I will be on a blogging hiatus from January 9 to January 25, 2016, as I will be off on a tour to Costa Rica. This post details our first week’s travel itinerary. Originally, I planned to return on the 23rd, but I have extended the trip to to the 25th, so that I can take time to tour Tortuguero National Park which is not listed on the original itinerary.
My friend who is a world travel enthusiast talked me into this 16 day tour sponsored by Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). We are included in a total of 15 peoples listed to be traveling with us. The local temperatures are estimated to be close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. It was recommended that we bring with us sun screen and mosquito repellent. On the itinerary, the following activities were mentioned: white water river rafting, horse back riding, hiking and zip lining. I am NOT kidding about the zip lining. Both of us are over 65 but we are still looking forward to making new memories.
The OAT pamphlet is the resource for most of my commentary, detailing many of our scheduled activities:
Plans for the first 7 days
During “A Day in the Life,” we’ll bring you right into the heart of a real village or town. A typical day includes a walking tour, a meeting with a community leader, a market visit, and a visit to a school supported by Grand Circle Foundation, the travel organization which includes OAT.
The travel schedule has us arriving in a central part of Costa Rica and its capital, San Jose` where we will be touring for a couple of days.
Then we are off to explore Poas Volcano National Park, home to Poas Volcano, one of two active volcanoes near San Jose. The OAT pamplet indicates that we will be able to observe the crater’s rain fed sulfuric pool bubbles which sends clouds of smoke into the air. Then we will trek along a forest trail to overlook the stunning, sapphire blue Botos Lake, which is a dormant crater filled with water. Hopefully, we’ll be able to spot some of the many creatures such as emerald toucanets, a variety of hummingbirds, rabbits and marmots.
During this tour, we are going to be visiting a 70 year old coffee finca, or farm located near the slopes of Poas Volcano. We will be educated about how its world renowned coffee is grown, harvested, processed and packaged.
On day 4, our tour group is off to wandering through the Sarapiqui River and Rain-forest region. We will be staying in lodgings located alongside the Tirimbina Biological Reserve, a lush tropical rain forest teeming with native fauna.
We’ll be driven to the nearby Rio Sarapiqui which is one of several rivers that run down from Costa Rica’s mountainous central highlands, the Cordillera Central. It is here that we have a choice between rafting or going for a stroll to learn about tropical flora and fauna along the river banks.
Later, we have the option of visiting a family-owned pineapple finca. We’ll get an in-depth look at the fields and facilities, while learning about pineapple cultivation methods. Finally, we get a taste of the “Fruit of the Kings.”
In the evening, we are to view a presentation on Costa Rica’s bats. We’ll be learning all about these unique flying mammal population, and have the chance to acquaint ourselves with some live specimens.
On day 5, we are visiting the Tirimbina Biological Reserve, an innovative education and research center devoted to the preservation of this endangered tropical forest ecosystem. We will be crossing a nearly 860 foot suspension bridge over the Rio Sarapiqui. Midway across the bridge, the river flows around a natural island, where we will be able to search for local wildlife.
In the afternoon of day 5, we will be traveling to La Fortuna, a town of thermal spas and verdant hills. It is known as the “front yard of the Arenal Volcano. A local resort & Spa will be our home for the next 3 nights.
Upon our arrival, we will be discovering “The Source of Chocolate,” a chocolate lover’s dream. We’ll be hiking in the rain forest to where the cacoa beans used to make chocolates, are grown in the traditional way. Then we get to observe the process of chocolate making before we taste the delicious results.
On day 6, we will be strolling through the village where we will be welcomed and hosted by a local family for a home cooked meal for lunch; and we will be meeting the children, teachers and parents at a local school, supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation (OAT’s parent company).
On day 7, we will be traveling to the Rio Frio, where we board a small boat on an inland waterway, where we’ll keep an eye out for wading birds- like Northern Jacanas and Wood Storks—-as well as turtles and butterflies during our cruise. Hopefully, with my binoculars, I’ll be able to spot the Spider and Howler Monkeys, and caimans. We are planning to rest for the remainder of the day.
UPDATED: This post was updated on 1/6/16.