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Certificate of Excellence

MONTEVERDE, ARENAL, TORTUGUERO Quest for Pura Vida 9 Day / 8 Night $2,748 Per Person Since colonial times Costa Rica has been most ethnically
diverse country in Latin America. People whose ancestors
were born in Europe, West Africa, China, Lebanon, and North America
continue to live in harmony in Costa Rica.

Many experts believe that this diversity is the key to how Costa Rica has
avoided the problems that have plagued its neighbors.

Throughout the itinerary you will have ample opportunities to connect with
ordinary Costa Ricans. We can’t tell you about specific activities with local
people because they are spontaneous and different for every group.

You will visit Nectandra Cloud forest Garden, Monteverde Cloud Forest
Reserve, a walk on a canopy walkway with views of the Arenal
Volcano, remote Tortuguero National Park with boat trips
through the rain forest and Doka’s Estate Coffee Tour


Letter Codes:

(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner

(NG) Naturalist Guide; (TG) Transfer Guide; (LG) Local Guide

DAY 1: Arrival San José, Costa Rica (No meals) (TG)

Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport. After passing through Immigration you will see a Costa Rica Expeditions representative who will greet you and give you a sticker to facilitate clearing customs. Also, when you are exiting the building, you’ll see a Costa Rica Expeditions guide, who will take you to your hotel.

You’ll recognize your guide by their bright orange or yellow shirt. Also, he’ll be holding a sign with your name on it. You can count on their being there — even if your flight arrives early, or arrives quite late — no matter how late. After all, it’s our first chance to have you experience that every part of your vacation will go smoothly. He or she will take you to your hotel.

Overnight at: Hotel El Presidente.  Standard (or similar)

DAY 2: San José / Nectandra Gardens / Monteverde (BLD) (NG)

After a welcome orientation breakfast; with your guide, drive 1 ½ hours to Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden.

In 1997 during a vacation focusing on natural history with Costa Rica Expeditions Evelyn and David Lynette decided to devote the rest of their live to creating and caring for a Nature Reserve in Costa Rica. The result was Nectandra, 130 hectares (295 acres) of primary and secondary forest, dedicated to conservation, research and community outreach. At the center of Nectandra is the 2 hectare (5 acre) Nectandra Cloud Forest Botanical Garden. This morning hiking the gardens beautifully designed is the ideal introduction to the flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

After Lunch at the Gardens 3 – 3 ½ hour drive to the Monteverde area. The first 1 ½ hour are on the Pan-American Highway and the last 2 hours on a winding gravel road. Arrive at your Monteverde Hotel.

Overnight at: Monteverde Lodge and Gardens. Forest View Downstairs Room.

DAY 3: Monteverde (BLD) (NG) 

Guided walk to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

In Monteverde farmers, biologists and tourism professionals who have joined together to create a model for sustainable development and protection of the environment that is becoming known throughout the world. Founded in 1954 by a group of Quakers searching for a peaceful place to live, Monteverde’s tradition of conservation started with 554 hectares (1,385 acres.) of tropical cloud forest that the Quakers set aside for watershed protection. Today the Monteverde family of reserves protects 28,964 hectares (72,410 acres) of forest. Among the best known are the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest, and the Santa Elena Reserve.

After breakfast, guided excursion to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Your 3.5 kilometer (2.2 miles) hike will take your through countless distinct habitats each with its unique flora and fauna. From January to July, depending upon your luck and patience, you may observe the Resplendent Quetzal (occasionally a dozen or more individuals at once). Other species include the Three-wattled Bellbird, the Emerald Toucanet, and White-faced and Howler Monkeys.

Afternoon Caburé Chocolate Tour

For an hour you will be immersed in Chocolate. From the tree to the truffle you’ll touch it and taste it as you participate in the process that turns a bitter seed in a pod into what may well be the world’s most popular flavor. Along the way you’ll learn how chocolate evolved from bitter drink prized by the indigenous peoples of the America’s almost 2000 years before Christ to a sweet delicacy that swept Europe and the rest of the world.

This tour was exquisitely designed by Bob Carlson, a Bostonian who came to Costa Rica in 1978 as a Peace Corps volunteer for the national parks service and never left. On most tours you’ll get to meet Bob and as well as learning about chocolate, hear about how Costa Rica has evolved from the point of view of an ex-pat who has lived in the country for almost 40 years.

Overnight at: Monteverde Lodge and Gardens. Forest View Standard Room.

DAY 4: Monteverde / Arenal (BLD) (NG)

Morning departure on a land and boat transfer to Arenal. Depart Monteverde in a 4 wheel drive vehicle for the 2 hour ground transfer to Rio Chiquito, a small town on the shore of Lake Arenal. Board a boat for the transfer across the lake (approximately 30-40 minutes depending on wind conditions). The boat will dock near the Arenal Dam where your transportation will be waiting to continue with the activities of your day. Total transfer time from Monteverde to the Arenal area via Lake Arenal is approximately 3 hours.

