Tour includes: all lodging at comfortable and distinctive tourist level hotels and lodges
and meals (pre-arranged) starting with dinner on day one and ending with breakfast on day 9 (excluding 1 dinner on Day 7); transportation with a private driver in a modern and spacious air-conditioned vehicle with clear glass windows ideal for wildlife viewing, Airport transfers for families arriving on the scheduled arrival day and departing on the scheduled departure day; full time private bi-lingual professional guide specializing in birds and natural history; entrance fees to the parks and reserves specified in the itinerary; all tours specified in the itinerary (except on Day 7); 3 chilled bottles of water per day per guest; and taxes (airport taxes and tips to local staff, guide and driver, not included, alcoholic beverages not included. Wine, beer or sodas included only for the farewell dinner). Price based on double/triple occupancy. Maximum 2 adults and 2 children per room. Meals are pre-arranged.
Day 1: Arrive in San Jose where you will be warmly welcomed by your guide and chauffer and escorted back to your hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing by the poolside or taking a walk in the lovely gardens to recuperate from your long day of travel. The gardens are home to many spectacular tropical birds, like the Blue-crowned motmot, Hoffman’s Woodpecker, Ferruginous Pygmy owl and Roufous-tailed Hummingbird. You will be impressed by the extensive orquid and bromeliad gardens here as well. Anyone interested in geology? This hotel has an amazing rock and mineral collection with nearly every piece found right here in Costa Rica. If you feel like getting some exercise, there are lighted tennis courts available to you at the hotel. In the evening you can venture out to look for frogs at the frog pond. Overnight: Hotel Bougainvillea
Day 2: Poas Volcano is one of the active volcanoes in Costa Rica’s Central Mountain Range. The volcano is accessible by paved road almost all the way to the principal crater, which is purported to be the widest in the world. Walk the last half mile to the crater's edge and then have a close-up look at what the awesome power of a volcano can do. Later, hike the scenic trails at La Paz waterfall gardens. Having one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world, a variety of jeweled hummingbirds, tropical gardens, and a numerous of waterfalls,
there is something here to enchant everyone in your family. Arrive this afternoon at the Sarapiqui region and settle in to your comfortable lodge.
This lowland rain forest region at the base of the Caribbean slope is well-known for hosting the greatest diversity of tropical flora and fauna in the country. This is the most likely spot on the trip to see the Great Green Macaw, an endangered species that depends on the Dipteryx tree for feeding and nesting. This is one of the emergent trees commonly found in Sarapiqui. Also lurking in the forest are two- and three-toed sloths, 3 different species of monkeys, and peccaries. We will also go out in search of the tiny poison-dart frogs. Their bright colors will astound you.
Overnight: Hotel Hacienda Sueño Azul (B,L,D)
Day 3: AM: We will spend the morning at La Selva Biological Station run by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), clearly a highlight of the trip. The station is among the four most famous tropical research facilities in the world. There is no better place to experience the Rainforest with its outstanding abundance of wildlife. The station is home to more than 420 bird species, more than 500 species of butterflies, 55 species of snakes, and 120 species of mammals. A vast variety of different species of trees can be seen in the arboretum. We will have the unique opportunity to accompany one of the many researchers out into the field for a hands-on experience of what it is like to be a tropical field scientist. You will also be able to visit the laboratories here (not normally open to the public) where much of the world’s discoveries about Tropical Rainforests take place. Some of the possible experiences could include mist-netting and bird banding, climbing the 35m research canopy tower to experience the different levels of the rainforest, collecting stream samples, surveying the tree species within a transection of the rainforest, etc.
Animals here are not camera shy, so there will be ample photo opportunities. Peccaries (wild pigs), agoutis, coatis, sloths, and monkeys frequent the area, all of which makes for an unforgettable experience.
PM: Who wants to get splashed? Head to the scenic (and warm!) Sarapiqui River for an exciting family white water rafting trip (ages 8 and up). For those who are less adventurous, you can substitute this with a relaxing and slower-paced float trip.
Overnight: Hotel Hacienda Sueno Azul (B,L,D)
Day 4: In the morning after breakfast, hike across a suspension bridge and into the rainforest to a former cacao growing plot. Along the way learn about the fascinating history of chocolate. Once you arrive at La Tirimbina, learn about the growing and processing of the cacao beans, and try some chocolate, too!
Mid-morning departure for the amazing jungle-covered Arenal Volcano. En route to the hotel, we will stop in the quaint town of La Fortuna for lunch and a leisurely walk around the park and shops. Then, continue to Arenal Observatory Lodge. This lodge was originally built in 1987 as a Smithsonian Institute scientific research station, and this afternoon one of the scientists from the OVSICORI (Obvservatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica) gives a pre-dinner talk on volcanology. Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 5: You can sleep in this morning if you are so inclined, or opt for a morning forest hike on some of the many trails that crisscross the area around the Arenal Volcano. After lunch you will enjoy the Sky Adventures tour: either the Aerial Tram and zip line or Aerial Tram and hanging bridges walk, depending on how adventurous you are! A highlight of today is sure to be your visit to the Ecotermales hot springs. The thermal springs are heated by the Arenal volcano and offer a fun and relaxed atmosphere among green gardens and steamy cascades. Enjoy a family-style dinner here before returning to the hotel for a good night’s sleep! Overnight: Arenal Observatory Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 6: Today we will travel around the scenic Arenal Lake to the unique tropical dry forest region of Guanacaste. We will have lunch in the historical town of Liberia in the heart of Guanacaste, once known as the “Ciudad Blanca” (white city). You will notice that you enter a new region not only in its natural habitat but also in its cultural identity.
Then we will travel a short distance to the beautiful beachfront boutique hotel Bosque del mar. You have the remainder of the afternoon to enjoy the beach and the calm azure-blue ocean waters here. Take in a breath-taking sunset on the expansive Playa Hermosa sands and enjoy a wonderful dinner in the open air restaurant with its seaside ambience. Overnight: Bosque del Mar (B, L, D)
Day 7: Time at the beautiful North Pacific coast of Costa Rica wouldn’t be complete without a day to do as you wish on your family vacation. Relax at the hotel, or perhaps opt to head to Tamarindo Beach for surf lessons and shopping. Another option is a full day of adventure, which includes horseback riding, whitewater river tubing, and a zip line canyoning tour. (Optional tours at guests’ own expense.) Dinner is on your own tonight. Overnight: Bosque del Mar (B,L)
Day 8: Visit a local Costa Rican school, where the group takes part in a half day service project. (The exact nature of the project will depend on the number of participants and the needs of the school and community at the time of your visit.) Children with pen pals in Costa Rica will have the opportunity to meet them today!Enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide and fellow travelers tonight, and share your favorite memories. Overnight: Bosque del Mar (B,L,D)
Day 9: You and your family will be transferred to Liberia airport for your departing flight. (B)
Optional pre-breakfast birding and Owling excursions will be available weather & schedule permitting.