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National Geographic Expeditions - Costa Rica

A Journey through Costa Rica - with National Geographic

Highlights

  • Nature focused journey through Costa Rica accompanied by the jungle expert and nature photographer Dieter Schonlau

  • Engaging discussions with your guide about the country, its people, and photography

  • Discover the phenomenon of bioluminescence during a boat tour on Isla Jesusita

  • Numerous activities to choose from in the Corcovado National Park, such as a sustainability tour, hiking, and birdwatching

  • Stay at the award-winning Lapa Rios, one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World

Description

Soar away to the peaceful soul of Central America: Costa Rica. The green oasis is nestled between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean and filled with many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. It’s one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, therefore offering an unlimited number of adventures and experiences for everyone. During your National Geographic journey through Costa Rica, you will visit a coffee plantation, hike through the Corcovado and Irazu National Parks, and take a boat trip through glowing plankton.

Destination

Central America

San Jose - Turrialba - San Gerardo de Dota Puerto Jimenez - Corcovado - Isla Jesusita - Arenal Volcano

Travel date: August 2020

Expert: Dieter Schonlau, jungle expert and photographer

Welcome to Costa Rica: an emerald-green land where adventures are boundless, and nature prevails. “Pura Vida” means pure life, and you will feel it all around you the moment you step out of the plane.

At the airport, an English-speaking CANATUR representative will be waiting for you with a warm greeting! If any luggage or customs problems arise, they are here to help. They will also give you all of your travel documents and accompany you to your elegant city hotel!

Travel time San José Airport - hotel: approx. 30 minutes / 18 km


1 night at Gran Hotel Costa Rica****, San Jose, Costa Rica

In the early morning, wake up to a delicious breakfast before heading onto the road.

Driving under the morning sun, you will begin to notice the lush green landscapes come to life. Pass the quaint villages and verdant jungle roads until you reach the Irazu Volcano. This shimmering volcano is the highest in Costa Rica and is still active today! As you drive to the 3,432-meter summit, an otherworldly vista will suddenly appear. Views of the endless green and faraway coast will take your breath away.

The next stop is at Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, an important pilgrimage site for the Costa Ricans. It's home to Costa Rica’s patron saint, where her bones reside on a gold, jewel-studded platform at the main altar.

The adventure doesn’t stop there! Continue to Orosi, a small town in the province of Cartago. Take a stroll through its tropical streets and get to know the surroundings and history of this charming central valley. Visit one of the few remaining colonial churches and have some chats with the locals.

After a jam-packed day, head to your accommodation in Turrialba, where you can rest up and have a delicious dinner.

Travel time San Jose - Turrialba: approx. 2 hours / 60 km


1 night at Casa Turire****, Turrialba, Costa Rica

Wake up early for your hearty breakfast before heading out for another day full of adventure!

Are you a coffee lover and have always wondered where the aromatic beans come from? Today, you will get to learn all about it at the largest coffee farm in the country! Stretching 2,283 acres, the farm boasts panoramic views and friendly people that will answer all of your questions. Its picturesque location is nestled between rivers, waterfalls, and verdant trees - home to a variety of birds! During your tour, you will learn about the processes involved in coffee production, from cultivation to the finished product.

When you arrive, visit the farm’s small church before driving through the impressive coffee plantations. Notice the gigantic tropical trees that surround you, and see if you can find the beautiful kapok trees (aka wool trees). These trees are just a lovely addition to the fantastic views the coffee plantation and mountain village offers.

As you continue the tour, learn about the different flavors, textures, and colors of coffee. In the end, you can even try the coffee for yourself!

In the afternoon, we will continue the National Geographic journey to the San Gerardo de Dota region. Get ready for a fantastic destination known for its dense cloud forest and large bird population. It will be hard to miss the emerald green Quetzal birds because of their striking color and long, majestic feathers.

After arriving at your next hotel, you can hike along its trails and surround yourself with the silence of nature.

Travel time Turrialba - San Gerardo de Dota: approx. 2.5 hours / 110 km

1 night at Savegre Natural & Spa***, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica

Set your alarms for the early morning and stroll along the hotel’s nature trails before the sun rises. As the nocturnal wildlife head to bed and the other creatures wake up for breakfast, you may be able to catch a glimpse of a unique jungle dweller.

