Costa Rica: Treasures of the South
This tour takes you to some of the treasures of southern Costa Rica. You’ll see an amazing selection of Costa Rica’s biodiversity, rub shoulders with scientists doing vital research on tropical ecology, experience the culture of one of Costa Rica’s indigenous peoples, ponder the mysterious stone spheres, explore mangrove wetlands by boat, and hike in the Corcovado National Park.
Costa Rica: Treasures of
January 26 – February 5, 2023
Inquire about custom dates and itineraries to suit your group of family and friends.
We’ll start with a couple of nights in San Gerardo de Dota in the Talamanca Mountains — one of my favorite places in Costa Rica. We’ll look for the resplendent quetzal, hike in the cloud forest, and eat amazing meals at Miriam’s Restaurant and Los Colibris Pizzeria.
We’ll head to the Las Cruces Biological Research Station near the Panama border from the mountains. We’ll be staying for three nights at the station, eating our meals with the researchers, exploring the Wilson Botanical Garden, learning about tropical forest fragmentation and reforestation from the scientists, and visiting the organic coffee farm of Don Roberto and Dona Noemi.
From Las Cruces, we’ll go to Sierpe, on the Pacific Coast. While there, we’ll explore the mangrove wetlands by boat and hike in the Corcovado National Park, which is estimated to contain 2% of the world’s biodiversity. We’ll spend our last night in Alajuela after a drive up the coast from Sierpe, including a stop at the Crocodile Bridge. After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll head to the airport for your flight home after enjoying the treasures of southern Costa Rica.
Arrival in Costa Rica
Arrive at San Jose’s international airport and transfer to Alajuela City hotel by cab. You may arrive early enough to visit the church on the central square and the Juan Santamaria Historical Museum just steps from our hotel. Or, perhaps you just want to relax after a day of airplanes and airports. Meals included: none.
Transfer to the Talamanca Mountains
After an early breakfast, we’ll head to Irazú Volcano and admire the amazing views. Then we’ll go to Cartago to see the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles and have lunch. Meals included: breakfast & dinner.
Today, we’re in the midst of Los Quetzales National Park in the Talamanca Mountain range with an elevation of 5-7,000 feet. It is one of Costa Rica’s famous cloud forests. Within the Park, researchers have identified three different types of rain forests and 14 distinct ecological zones, each with its own unique qualities. Meals included: breakfast.
Transfer to Las Cruces
After breakfast at Miriam’s, we’ll head south and spend some time with the Ngabe people (including lunch), learning about their traditional dress, dance, and crafts. Then we’ll proceed to Las Cruces Biological Research Station near the Panamanian border. We’ll arrive at Las Cruces late in the afternoon, settle into our cabins, and have dinner in the dining hall with the scientists and researchers in residence. Meals included: breakfast, lunch, & dinner.
After breakfast, we’ll get an orientation tour of the Research Station. In the afternoon, you’ll have a chance to learn about forest fragmentation both in the classroom and on a field trip. There will also be time to go on the trails with Fabián for those who are so inclined. Meals included: breakfast, lunch, & dinner.
Today we’ll visit the organic coffee farm of Don Roberto and Dona Noemi. Don Roberto will take us on a tour of his farm, explaining how his 20 years of organic coffee farming has brought natural springs and wildlife back to what used to be cattle pasture. He’ll also show us the process of drying and roasting the beans. Then we’ll sit and have an amazing cup of coffee with him and Dona Noemi. And yes, you can buy some of their coffee to take home! Meals included: breakfast, lunch, & dinner.
Transfer to Sierpe
In the morning, you’ll have time for birdwatching, strolling around the botanical garden, or hiking along the trails. We’ll leave Las Cruces after lunch and head to Sierpe. On the way, we’ll stop at the Finca 6 Archeological Site, where we will learn about the mysterious pre-Columbian spheres created by the Diquís civilization between 300 BC and 1500 AD. The onsite museum screens a terrific video about what the spheres’ significance and purpose. Meals included: breakfast & lunch.
Today, we’ll take a comfortable boat ride through the channels and waterways of the Sierpe River mangrove ecosystem. With a bit of luck, we’ll spot a great variety of wildlife; toucans, parrots, herons, egrets, jacanas, snakes, crocodiles, fruit bats, white-faced capuchin, squirrel and howler monkeys. Meals included: breakfast.
We’ll get an early start today and head by boat to the Corcovado National Park. The Park is the largest primary forest on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline and is famous for containing 2% of the world’s biodiversity. The area holds thousands of species of flora and fauna, many unique to the area and others which have disappeared from other regions, or are in danger of extinction. Approximately 6,000 insects (including the 123 different butterflies discovered so far), 500 trees (a fourth of all the tree species that exist in Costa Rica), 367 birds, 140 mammals, 117 amphibian and reptiles, and 40 freshwater fish species co-exist here. Meals included: breakfast & lunch.
Transfer to Alajuela
After breakfast, we’ll head to Alajuela following the highway along the Pacific coast, stopping at the Crocodile Bridge for lunch. We’ll get to our hotel around mid-afternoon with enough time to visit the church on the central square and the Juan Santamaria Historical Museum just steps from our hotel. Or, perhaps you just want to relax and contemplate all that you have seen and experienced. Meals included: breakfast.
Transfer by cab from the hotel to airport for flights home. Meals included: breakfast at the hotel (as long as you’re not taking an early morning flight).
Activities are generally not very strenuous; however, we expect guests to enjoy two hours or more of walking, are sure-footed on cobbled surfaces, and walk up and down stairs without assistance. In rural and small-town settings, unpaved roads and pathways will be common with some short sections of rough trail, which we expect that guests can traverse with no more than a companion’s hand to steady them. Historic city centers are frequently more accessible by foot than a vehicle, and sometimes the motor coach can’t drop us off at the hotel and site entrances. Due to the structure of some buildings, facilities for the disabled may be limited.
Costa RicaTreasures of the South
- Price per person/double occupancy. Single supplement of $325
- Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
- Transfers within Costa Rica
- Meals: 10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
- Other meals will be on your own individually or as a group
- Tours (including entry fees) as listed
- Minimum travelers: 5
- Maximum travelers: 9
Traveling During CoVID
We are working to make our itineraries as safe as possible: we are only traveling to countries with high vaccination rates and aggressive public health protocols, our lodging partners are augmenting their cleaning and disinfecting protocols; many of our meals will be in open-air settings, a significant portion of our touring time is spent in the outdoors, and the indoor spaces that we will go into are generally large and uncrowded.