Horley, West Sussex, RH6 0NP, London
In the past Travel Together has tried to be as diverse as possible. From the history and art of Italy to the historic religion of the Mayans in Mexico, from the hectic but spiritual chaos that is India to the political history and crumbling buildings in Cuba and from the steeped in culture cities of Europe to the jaw dropping for every reason Vietnam.
Through all that diversity we've never been to a country purely for it's scenery, nature and wildlife............. until now, because it's time to explore COSTA RICA.
If you had to sum up Costa Rica, it'd really be quite difficult, I suppose you could call it paradise. Although the following sums up exactly why Lonely Planet love it so much...
'As the eco- and adventure-tourism capital of Central America, Costa Rica has a worthy place in the cubicle daydreams of travellers around the world. With world-class infrastructure, visionary sustainability initiatives and no standing army since 1948 (when the country redirected its defence funds toward education, healthcare and the environment), Costa Rica is a peaceful green jewel of the region. Taking into account that more than a fourth of the land enjoys some form of environmental protection and there’s greater biodiversity here than in the USA and Europe combined, it’s a place that earns the superlatives. Such wildlife abounds in Costa Rica as to seem almost cartoonish: keel-billed toucans ogle you from treetops and scarlet macaws raucously announce their flight paths. A keen eye will discern a sloth on a branch or the eyes and snout of a caiman breaking the surface of a mangrove swamp, while alert ears will catch rustling leaves signalling a troop of white-faced capuchins or the haunting call of a howler monkey. Blue morpho butterflies flit amid orchid-festooned trees, while colourful tropical fish, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales thrive offshore – all as if in a conservationist’s dream'.
In keeping with sustainable and responsible tourism, I've chosen a tour operator that works with local communities. In fact many Costa Ricans themselves have come together to build, create and provide organic experiences and accommodation that are now enjoyed by adventurous travellers from all over the world. It's these very experiences, along with the abundance of wildlife, together with a sprinkle of help from Mother nature in the way of active volcanoes and crystal clear pristine beaches, that will make your time here truly unforgettable.
(B=Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner)
Day 1 – 19th April - Arrival into Costa Rica
Arrive at the international airport of San José, where you will be met by one of our representatives and taken to your hotel. We may have time to do a walking tour around the centre of town.
Accommodation in: Don Carlos http://www.doncarloshotel.com/
Day 2 – 20th April - Poás Volcano, San Jose and a Very Special Welcome (B,D)
You will meet your guide today, who will be with you throughout your trip. Your first real experience of Costa Rica will be spent visiting the nearby active volcano of Poás and then taking a tour of the capital City San Jose. Poás volcano is a powerful symbol of the geothermal forces that formed Costa Rica. When the mist and clouds part you’ll see the sulphuric, bubbling, green rain fed lake at the bottom, surrounded by smoke and steam rising from fumaroles. Water from the lake is constantly seeping through cracks in the hot rock, evaporating and building pockets of steam.
When the pressure in these pockets exceeds the weight of the water above, the steam breaks through in geysers that rocket up to 820 feet (250 meters) high. Don’t worry about getting a shower though, the crater is 1,050 feet (320 meters) deep. At almost a mile (1.6 km) across it’s also the largest active crater in the world. You can spend time exploring the trails of this beautiful National Park before heading back to explore San Jose.
In the evening you will be taken for a very special welcome to Costa Rica. In San Antonio de Escazu you will be met by a local guide form the Encanto de la Piedra Blanca tourism project. El Encanto tourism project was set up in 1996, as part of the various initiatives of the Conservation and Development Association of the Mountains of Escazú, CODECE. Due to the natural beauty of the mountains, many people have been building homes here, posing a serious threat to the natural ecosystems. As a way to fight back, in 1985 the community of San Antonio organized themselves to defend the natural beauty of the Escazú Mountains. Since then, the community has continued defending their right to fresh air, clean water, and to better their standard of living. The Encanto de la Piedra Blanca emerges as a tourism project with the aim of preserving and sharing the rich cultural heritage that San Antonio de Escazu offers. At the same time, it develops new sources of income for the surrounding community.
You will be met at the Church of San Antonio de Escazú and taken to the Barrio El Carmen. Once there, you will enjoy the panoramic view of San José whilst drinking a delicious glass of homemade eggnog or wine, as a member of CODECE gives a talk about their organization. You will enjoy a great variety of typical dinner, prepared by cooks from San Antonio de Escazú who partner in the project. In the outside area, a local marimba player will entertain you with a stream of cheerful music. Undoubtedly there is no better way to introduce yourself into this amazing trip.
Day 3 – 21st April - Cerro Escondido Walking & Wildlife experience! (B,L,D)
After breakfast your guide will drive you north until you meet the Tempisque River from where you will head on into the Nicoya Peninsula. Your destination is the Karen Morguensen Conservation Area on the Nicoya Peninsula, which is an impressive 900 ha reserve with an immense variety of flora and fauna. Discover the primary and secondary forest, the natural springs with crystal-clear water and the impressive, 80 m high waterfall Velo de Novia where you may enjoy a refreshing swim in the natural pools.
