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Discover the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica - and the culture shaped by the tropical wilderness - with your loved ones, on a trip that's tailored for families. Pick produce and make dinner with a local family during an agricultural homestay, look for three-toed sloths in the thickets of the Manuel Antonio National Park and walk through the canopy of Monteverde's cloud forest on a suspended bridge. Take a break from active adventure by soaking in springs heated by Arenal Volcano and lying beneath swaying palms on pristine beaches while the kids play nearby. This adventure takes you into the wild heart of a country many visit but few truly know.
Day 1: San Jose
Welcome to subtropical San Jose! Meet your leader and fellow family travellers at a welcome meeting at 5 pm at the hotel. If you arrive early there is plenty to see in this bustling city, and as the streets are laid out in a grid pattern it’s relatively easy to navigate too. Check out a few of the optional activities below, just note that as these activities are not included, they may incur an extra charge. The Spirogyra Butterfly Garden, for example, is the perfect way to introduce kids (and adults) of all ages to Costa Rican biodiversity while getting some respite from the clamour of the city. After the meeting tonight, perhaps get a taste of ‘Tico’ food (and get to know the other families and your tour leader) with an optional dinner as a group.
Day 2: Santa Rosa de Pocosol
Fuel up on breakfast and get some books or classic car games ready for the 3-hour drive to Santa Rosa de Pocosol. The tiny agricultural community of Juanilama (pop. approximately 200) in the Santa Rosa de Pocosol area is predominantly dedicated to milk production and raising cattle. It’s the perfect place to experience life in small-town Costa Rica – you’ll even be staying with a local family! Settle in and get to know your hosts before going on an agricultural tour. During the tour the children will learn how to plant vegetables as well as gather some produce to be used in tonight’s cooking class. You will have some free time to wander around the community before coming together to create a meal with the produce collected earlier. Vamos a comer (Let’s eat)!
Day 3: Arenal
Today you’ll cross west through the north of the country to Arenal (approximately 1 hour), which lies beneath the volcano of the same name. Rising from verdant plains, Arenal Volcano shoots up 1633 metres in a perfect cone and in certain light resembles a storybook drawing. The landscape is mainly cloud forest and rainforest, cut through with rivers, lakes and -- thanks to the volcano’s inner workings -- thermal hot springs. On arrival you are free to explore the area at your own pace. Or perhaps you’d prefer to unwind by the hotel pool in view of the mighty Arenal Volcano. Your accommodation also features onsite hot springs where you can relax your muscles in preparation for an active day tomorrow.
Day 4: Arenal
Head out for a guided morning tour of Arenal National Park with a hike around the lake. Take trails through dwarf cloud forest and listen to the birdsong of several species of hummingbird, as well as the melodious clay-coloured robin. The afternoon is then free for optional activities in the local area. Please note as these activities are not included, some incur extra cost. To get a closer view of the majestic volcano peak, you could take a hike past old lava flows on the Arenal 1968 Trail. There are two options on the 1968, including a shorter route suitable for families with younger kids. Or maybe a slow-paced soar on the Sky Tram is more your family’s speed? Chat to your leader about these and the many other options on offer today.
Day 5: Monteverde
Today is a travel day as you travel via Tilaran to Monteverde de Santa Elena (approximately 4–5 hours). Break up the journey with a snack stop for great homemade cakes and refreshments before continuing uphill to cool-climate Monteverde. In 1951 North American Quakers founded the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, a sanctuary for the unique flora and fauna of Costa Rica. More than 2000 species of plants, 320 bird species and 100 different types of mammals call the reserve home, and over the next few days you’ll get acquainted with some of them. There may be time to make an optional visit the nearby Butterfly Garden today upon arrival (an additional cost). Otherwise, settle into your accommodation and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.
Day 6: Monteverde
See the forest from a different perspective on an included canopy walk across the suspended bridges of Monteverde. The sheer variety of bird life in Monteverde is enough to make an ornithologist out of anyone, so don’t be surprised if younger children have a new answer to the question ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ While you’re up among the treetops look (or listen) out for the reclusive resplendent quetzal, the blue-crowned motmot or the emerald toucanet. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or partake in some optional activities. You could visit an orchid farm or whizz through the trees on zip-lines. If conditions are right, there might be a chance to hike through the forest at dusk, a unique opportunity to see the area’s nocturnal creatures begin to stir.
Day 7: Manuel Antonio National Park
Wave adios to Monteverde and hit the Pan-American Highway for a southward journey past beaches and palm plantations to Manuel Antonio (around 6 hours). Arrive at your accommodation, located close to the national park, and spend an evening at leisure. Tomorrow you’ll have the opportunity to explore the evergreen forest and the long, white beaches it nudges up against. Tonight, maybe take the family for a traditional Costa Rican meal at a soda (local restaurant), where you can mix with locals and try some of the region’s incredible fresh produce. Please note this dinner is not included, but your leader can give you tips on where to go and what to order!
Day 8: Manuel Antonio National Park
After breakfast enjoy a 3-hour guided walk along the trails that snake through Manuel Antonio National Park. Immerse yourself in nature and learn more about the area’s diverse wild and plant life from your guide. Look and listen carefully and you may be able to spot howler monkeys, two- and three-toed sloths, iguanas and more. The afternoon is free to explore this magical area further at your family’s desired pace. Maybe you’d like to relax on one of the idyllic palm-lined bays while the kids splash in the water. Active types have the option to rent equipment to kayak, surf or fish in the glittering ocean (for an extra cost). There are no wrong choices in this balmy paradise.
Day 9: San Jose
Rise and shine for your final morning in this beachside haven. Enjoy your last hours in Manuel Antonio with some free time before making the return drive to San Jose in the mid-afternoon (approximately 3 hours). There are no activities planned on arrival at San Jose but maybe head out as a group for a final optional dinner to reminisce about your time together.
Day 10: San Jose
There are no activities planned for today. Please remember to comply with the hotel’s internal check-out times if you are leaving today. Can’t get enough of San Jose? Why not head out on a Tropical Rainforest and Chocolate Urban Adventure, which uncovers the chocolate and wildlife secrets of the jungle. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/San-Jose-tour-tropical-rainforest-and-chocolate-adventure.
- Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Agricultural tour
- Santa Rosa de Pocosol - Cooking Class
- Arenal National Park - Hike and Lake
- Monteverde - Sky Walk
- Manuel Antonio National Park - (Entrance fee)
9 Breakfast(s) Included
2 Dinner(s) Included
Question: Is there a minimum age requirement?
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Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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I've booked numerous trips here. Great experience.
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