 Overnight at: Arenal Manoa.   Junior Suite.  (or similar)

DAY 5: Arenal (BLD) (NG)

Guided walk to the Arenal Hanging Bridges

After breakfast, depart for a morning hike to the Arenal Hanging Bridges. This project consists of eight fixed bridges, ranging in length between 8 and 22 meters, and six hanging bridges, built with the latest techniques and designed with an eye for both beauty and safety. The hanging bridges are between 48 and 98 meters long. All the bridges are made of galvanized steel and high-strength aluminum. The safety mesh and the suspension cables are all galvanized steel. The entire project was designed to blend with the natural environment, leaving the forest virtually intact. The trails, covering a distance of about 3.1 km, are right inside the forest. As you walk, you can appreciate a great diversity of flowers and wildlife that are typical of the rain forest as well as some imposing views of the Volcano (weather permitting).

Sky Trek Adventure in Arenal Theme Park

After lunch drive to a private reserve near the north-facing slopes of the Cordillera de Tilarán which offer volcano views, to be enjoyed from an aerial Sky Tram that rises 236 meters in a 1250 meters ride, taking visitors up to a Mirador (lookout point) where starts the Sky Trek zip line circuit. There are currently ten zip line cables and they range in height from 30 meters to 200 meters and in length from 200 meters to 750 meters. Before leaving the main building to start your tour, you will be fitted with all of the necessary safety equipment (harness, helmet, gloves), which the guides will take care to properly adjust. Afterwards a safety speech detailing proper form and the innovative braking system. Zipping along nearly two miles (three kilometers) of cables, you will see the rain forest as well as get a panoramic view of the volcano and lake from a whole new perspective.

Late Afternoon visit Hidalgo Family Hot Springs

In 1957 Don Manuel and Doña Hortemida Hidalgo started a cattle ranch in the shadow of Arenal Volcano on land that happened to have a hot spring. In 2000 we convinced a reluctant Don Manuel, Doña Hortemida and their daughter Mireya to allow our guests to visit the hot springs. Now the hot springs run by Doña Mireya and her son, Orlando, has replaced cattle as the ranches main economic activity.

The springs consist of 5 free-flowing pools set in a natural river gorge. Water temperature ranges from 100ºF (38ºC) to 109ºF (43ºC) depending on the pool. An assortment of blended smoothies and cocktails are prepared at the bar located in the pool area (additional cost). Tonight’s dinner is Costa Rican home style meal in o restaurant, modeled after the first house that Don Manuel and Doña Hortemida built on the ranch.

Overnight at: Arenal Manoa.   Junior Suite (or similar)

 DAY 6: Arenal / Tortuguero (BLD) (NG)

After an early morning breakfast, drive 5 hours to the Caño Blanco dock, where you will meet the boat for the 1 ½ -hour boat ride to Tortuguero. The last part of the drive, will take you through banana plantations.  Until the 19th century, Costa Rica was very poor with an economy based on subsistence agriculture.  Then the introduction of coffee provided a product suitable for export.  Coffee was followed by bananas; both remain two of the most important crops in Costa Rica today. Arrive at Tortuga Lodge mid to late afternoon.

Overnight at: Tortuga Lodge and Gardens. Downstairs River View Room

DAY 7: Tortuguero (BLD) (NG)

In 1910 Walton Martinez a sea captain of Afro Caribbean origin settled in Tortuguero. Before1947 when a timber boom brought in 100’s workers, the entire population of Tortuguero consisted of his 7 children and their families.

When the boom ended in 1972, many people left Tortuguero.  Those who stayed found work helping Dr. Archie Carr, a zoologist who moved to Tortuguero to study sea turtles.  Among them was Walton’s granddaughter Miss Juney Martinez who was his cook. Today we will have lunch in her restaurant which is now run by her son, Cloyd and her daughter, Noily.

In 1975 Tortuguero National Park was founded. Beginning in the early 80’s attracted by the beauty of the park and its highly diverse and abundant wild-life vanguard travelers began to discover Tortuguero.  Enchanted by what they found those early travelers spread the word.  Now Tortuguero, still only accessible by boat or light air-craft, is a mecca for nature travelers.

In the morning explore the creeks of the Tortuguero National park with your guide. Originally intended to protect a major nesting beach of the Atlantic Green sea turtle, Tortuguero National Park now protects 51,870 acres, one of the last large areas of tropical rain forests in Central America.

Visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy Visitor Center

Visit the museum founded by the Sea Turtle Conservation, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC).  The late Dr. Archie Carr began to study and tag the thousands of Atlantic Green Sea Turtles that every year, from June through October, come to Tortuguero Beach to lay their eggs. The study began in 1959 and has continued without fail ever since, under the auspices of the STC. It is the longest-running continuous study of its kind in the world, their work has greatly improved the survival outlook for several species of sea turtles and it has had a profound effect on the community of Tortuguero.  The organization began its work in Costa Rica, but has expanded its research and conservation efforts throughout Central America and the Wider Caribbean.

Lunch at Miss Juney’s

Afternoon at leisure.

Additional boat trips are available at extra cost. There will also be time to wander on the deserted beach (swimming is discouraged for safety reasons) where thousands of green sea turtles come to nest from June through October (there are special night excursions available in this season).