You will spend two nights at the small, cosy Cerro Escondido Inn in the middle of the beautiful forest of the natural reserve, which is managed by a local farming family. The Posada is located far away from civilization in a wonderful scenic area. The owners, who keep to old traditions, take good care of their visitors.
Today after your arrival into San Ramón de Río Blanco via Paquera, you will enjoy a delicious lunch at Rancho Guayacán. Then hike to Cerro Escondido Rural Lodge (approx. 1:30 hr) where Doña Mary and Don Arnulfo will be welcoming you. In the evening you will have the opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts of the local organisation ASEPALECO. Dinner and accommodation at Cerro Escondido Lodge.
Overnight at Cerro Escondido Rural Lodge, Standard room http://www.asepaleco.com/html_es/lodging_es.html
What a view.....
Day 4 – 22nd April - Exploring the Reserve (B,L,D)
Today is split into two. In the morning you will hike into the forest with a local guide to see some of the magnificent bird species that call the reserve home.
After lunch you will head off into the middle of the forest to relax and enjoy a delicious soak at Velo de la Novia Waterfall!
Day 5 – 23rd April - The Mighty Arenal Volcano (B)
Today you will be driven to the majestic Arenal volcano.
Lying in the northern highlands of Costa Rica, many people think of the spectacular Arenal as just a volcano, however the National Park offers a variety of beautiful trails through the rainforest and the chance to up close to the local flora and fauna. The park is also a great place for thrill-seekers with a famous canopy walkway, zip line and some truly beautiful white water rafting.
The lodge we are suggesting for the group is a very comfortable eco-lodge, perfectly positioned directly between the massive Arenal Volcano and deep blue Lake Arenal. No other hotel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica and the Arenal area is so close to the famous volcano and its lovely lake. Perfectly situated outside of La Fortuba, Eco Arenal offers the perfect base for exploring the Arenal Area in the day and La fortuna in the evening. With a lovely swimming pool and comfortable rooms, Eco Arenal is a great choice for groups.
Accommodation in: The Eco Arenal http://ecoarenal.com/
Day 6 – 24th April - Arenal National Park Hike and Hotsprings (B,D)
You will have the morning free to enjoy the surroundings of the Arenal Observatory Lodge, before being taken for your guided hike of Arenal National Park. This tour will give you a wonderful insight into the National Park and all of its natural splendour.
After the hike you will then head to the beautiful Ecotermales Hotsprings: http://ecotermalesfortuna.cr with its hot springs, mineral pools and waterfalls for you to soak in after a day spent exploring. You will also have dinner at the hotsprings before returning to your hotel.
Accommodation in: The Eco Arenal http://ecoarenal.com/
Day 7 – 25th April - Los Campesinos Reserve and Lodge (B,L,D)
Today is the start of another very special and unique wildlife and cultural experience. Your guide will drive you south to the Los Campesinos reserve and lodge for your 2 night stay.
The people of the Quebrada Arroyo community are the guardians of Los Campesinos Reserve, located in the basin of the Savegre River. The reserve consists of primary and secondary forest that is in the pro-cess of regeneration and is protected by the Association of Vanilla Producers (ASOPROVA). The Quebra-da Arroyo community felt that not only was the reserve not fulfilling its potential for tourism, they also never saw any benefit from the little tourism the reserve did bring in. With the support of the Small Do-nations Program (PNUD), the Association built and maintained small shelters for walkers and trails and facilities for ecological tourism.
Upon arrival you will be served a tasty typical lunch, prepared on a wood stove. After you have settled in you will take a short walk across a 40m high, 127m long suspended bridge next to the impressive Los Chorros waterfall to swim in the transparent natural pools. Then in the evening, share stories with the locals while enjoying a homemade dinner.
Day 8 – 26th April - Hiking Trails (B,L,D)
At 5:30 a.m., before breakfast, your local guide will take you for a walk on the Mirador El Pacifico Trail (approx 2.5 hours), sharing stories of his adventures in the forest and explaining the uses of native plants. Part of your journey will involve crossing a forested gorge by aerial tram, from where you can look out over the Rio Savegre Valley and the Pacific Coast. A hot drink will be served as you sit at this stunning view point. Enjoy a Typical breakfast and the rest of the day is yours to explore the community and reserve at your own pace
Accommodation in: Los Campesinos Rural Lodge
Day 9 – 27th April - Manuel Antonio and the Pacific Coast (B)
Today you will take the short drive to the stunning coastline of Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio National Park epitomises the popular view of Central America’s remote Pacific coast. Lush green forest creeping up to the beautiful white sands and warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. For this reason Manuel Antonio is one of Costa Rica’s most popular and scenic national parks, offering a well-marked trail system and prolific wildlife such as toucans and several species of monkeys.
Within the National Park the beaches of Espadilla Sur and Manuel Antonio offer very good snorkeling when the water is clear, which is best during the dry season (Dec – May). At 236 feet (72 m) high, Cathedral Point lies between Playa Espadilla Sur and Playa Manuel Antonio. It is connected to the mainland by a narrow land bridge and if you are up for the hike, provides a memorable view. Playa Manuel Antonio offers a glimpse into the past with pre-Columbian turtle traps made of stone. Surfing, swimming or just relaxing under the sun are favourite activities for park goers.
