Arenal Volcano & Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve - 5 days / 4 nights
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Nov 30 / 2013
|Children (3-11 yrs)||$188.00|
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Day 1: LA PAZ WATERFALL GARDENS & TRANSFER TO ARENAL VOLCANO - Your journey begins as you leave the urban center of Costa Rica's central valley and head north into the mountains. Your first stop is the renowned La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This unique, enchanting location boasts a comprehensive rescued wildlife preserve, which includes jungle cats, monkeys, birds, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. Enjoy a walk along a sparkling clear mountain river on a trail that provides easy access and great views of gorgeous waterfalls framed by serene forested mountains. Enjoy an appetizing lunch at the facility's restaurant set amid the lush beauty of their gardens. Then continue your journey through the tropical plantations and cattle ranches of the northern central lowland plains before arriving at your hotel in the Arenal region. (L).
Overnight in Arenal at Arenal Observatory Lodge (2 nights) or similar. (2B)
Day 2: VOLCANO TOUR, ORGANIC FARM LUNCH, & FORTUNA WATERFALLS - In the morning, traverse a landscape shaped by old lava flows with your naturalist guide. The Arenal Volcano erupted in 1968 devastating the village and farmlands in the western foothills at its base. After slightly more than four decades of activity which included smaller eruptions, hot rock avalanches (termed pyroclastic flows), and lava flows, Arenal Volcano today steams quietly, and heats numerous local rivers that flow near its base. These natural hot rivers have been channeled into pools to create hot springs. The volcano will likely undergo another similar active phase several hundred years from now. Rainforests are now regenerating in the areas cleared by the explosion. During your visit, you may see parrots, toucans and other forest wildlife.
After exploring the lava flows, you will tour an organic farm and educational center managed by a rural family and dedicated to preserving the traditional Costa Rican lifestyle. Here you will have a lovingly prepared typical Costa Rican lunch.
Walk off your lunch with a short afternoon hike to the La Fortuna Waterfall. This beautiful 200 foot-tall waterfall receives its cool, clear waters from the pristine forested mountains of Arenal National Park. The steep trail leads you down through dense, lush rainforest with the objective of reaching a large pool at the base of the falls. (L).
Day 3: ARENAL HANGING BRIDGES & TRANSFER TO MONTEVERDE - Explore the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a system of suspended bridges and trails that provide access to the forest floor, and canopy layer of a beautiful rainforest. The plant and animal communities that inhabit different layers of a rainforest can be quite different from one another. The lush vegetation is composed of numerous species of palms, ferns, bromeliads, orchids, heliconias and tall trees. From some of the bridges there are panoramic views of nearby Arenal Volcano. As you walk through the rainforest, you may encounter a wide diversity of forest wildlife, including toucans, motmots, trogons, poison dart frogs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and white-faced capuchin monkeys. If you don't recognize the names of these animals, then ask you friendly, knowledgeable guide!
After exploring the hanging bridges, you will travel into the mountains en route to your hotel in Monteverde. Located in the Tilaran Mountain Range of the Puntarenas Province, Monteverde, which translates to Green Mountain, is the name of both the famous cloud forest reserve and a small nearby community. Your transfer will take you through small rural Costa Rican villages, dairy farms and coffee plantations. The small mountain farms of these towns are owned by "campesinos" (country farmers). The most important regional farm products are organic coffee, which can be purchased in local stores, and milk for the local Monteverde Cheese Factory. In and around the community center there is a large selection of restaurants, and other fun activities, such as butterfly gardens, horse rentals, an orchid garden, art galleries, and an excellent educational bat exhibit.
Overnight in Monteverde at Fonda Vela (2 nights) or similar. (2B)
Day 4: ZIP LINE CANOPY TOUR & MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE - After breakfast, get a different perspective of the rainforest on a Zip Line Canopy Tour. This is an exhilarating way to view the forest while you traverse from treetop to treetop with specialized equipment along horizontal cables that bring you to a series of platforms built amid the treetops! Suitable for children and active seniors, this tour will give you an unusual way to appreciate the magnificent beauty of a cloud forest, by literally flying through it!.
The Monteverde area offers a variety of restaurants where you can have a break for lunch after your morning tour (lunch not included).
In the early afternoon you will visit the world-famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Hike in this reserve on well-groomed trails with your expert naturalist guide. The reserve was founded in 1972, after initially being set aside as a watershed reserve by a group of Quakers who settled here in 1950. A cloud forest is a montane forest that receives rainfall and abundant mist from low lying clouds (mostly in late afternoons into the night and early morning) and is a very rare type of rainforest, accounting for less than 2% of all rainforests. These conditions create a forest where most of the tree trunks and branches are covered by small plants (termed epiphytes) that include ferns, bromeliads and orchids. Cloud forests harbor unique species of plants and animals, including the Resplendent Quetzal which was revered by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans and which spends about half the year in Monteverde feeding and breeding. The reserve supports a remarkable biodiversity, including over 2,500 plant species (including 420 species of orchids), 100 species of mammals, 400 bird species, 120 reptile and amphibian species and thousands of insects. As a prime example of a cloud forest ecosystem Monteverde has been intensely studied by scientists, and is the site for pioneering research on the effects of climate change on tropical ecosystems. The income the reserve receives from visitors helps support the local economy, and conserves an important, rare ecosystem. Thus the reserve serves as a good example of how a protected rainforest can be of great value to the region's local residents.
Day 5: TRANSFER TO SAN JOSE (OR BEACH EXTENSION) - Explore the principal community of the area, Santa Elena, before going back to San Jose or being transferred to the beach or other destination. You may want to take advantage of banks and supermarkets, visit the local cheese factory, women's cooperative (CASEM) or one of the many art and craft galleries to purchase some souvenirs or gifts for the folks back home such as local coffee, wood sculptures, embroidered clothing, and paintings by resident artists just to name a few.
Trip Includes: Lodging, transportation and meals as specified in the above itinerary where [B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner], entrance fees to National Parks and Private Reserves, tours, guide services, applicable taxes, service fees and in-country ground operator support.
Not Included: International airfare, airport departure taxes, meals not specified in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages, personal equipment, extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service), gratuities, or costs associated with changes in your itinerary for reasons beyond our control.