Share this Post
Starting with an ecolodge stay deep in the protected rainforest, your journey will begin with the sweet and often unusual sounds of birds, frogs and animals. Here you explore the abundant plants and creatures that make Costa Rica so special.
From there you'll embark on a white water rafting trip, then on to a farm stay at teaching farm where you can learn about sustainable methods of growing and raising edible crops such as sugar cane and fish.
Finally, it's on to the magnificent seaside Manuel Antonio National Park where you will spend your last days exploring the natural splendor of the Pacific ocean and the beach's lush surroundings.
- All transportation as described in the itinerary
- All accommodations (based on double rooms - quad rooms may be available for slightly lower rate)
- English speaking guides
- All guided activities as described in the itinerary
- All meals as described in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- All entrance fees as described in the itinerary
Arrive in San Jose - Sarapiquí
Welcome to Costa Rica! You will be greeted by a Crooked Trails representative at the airport upon arrival at the Juan Santamaria airport in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Leaving behind the trappings of the city, you will be transferred to an ecolodge at an educational and biological research station hidden in the lush tropical rainforest in the Sarapiquí area. On the 2-hour drive to lodge, you will see the rolling hills of the low San Jose area transform and grow into mountain ranges dotted with volcanos, active and dormant.
This lodge is a working scientific station, offering comfortable but rustic quarters in a nearly untouched forest with over 35 miles of established trails. You will be introduced to the incredible biodiversity of the jungle and the levels of scientific research that is happening operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies.
Upon arriving at the lodge, you will be welcomed with a delicious local fruit drink and shown to your room. Take in the fragrant smells and sounds of the birds around you before you head to the gathering space for dinner. (If you arrive early in the morning, lunch will be included as well as an afternoon activity).
Sarapiquí discovery day
As the sun rises, the forest comes alive with the calls of tropical birds and noises of the animals. After breakfast this morning, you will enjoy a guided nature hike through the beautiful trails of this world-renowned private scientific reserve. Your guide will help you spot the creatures hiding amid the thick growth: the giant iguana whose green skin blends in with the leaves, or the eyelash viper, curled up like a bright yellow flower on the tree trunks.
Returning to the lodge for lunch, you will have the afternoon free to engage in one of the workshops created by scientists working at the station, or just to relax in a hammock. There are also opportunities to take a horseback ride through the jungle or visit the butterfly garden, which during the right season can be a magical fantasy of colors and movements.
As the day draws to a close and the light starts to fade, the forest animals who have been quiet during the day begin to rustle and awake. On a magnificent guided night walk, you will experience how, as darkness falls, the nocturnal creatures start to emerge and the world around you becomes alive and noisy. This area is home to nearly 70 species of bats, and if you are very lucky you might catch sight of an ocelot or jaguar, known to roam near the lodge.
White water rafting - Arenal farm stay
After breakfast, you'll pack up your gear and leave the lodge for your next adventure, some exciting class II-III whitewater rafting! The spectacular jungle canyon's high walls, fast waters, and lush vegetation make this an unforgettable experience.
After a fresh riverside, you will continue your journey to the Arenal Volcano area, arriving at Don Juan's farm where you will be staying . A former teacher and school principal, Don Juan has created an incredible sustainable garden and farm that he uses for teaching and demonstration as well as hosting families from all over the world. Get settled in your new home for the next couple of days.
Situated on the Don Juan's farm, you have your own separate building with porch that looks out over the sloping hillside. Keep your eyes peeled for two and four legged visitors from the nearby forest who might come visit you on your porch!
This afternoon you have the choice of free time or heading to a natural hot springs. There you can soak in the therapeutic waters and partake in a typical Costa Rican dinner at the restaurant located at the edge of the hot springs.
Sloth Sanctuary and Sustainable Farming
After a leisurely breakfast, visit a fascinating Sloth Sanctuary and learn about the life cycles and habits of these unusual furry creatures. Since this center is dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation, you might be able to observe captive sloths being reintroduced to the wild or being treated for injury. Wander through the protect area and see how many moss-colored creatures you can find hanging out in the crooks of the trees or casually crunching plant leaves.
Returning to Don Juan's farm, you will be joined by the eloquent Don Juan for an in-depth exploration of tropical organic farming. He will take you through the processes and traditions of this working farm, such as creating juice from sugar cane and harvesting coffee. Learn the different crops and plants that he grows, and even help pick some for your lunch!
Enjoy a lunch made from fresh vegetables grown in their garden, yucca chips from the field and tilapia from their ponds. If you like, you can culminate this experience with a cooking class lead by his wife Esmeralda, to truly have a farm-to-table experience, learning how each part of the garden goes into the meal.
You will have the afternoon free and will be on your own for dinner.
Chocolate making & mountains to ocean
After packing up your bags and saying goodbye to Don Juan and his family, you head out through the mountains and down towards the Pacific Coast. On the way, you will journey through Costa Rica's rich history and distinct flavors. You will have the opportunity to learn about the cocoa plant, the pre-colonial use of chocolate and the boom of contemporary and artisan production. See the process of making edible chocolate and participate in all the steps to make the chocolate you love, from the harvesting of the cocoa fruit, to the drying and grinding of the white seeds, to the sweet (or bitter) end by making your own chocolate bars to take with you (sampling encouraged!)
After lunch in a local restaurant, you will continue your journey through the mountains, arriving at Los Campesinos deep in the Central Pacific Coast mountains. Los Campesinos is a communal cooperative dedicated to sustainable rural tourism created over 16 years ago. Get settled in and walk around the incredible grounds on established nature paths before enjoying dinner at the ecolodge.
Manuel Antonio National Park
After breakfast at the lodge, you'll head to one of the most beautiful parks in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park. Your guide will lead you on a light hike through tall trees teeming with wildlife and along quiet paths through the bush. Emerging from the greenery, you will end up at the beach, where the Pacific Ocean laps at the soft sands of the coast.
Your afternoon will be spent relaxing on the beach and playing in the waves. We can arrange surfing lessons or a boat trip if you wish. Grab lunch from one of the many restaurants that line the beach. Return to your community ecolodge for dinner, or find a beach restaurant and take in the endless sunset.
Sugar Mill and Cooperative Community
In the morning, you will visit a small nearby sugar cane mill after breakfast at the ecolodge. Here you can experience the extraction of sugar cane juice and the pleasure of the fresh clean flavor, so different from what you might be expecting! You will learn about the traditional use and importance of sugar cane in Costa Rica's culture and economy. After your sugar tooth is satiated, you will continue to the central town to meet the community that supports the ecolodge.
In the town of Quebrada Arroyo, you'll have the opportunity to visit the home of one of the founding members of the cooperative. Sitting in the home of Don Victor, Don Miguel, or Don Misael, (depending on who is available), learn the history of the cooperative and how they gradually changed from a mostly agricultural community to balancing agriculture with successful rural tourism. You will have a chance to visit the church and the local school, as well as visit a viewpoint overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Savegre River Basin.
After lunch, you will start your journey back to the San Jose area, arriving at your family-operated hotel in the late afternoon. You will be on your own for dinner to sample any one of the many delicious restaurants nearby.
Breakfast is included at your hotel. A shared shuttle from your hotel will take you to the airport for your flight back home.
8D / 7N
Available year-round; fall and winter recommended
San Jose – Sarapiquí – Arenal - Manuel Antonio – San Jose
Customizable, Great for families
APPLY FOR THIS PROGRAM
Share this Trip