After a replenishing breakfast, set off for the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula! Witness the dramatic change between landscapes as you leave one destination and arrive at the next. The tropical vegetation varies between 3,400 meters in altitude and sea level! Keep your eyes peeled for bright red macaws on the trees, baby monkeys running toward their mothers, furry tarantulas atop a mossy rock, or even a casual sloth hanging from their favorite branch!

Once you arrive in Puerto Jiménez, you will have to hop into a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach tonight’s accommodation: Lapa Rios. This award-winning eco-lodge has a sustainability level 5 from the Costa Rican Environmental Institute. Entirely surrounded by the tropical rainforest, Lapa Rios has always been committed to environmental protection, preserving more than 1,000 acres of primary and secondary rainforest and assisting in the development of the local community.

Travel time San Gerardo de Dota - Corcovado: approx. 5 hours / 280 km

2 nights at Lapa Rios**** , Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Nature lovers, today, you will be spoiled for choice. How about a birdwatching tour? You can also visit the local sustainability projects or take a boat tour through the mangrove swamps.

Your day begins with an impeccable view where the Golfo Dulce meets the Pacific Ocean. Listen to numerous species come to life around you in the morning. Look for the local monkeys, red macaws, hummingbirds, toucans, or sloths! And later on, there will be a guided tour where you can learn more about the surrounding wildlife and experience it up close.

You can choose from the following tours for a maximum of 8 people (all included in the price):

  • Wild waterfalls (3-hour hike)

  • Medicinal plants (3-hour hike)

  • Mountain hike in the rainforest (3 - 3.5-hour hike)

  • Osa Peninsula hiking trail (3.5 - 4-hour hike)

  • Bird watching at sunrise OR sunset (2-hour hike each)

  • Matapalo tour (2-hour hike)

  • Night hike (1.5-2 hour hike)

  • Sustainability tour

In the evening, you can enjoy the sunset from a kayak or surfboard, or pamper yourself with massages and yoga classes.

Immediately after breakfast, you will make your way to the beautiful island of Jesusita! After a six-hour drive to the port of Puntarenas, you will cross over to Paquera by ferry. Once you arrive, another boat will take you to the quaint Jesusita Island. End your traveling day with a cocktail, a pristine coastline, and the setting sun. Your accommodation is the perfect combination of nature and getaway luxury, so you can kick back for the evening. You will even get a delicious dinner from the lodge!

Travel time Corcovado National Park - Isla Chiquita: 8 hours / 385 km

2 nights at Isla Chiquita Lodge***, Isla Jesusita, Costa Rica

Your morning starts with a tropical breakfast in a magical atmosphere. Now spend the day however you want to! Go kayaking around the glimmering island, practice stand-up paddle boarding near shore, take a stroll and watch the birds soar by, or relax in a hammock by the sea.

In the evening, we have a special tour planned just for you: bioluminescent water. Lucky for you, this natural phenomenon can be observed year-round! Produced by high concentrations of light-emitting plankton, bioluminescence imbues the waters with a blue-green effect. During this boat adventure, you will get to see the glowing sea with your own eyes! Your local tour guide will make sure this is a magical experience you will never forget.

After breakfast, hop onto a boat back to Paquera, a district in Puntarenas Canton. A thrilling holiday attraction awaits you here: Arenal Volcano, located in the eponymous national park. Even though the volcano is still active, there has been no movement since 2010, so you can safely explore its surroundings.

Afterward, drive to the Arenal Springs Resort, where you can end the day by relaxing in the natural hot springs. Dinner will also be served later in the evening.

Travel time Isla Jesusita - La Fortuna: 4.5 hours / 235 km

2 nights at Arenal Springs Resort*****, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Today’s adventure takes us to the famous Arenal Volcano!

After a short drive to the foot of the volcano, you will embark on a 1.5-hour hike. The national park overflows with different sights, sounds, and activities, promising an unforgettable adventure along the ash-covered paths. Trek over cooled lava flow and around rocky footpaths. Even though this volcano has been dormant since 2010, there are still incredible things to discover. These breathtaking views of the volcano and surrounding hills will leave an everlasting imprint on your memory.

In the evening, relax at the resort and truly relish your last hours in Costa Rica.

After you finish your last Costa Rican breakfast, you will make your way back to San José Airport. Say goodbye to the serene waters, tropical rainforests, the unique wildlife, and impressive volcanoes as you head home. Don’t forget to take back some of that “Pura Vida” energy Costa Rica is known and loved for.