You will have the afternoon to relax
Accommodation in: Plaza Yara http://www.hotelplazayara.com/
Day 10 & 11 – 28th & 29th April - Wildlife and Beach time (B)
These days are free for you to relax and enjoy the area. Your guide will take you on a guided hike of Manuel Antonio National park in the morning of the 11th and after that you can choose to spend the days looking for wildlife or relaxing on the national park beaches.
Accommodation in: Plaza Yara Hotel
Day 12 – 30th April - The Savegre Cloud Forest (B)
In the morning your guide will take you to a very special cloud forest reserve, the Savegre Cloud Forest. This area is made up of the Savegre Valley and the Los Santos Forest Reserve which is commonly referred to as the Savegre Cloudforest. It provides a great alternative to the far more visited Monteverde cloud forest further north. Savegre area was declared a Forest Reserve in November 1975 and covers some 62,000 hectares. Three different forest zones blend together in this area: premontane rain forest, low mountain rain forest and mountain rain forest. Elevation ranges from 2000m to 3000m above sea level in Cerro de la Muerte. At this high elevation, temperature ranges between 0 and 17 degrees Celsius, with an annual rainfall of between[masked] mm per year.
The fauna is also diverse and more than 175 different species of birds have been identified. It is famously home to the Resplendent Quetzal, who lives here year round, as well as other species such as Trogons, Hummingbirds, Great Tinamou, sooty robin and woodpeckers, among others. You might also be lucky enough to spot bigger animals including as felines, tapirs, brockets and coyotes.
Accommodation in: Sueno Del Bosque http://www.bosquesangerardo.com/en/
Day 13 – 1st May - In search of the Resplendent Quetzal (B)
Wake up early and go on the Quetzal watching tour (shared with other guests) that lasts around three hours. Go in search of the resplendent Quetzal with its iridescent green feathers, its long, graceful tail and bright red breast! In the afternoon, go on a 2 hour-waterfall tour: walk on your own along the trails into the cloud forest and waterfall.
Accommodation in the Sueno Del Bosque
Day 14 – 2nd May - Return to San Jose (B)
Today you will be picked up by your private transfer and driven back to San Jose where you will have the afternoon free to explore the city.
Accommodation in: Don Carlos
Day 15 – 3rd May - Adios Costa Rica (B)
Time for you to say goodbye to Costa Rica as you are transferred to the airport in time for your return fight home
So what is Costa Rica.......... THIS is Costa Rica.....
The total cost this stunning Costa Rican experience is £2,600 based on sharing a twin room.
*** It was important to get the right accommodation on this trip. Local authentic family or community based run guest houses and lodges. Due to this and only in 2 of the locations, the rooms have 1 x double bed and a set of bunks. There will still only ever be two people sharing a room, but priority for the double beds will be given to those first ones to sign up. As I said this is only in 2 of the locations, all others will have twin rooms, but it was either this or change the whole itinerary to pick bigger towns with bigger hotels but it just wouldn't have been the same experience***
N.B You MUST also provide your contact number and email address when you RSVP. I need this information to obtain passport details etc. Anyone not answering these questions will have their deposits returned and rsvp changed.
You will need to pay a NON REFUNDABLE deposit of just £200 to secure your place on the trip.
The 2nd payment of £800 will be due NO LATER than Friday 30th September 2016
The 3rd payment of £800 will be due NO LATER than Wednesday 30th November 2016
The final balance of £800 will be due by NO LATER than Tuesday 31st January 2017
All payments are your responsibility and must be paid into the following bank account before the dates given above. Please make a note of these dates as you will not receive reminders and your space will not be guaranteed if payments are late.
What IS included:
• Return International flights with British Airways
• 23kg Luggage allowance
• Accommodation as mentioned in the programme
• Meals: 14 breakfasts, 5 Lunches and 5 Dinners
• Tours and services as mentioned
• Private bilingual guide as mentioned
• Local English-speaking guide
• Entrance fees
What's NOT included:
• Meals, services and activities not mentioned on the programme
• Personal expenses
• Alcoholic drinks
• Travel insurance. You are responsible for your OWN travel insurance.
Outbound - 19th April 2017
Depart Gatwick South terminal at 11.45. Arrive in San José M terminal at 16.00 Flight BA2237
Inbound - 3rd May 2017
Depart San José M terminal at 17.30. Arrive in Gatwick South terminal at 11.00 + 1 Flight BA2236
It is advisable to contact your local GP to enquire as to any vaccinations you may need.
Also, please read the itinerary carefully and fully before you RSVP and make sure that you are fit and healthy enough, as there will be some walking involved, both in the jungle and on guided city walks. As long as you are of you are of a moderate health and relatively healthy you will have no problems at all.
I have only ever seen images of this incredibly colourful and vibrant country before on the television, I’d have never have dreamed that I’d be taking the group there one day and exploring it for the first time with some of you too, that’s what really makes it so exciting for me. Who’s coming to Costa Rica?
Andy & the team
Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.