Welcome to Costa Rica. You’ll be met on arrival at San Jose International Airport and transferred 30 minutes to your first accommodation. Home tonight is Xandari Resort & Spa, on a plantation overlooking the Central Valley.
A quick flight will give you a bird’s-eye view of Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. For the next three nights, you’ll stay at Tortuga Lodge, perched on a rainforest-covered sandbar. The beaches here are a significant nesting ground for green sea turtles who lay eggs from July to October. Hatchlings start appearing in late August through to November.
A guided bird walk is a great way to begin the day if you’re not opposed to an early start. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then hop in a boat for a trip through the national park’s waterways. Keep your eyes peeled for macaw, three-toed sloth, river otter and alligator. There are also three kinds of monkey here: capuchin, spider and congo. In the afternoon, why not hit the beach, or pull up a stool in the lodge bar where they mix a mean cocktail.
It’s quite the jungle journey today. First a boat trip to Guapiles. There, swap into a four-wheel-drive vehicle to venture deep into the Talamanca Mountains. After an hour or so, you’ll meet the Pacuare River, a symbol of life for the Cabecar people who live here. The 4x4 can’t go any further, so instead you’ll cross the river in a gondola strung from a cable above the river. On the other side, an electric vehicle is waiting to take you to Pacuare Lodge, an eco-retreat surrounded by rainforest. For the more adventurous tackle the rapids and white-water in a raft.
The day is yours to enjoy the rainforest. Pacuare Lodge has an extensive menu of tours and guests can fit in two per day. Fly by zip-wire over the canopy or try canyoning in El Tesorito Creek. Hike to a nearby village to experience indigenous Cabecar culture or follow an old mule trail high into the mountains to a secret waterfall. Or perhaps you’d rather kick back and enjoy the lodge’s spa and infinity pool – no one could blame you.
You’ll make a dramatic exit from Pacuare Lodge: white-water rafting. The three-and-a-half-hour trip takes in grade three to four rapids as the Pacuare River flows through canyons, past waterfalls and virgin rainforest. Lunch and dry clothes are waiting for you at the end, before a private vehicle transfer on to Arenal. The next stop in your Costa Rican adventure is Arenal Volcano National Park, 12,000 hectares of cloud forest, barren lava fields and a staggering array of wildlife.
Today take to the skies in a helicopter. Fly high above Tenorio Volcano National Park and the icy blue Rio Celeste waterfall. Admire the perfect symmetry of Arenal Volcano, and see the clouds swirling around the forests of Monteverde Reserve. Afterwards, a naturalist guide will lead you on foot over 16 hanging bridges through Mistico Park. In the tropical rainforest pass waterfalls and drink in a different view of Arenal Volcano.
The sweet, smiling face of Costa Rica is the sloth, an icon of the country’s spectacular rainforest. Arenal is home to both the two and three-toed sloth. On a private tour through the La Fortuna rainforest see if you can spot both species today. With a bit of luck, you may also encounter the multicoloured toucan and the blue jeans dart frog, as well as iguana and monkey.
Having seen Tenorio Volcano National Park from the air, now head there on land. The beautiful Rio Celeste snakes through the park, its heavenly blue colour created by two streams of crystalline water coming together. After arriving at Origins Luxury Lodge, you have the afternoon at leisure to explore this scenic spot perched on the mountainside.
Your lodge offers a range of ways to explore the national park. Go horse riding through the cloud forest or take a night hike to see elusive nocturnal wildlife. Try fishing in the lagoon or birdwatching with a specialist guide. Take a cooking lesson or stretch your weary muscles with a yoga class at the lodge.
Admire Llanos de Cortes Waterfall en route to Playa Hermosa this morning. There a boat will be waiting to take you to the Papagayo Gulf in the North Pacific region of Costa Rica. Blessed by golden sands, sunny weather and warm waters, 12 beaches backed by dry tropical forests line the gulf. This area is your home for the next four nights. What to do but swim, snorkel or simply relax on a sun lounger listening to the sounds of the Pacific Ocean crashing on the shore.
Sadly, it’s time to say adiós to Costa Rica. Transfer by private vehicle to nearby Liberia International Airport in time for your flight home.