A few of you may have an opportunity to participate in “The Words Adventure,” helping local kids learn English.  To not overwhelm the kids only a few guests at a time can participate.  Let us know if you are interested at time of booking so we can hold your place.  Learn more here.

Overnight Tortuga Lodge.

DAY 8: Tortuguero / San Jose (BLD) (NG)

Morning departure from Tortuga Lodge, cross the Tortuguero River by boat and board your 30 minute Costa Rica Expeditions light charter flight (seat in plane) from Tortuguero to San José.  Upon arrival transportation is provided to a Coffee Plantation.

Doka Estate Coffee Tour – From the seed to the cup

Located in the coffee capital of Costa Rica, Sabanilla, Alajuela. The farm belongs to the Costa Rican Vargas Ruiz family, pioneers of coffee production for more than 70 years. The tour takes place on the Doka Estate, where you can learn all the stages off coffee production beginning with a seed bed and ending in the Coffee House with the finished product. You will also learn coffee’s vital role in the economy and culture of Costa Rica.

Overnight at: Hotel Presidente.   Standard Room (or similar)

DAY 9: Departure (TG)

Transfer to the International Airport at least three hours prior to the departure time for your flight out of the country.



Hotel El Presidente

The full service Hotel El Presidente offers 70 rooms in the heart of downtown San Jose. Guestrooms have city or mountain views. Beds have down comforters and premium bedding. The Hotel El Presidente is only a few blocks from the most important cultural and historical landmarks in Downtown San Jose: the Costa Rica National Theatre, the Gold -, Jade – and National Museums, the Asamblea Legislativa (Costa Rican Congress), the Plaza de La Cultura and Plaza de la Democracia and the National Cathedral. Breakfast buffet included. Hotel telephone: (506) 2010-0000.

Tortuga Lodge & Gardens

Tortuga Lodge, situated on 146 acres of private land on Costa Rica’s northeast Caribbean coast, was our first hotel. It is now our newest hotel. Everything we have learned about designing nature lodges over the last 25 years has gone into the remodeling of Tortuga Lodge. What we learned can be summarized in three words: “Reflect the place.” The lodge has 13 Downstairs River View Rooms, 13 Upstairs River View Rooms and 1 penthouse.

The essence of Tortuguero is slow-moving tropical rivers. Everything about Tortuguero is defined by the rivers. They are Tortuguero’s roads and Tortuguero’s soul. If a visitor wants to bring home the essence of Tortuguero he/she must get in tune with the rivers.

The Lodge’s restaurant starts at the river dock and reluctantly moves inland. Designed to blend into the river environment, the pool features an environmentally-friendly purification system that uses an undetectable amount of salt instead of commercial chlorine. The water does not irritate the eyes. The all-pervasive presence of the water blurs distinctions. As your boat moves slowly through the forest, you are immersed in a world where the forest merges with the rivers and the water becomes part of the tree. Land and water, indoors and outdoors lose part of their meaning. The first ten rooms built at Tortuga Lodge were dark and enclosed. Now whatever was useful from those rooms has been recycled into the community, and all rooms at Tortuga Lodge have almost as much window area as walls.

During the season (July through October) the highlight of your trip to Tortuguero is actually standing a few feet from a 300-pound Green Sea Turtle while she lays 80-100 eggs, covers up her nest, perhaps digs a false nest to throw off predators, and, finally, after more than an hour, returns to the sea.  Hot Climate. Hotel telephone: 011 (506) 2709-8136

Arenal Manoa

Located 10 minutes away from La Fortuna the hotel has 40 Junior Suites with volcano view, private bathroom with a small interior garden and balcony. All rooms are equipped with two queen sized beds, air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, terrace with a view of the volcano, mini bar, safe-deposit box and coffee maker. The hotel also features pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant and wet bar. Warm Climate. Hotel telephone: 011 (506) 2479-1111

Monteverde Lodge & Gardens

“…the most outstanding hotel and also a good bargain.”  Costa Rica Handbook, Moon Publications.

Located just 15 minutes from the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Monteverde Lodge offers second floor Forest View Balcony Rooms with king beds and balcony and ground floor Forest View Rooms with newly remodeled glass enclosed showers. The main area of Monteverde Lodge includes a glass cathedral entry, high wooden ceilings, an open fireplace, restaurant and bar, and 15-person Jacuzzi. There are comfortable sofas in the bar, reading room and on the garden terrace. The landscaping is designed to bring the flora and fauna of the cloud forest to the doorstep of the hotel. Plan on spending a morning or afternoon to wander in the 15 year old gardens that include Imperial Bromeliads, Costa Rica’s national flower the Guarianthe skinneri orchid, known locally as the Guaria Morada and hedges of Blue porter weed and Lantana where butterflies feed constantly. You may also choose to sit on the deck overlooking the pond and wait for the White-faced Monkey or the Agouti to pass by.Cool climate. Hotel telephone:  011 (506) 2645-5057.


San José:                  69°F; 3,500 ft.

Tortuguero:               79°F; sea level

Arenal:                       65°F; 900 ft.

Monteverde:              65°F; 4,450 ft.