orchids, anthuriums, ferns and the birds they all attract - a truly spectacular tropical garden. Continue your journey through the beautiful Orosi Valley, where you will see: large coffee farms, the forest clad Talamanca Mountains, the Basilica of Ujarras (one of the oldest churches in Central America), the Cachi hydroelectric dam, and the ancient monastery of San José de Orosi, which was built in the 1700's and one of the few colonial churches still in use.

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Day 3: Braulio Carrillo National Park

You will be met at your San Jose hotel and transferred through Braulio Carrillo National Park to the docks in Guapiles, stopping for breakfast en route. From Guapiles board a boat for the trip up the Tortuguero Canals through 30 miles of tropical rainforest to your Tortuguero lodge - Laguna Lodge. Three buffet meals are included daily and served in the open-sided restaurant. Lodge facilities also include swimming pools with pool bars.

Included during your stay is a tour of Tortuguero National Park (with National Park entrnce fee) and a visit to Tortuguero Village. Optional tours (at additional cost) include: beach walks to witness sea turtle nesting and birthing. 

 

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Day 4: Tortuguero National Park

Today you will take a two to three-hour boat ride touring side canals of Tortuguero National Park with a local guide to observe the spectacular flora and fauna. Using a system of natural and man-made canals you will travel in a lowland tropical rainforest with arching palms and massive trees with giant buttresses. With its abundant wildlife Tortuguero is one of the best areas in Costa Rica for viewing wild animals. You will have the chance to see everything from a variety of bird species, howling, white-faced, and spider monkeys, sloths, crocodiles; iguanas, basilisk lizards and more from the comfort of your boat. In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a tour of the colorful village of Tortuguero. During July to September, green sea turtles come ashore at night to nest on the beach.

 

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Day 5: Poas Volcano National Park

This morning you will fly to San Jose. From the airport you will be transferred to Arenal. 

En route stop at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Here there are over 2 miles of walking and hiking trails, 5 waterfalls, cloud forest and rain forest, an aviary with 40 species of birds, a toucan feeding station, marmoset monkeys, an insect exhibit, serpentarium, orchid exhibits, butterfly observatory and butterfly gardens. The area is home to two-toed sloths, Capuchin (white-faced) monkeys, black-handed spider monkeys, 26 documented species of hummingbird, ocelots, jaguarundi, margays and even oceltos and pumas. Lunch is included.

You will also visit Poas Volcano National Park. The drive to the 9,000-foot peak of Poas Volcano is a scenic journey through coffee plantations, strawberry fields and lush dairy farms. You can look into the crater and see the hot steam vents and gray-green crater lake. In contrast to the constant activity in the main crater, a ½-mile trail through a gnarled dwarf forest will bring you to an overlook above the extinct crater of Lake Botos which is surrounded by dense forest along the circular crater rim. Entrance fee included.

Overnight at the Arenal Springs Resort, daily breakfast included. Hotel facilities include restaurant, sushi bar, Spa, 2 swimming pools and a Thermal river.

 

 

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Arenal Volcano National Park

Departing with your guide, you will hike through trails in the Arenal Volcano National Park.

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Day 7: Tarcoles River and Guacalillo Estuary, Carara National Park

Pick-up at your hotel for an shuttle transfer to Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. On the way, enjoy a guided boat tour of the Tarcoles River/Mangrove Adventure Tour. Board a comfortable boat for the ride along the Tarcoles River and Guacalillo Estuary. The Tarcoles River borders Carara National Park.  Along the banks of the river you will have the opportunity to see one of the largest colonies of crocodiles in Costa Rica and a chance to see over 250 species of birds such as scarlet macaws, tanagers, trogons, orioles, ospreys, cormorants, pelicans and roseate spoonbills.  After the tour continue with your drive to Manuel Antonio National Park. Lunch is included.

Overnight at the Costa Verde Hotel, located on a coastal rainforest bluff nestled between Manuel Antonio National Park and the Pacific Ocean.  The hotel is just three hundred yards from the beach, and about 500 ft in elevation overlooking world famous Manuel Antonio National Park. Daily breakfast included - 3 nights.

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Manuel Antonio National Park

You will be picked up at your hotel and transfer to Manuel Antonio National Park. This national park is one of the most famous in the country due to its wide variety of flora and fauna specimens. The park itself boasts 3 different trails that vary in grade from flat to very steep. On this Manuel Antonio tour you will be accompanied by a nature guide who is knowledgeable about everything you will see. The trail you will take is flat and picturesque and loops through the park making your course approximately 2 miles long. Throughout the hike your guide will stop and explain the different nature specimens that can be observed, you can take photographs or just admire the view. 

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Day 9: Manuel Antonio National Park

Day at leisure.  Optional activities include:  horseback riding, canopy zipline tour, coastal catamaran tour, mangrove estuary tour, Marino Ballena National Park day trip, surfing, fishing, paddleboarding, whitewater rafting, dolphin watching. sea kayaking. 

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Day 10: International Departure

You will be met at your hotel and transferred overland to San Jose.  Optional short flight from Quepos directly to the San Jose Int'l Airport. 

How many national parks are there in Costa Rica? 

To date there are 27 national parks.

How many national parks will I visit on this trip? 

You will visit or travel through 6.   On the Tarcoles River excursion you will be on the border with a 7th - Carara National Park.  

Can I visit more than 6 parks?

Of course. With enough time you can visit all of them.  On this itinerary you can add a 7th with a day trip to Marino Balleno National Park from Manuel Antonio. The Marino Ballena National Park is named after the Humpback whales that migrate here to mate or give birth to their calves. They are often seen between the months of July and October and again between December and April. 

Can I make changes to the itinerary?

Certainly.  This itinerary is only a suggestion.  We work with a wide selection of hotels and offer a menu of optional excursions in each city.  Your trip can be organized around your travel dates. The number of days and nights can be extended.  With additional days we can arrange trips to other national parks, such as Corcovado, Rincon de la Vieja, Cahuita, Palo Verde, Guanacaste, and more. 

When is the best time of the year to go?

The dry season is December-April.  During our summer - called the 'Green Season' in Costa Rica - there is more rain but the landscape is very lush. Summers are hot and humid, but less crowded.