Not ready to go home? Extend your vacation to the Caribbean or another Pacific coast destination!

itravel - for that moment!

Gran Hotel Costa Rica ****, San José, Costa Rica (1 night)

This historic building is not only a luxurious hotel but also an architectural monument. National museums, plazas, and other cultural and tourist attractions are in its direct vicinity.

Each room boasts a first-class, modern design, dominated with beige tones and clean-cut interiors. This hotel promises its guests all amenities and a feel-good atmosphere.

Casa Turire ****, Turrialba, Costa Rica (1 night)

Casa Turire is the ideal hotel for exploring Costa Rica's shimmering nature! Only 25 km from Guayabo, it proves to be the perfect location for adventure and sports activities, such as rafting, kayaking, and paragliding.

The hotel has 16 individually furnished rooms, all of which have a furnished balcony and a private bathroom with a rain shower. Enjoy a cup of coffee in the hotel bar and pamper yourself with a soothing massage in the Spa Turire.

Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa***, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica (1 night)

Escape to this romantic hotel hidden amongst the impressive cloud forest. Standard rooms have heating, whereas the cozy junior suites are extensive and include a fireplace. In the immediate vicinity is a rushing waterfall and Rio Savegre. The restaurant serves typical dishes and drinks.

Lapa Rios****, Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica (2 nights)

Boasting remarkable views from its Osa Peninsula location, the eco-lodge protects one of the last remaining tropical lowland rainforests in Central America. The immersive destination allows guests to relax in luxury while breathing in the fresh jungle air. The bungalows are located on three hills and are connected by footpaths and stairs through the jungle. Some of the rooms have a terrace or veranda, and most of the furniture is primarily made of wood. Lapa Rios creates an intimate and authentic experience filled with luxury, educational opportunities, and inspiration.

Isla Chiquita Lodge***, Isla Jesusita, Costa Rica (2 nights)

A Costa Rican glamping adventure awaits you on Isla Jesusita! Each tented suite includes a large bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities, internet, and a minibar available. You can even enjoy sparkling views of the Pacific Ocean from your private balcony. The beach is only a few meters away and can only be reached at low tide.

Arenal Springs Resort*****, La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2 nights)

Kick back and relax at the Arenal Springs Resort! It's only 20 minutes away from the Arenal Volcano, making it the perfect starting point for adventures! The bright rooms have a TV, private bathroom with shower, terrace, minibar, and a coffee machine. Local specialties, as well as Japanese and Italian delicacies, are served at the resort's restaurants. Wi-Fi is available free of charge in all public areas.

Closest airport: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport

Duration of the trip: 10 days / 9 nights

Date of the trip: August 2020

Including

  • 9 nights at the mentioned accommodations or similar:

    • 1 night at Gran Hotel Costa Rica**** in a standard room, San José

    • 1 night at Casa Turire**** in a standard room, Turrialba

    • 1 night at Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa*** in a Junior Suite, San Gerardo de Dota

    • 2 nights at Lapa Rios**** in a Deluxe Bungalow, Corcovado National Park

    • 2 nights at Isla Chiquita Lodge*** in a Tent Suite, Isla Jesusita

    • 2 nights at Arenal Springs Resort***** in a Junior Suite, La Fortuna

  • Meals according to the program

  • Guide and expert

  • Transfers and transports in an air-conditioned bus with a Spanish-speaking driver

Activities included

  • Irazu:

    • National park entrance
  • San Gerardo de Dota:

    • Coffee tour and tasting on a coffee plantation
  • Corcovado National Park:

    • Activities to choose from:

      • Wild waterfalls (3-hour hike)

      • Medicinal plants (3-hour hike)

      • Mountain hike in the rainforest (3 - 3.5-hour hike)

      • Osa Peninsula hiking trail (3.5 - 4-hour hike)

      • Bird watching at sunrise OR sunset (2-hour hike each)

      • Matapalo tour (2-hour hike)

      • Night hike (1.5-2 hour hike)

      • Sustainability tour

  • Isla Jesusita:

    • Bioluminescent boat tour

Excluding

  • International flights

  • Meals and drinks that are not included in the scope of services

  • Optional excursions (visits, admissions, etc.)

  • Paquera ferry 2,-USD

  • Tips and personal expenses

  • Insurance

Services & Notes

Single room surcharge: 990,-EUR

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