Lakes to cross, birds, wildlife and of course volcanoes: this program explores a variety of distinct ecosystems ranging from the dry tropical regions of Rincon de la Vieja National Park, the cloudforests of Monteverde, the tropical humid area of Arenal Volcano National Park, and the watery world of Palo Verde National Park.
Day 1: Liberia to Rincon del Vieja. Today you’ll be met at the airport by our representative and made welcome to Costa Rica. You will then be transferred to the Hacienda Guachipelin mountain ecolodge. The hacienda borders the popular Rincon de la Vieja National Park. The hotel is surrounded by lush gardens with native trees, exotic flowers and many types of birds, and it has views to both the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano and the Pacific Ocean.
Day 2 : You will have a guided tour into Rincon de la Vieja National Park with a naturalist guide. Rincon de la Vieja with Natural hot springs, virgin forests, jungle waterfalls and volcanic mud pots is considered by many to be the most diverse ecozone in Costa Rica being at the transition between the drier Guanacaste plains and the lush Atlantic rainforests.(B)
Day 3: Day Tour. Palo Verde National Park is one of the richest sites for birding on this continent. Besides the abundant birds, Palo Verde is a showcase of native wetland vegetation and is also home to many exotic animals, such as 3 kinds of monkeys, sloths, caimans, lizards and bats.
Situated at the mouth of the Tempisque River and acting as a watershed for all major area rivers, Palo Verde National Park is a slice of wetland sanctuary in the middle of Costa Rica’s driest province. The 45,500-acre park is a mosaic of 15 different habitats, including mangrove swamps, grassy savannahs, marshes, salt ponds, pastures and evergreen forest, all bordered by sloping limestone hills. It is considered a migratory and resident waterfowl refuge, and its lands are therefore protected by law.
Palo Verde’s myriad of ecological niches makes it an ideal host for plant and animal life. More than 300 bird species have been seen in the park, and it contains the greatest concentration of shorebirds and waterfowl in Central America. Up to 250,000 birds reside here at once, with the most common being egrets, herons, storks, spoonbills, ibis, grebes and ducks. Forest birds like parrots and toucans can also be seen in the trees. Palo Verde hosts the only native colony of scarlet macaws in the dry Pacific . Return to Lodge for the night.(B)
Day 4: Today, you will transfer to the Monteverde and the Cloudforest. This cool, misty location is a beautiful environment for many birds, not seen in the lower elevations. After your transfer here you will have the balance of the day free. There are several small attractions like the butterfly farm and the nocturnal animals exhibit you can visit (all optional)
Day 5: This morning you will meet a local guide who will take you on a guided walk into the cloud forest reserve to spot birds. He or she will also provide a good explanation of this special ecosystem and the protections in place to preserve it. After this you will the small interpretive centre at the park’s entrance. (B)
Day 6: This morning you will explore the Selevatura park with its suspended walkways. Then later today you will travel by van and by boat to cross Lake Arenal (formed by a hydroelectric dam) to you hotel near the town of La Fortuna, near Arenal National Park. (B)
Day 7: Arenal: Today visit the Arenal Hanging Bridges. The Hanging Bridges are a complex of 6 hanging suspension bridges rising above the jungle canopy, with about 3km of trails through the lush Rain Forest. The bridges provide an excellent vantage point to observe the flora and fauna from the ground level to the top of the trees. The chain link fence on either side of each bridge is about 50″ high, so there is little chance of anyone slipping through. Walking the trails you will see many varieties of heliconias, flowering ginger, hear howler monkeys, and see many varieties of butterflies, as you learn about the complexity and beauty of the Rain Forest. This afternoon you will take a guided walk on the dry lava beds of Arenal volcano. The evening is topped off by a soothing visit to the 4 pools at Ecotermales hotsprings and a dinner. Ecotermales Hot Springs is a sanctuary of nature and beauty that has been the life work of the local Hidalgo family. The smallest of the Arenal Hot Springs, Ecotermales is geared toward privacy and relaxation. This intimate and exclusive resort limits daily visitors to 100 and is by reservation only. (B,D)
Day 8: This morning you will be taken to the airport for the flight out to Canada, or to your resort hotel by our transfer service. (B)
Daily Year Round Includes 7 nights accommodation, all transfers, meals as noted (BLD = breakfast, lunch, dinner), all local taxes, tours as noted. Can be modified to suit your time and interests.