DESTINATION: Costa Rica Itinerary Friday - Saturday February 12-27, 2010 Leaders:
Mike Sappingfield & Donna Specht February 12, Friday: Arrive at LAX, mid-evening for departure on overnight flight to Costa Rica. February 13, Saturday, San Jose to Manuel Antonio: Arrive Juan Santamaria Int'l Airport, San Jose, Costa Rica early approx 9:30 AM. As you exit the airport, our two blue coaches will be out front. These air-conditioned coaches will accompany us throughout our trip. After a market stop to pick up some snacks, exchange dollars and purchase some Happy Hour items like the local firewater called Guaro, we will head west toward the Golfo de Nicoya coast. Along the way south, we stop at Crocodile Bridge on the Rio Tarcoles where you'll see crocs basking along the riverbanks. Did you see the program “Killer Crocs of Costa Rica” on the Discovery Channel? Then it's on to Jaco for a lunch stop, Quepos and Manuel Antonio. Check in. Make arrangements for guides for our next day tour of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio. Dinner at our hotel, walk into town or El Avion. February 14, Sunday, Manuel Antonio: The small Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (opens at 7 am) has stunning beaches, a magnificent setting with offshore islands, abundant wildlife, lush rainforests with a network of trails, all within walking distance of our hotel. We will probably hire local guides who grew up in the area and get a group rate for those interested. At our hotel, there is an amazing amount of wildlife: Troops of monkeys come flying through the trees, iguanas and beautiful birds. There are also senderos ( hiking trails) near our hotel. Watch for wildlife. We have seen deer, butterflies, frogs, sloths. Breakfast at hotel included. February 15, Monday, Manuel Antonio: Another day to explore. Tours can also be arranged at our hotel. Or come with us on a tour of the Isla Damas Estuary mangrove forest, one of the most amazing and important ecological systems in Costa Rica. Owned and operated by knowledgeable local Ticos.. Breakfast at hotel included. February 16, Tuesday, Manuel Antonio to Santa Elena & Monteverde: Depart Manuel Antonio early AM. Head west and then north toward the cloud forests of the Cordillera de Tilaran. Arrive early afternoon. Santa Elena/Monteverde is one of Costa Rica’s most popular destinations. The roads may be rough. Costa Rica has effectively created a moat around a precious experiment in sustainable ecotourism where humans are learning to make their living from the rain forest without destroying it. Breakfast at Manuel Antonio included. February 17, Wednesday, Santa Elena/Monteverde: Visit Reserva (Biologica Bosque Nuboso) Monteverde, Serpentarium, Orchid Gardens, Mundo de los Insectos. The Ranario or Frog Pond (“Who has seen the Golden Toad?”) is located near our hotel. There are many kinds of tours with fantastic local guides who grew up in the area. We will be at about 5,000 feet in the heart of the rain forest. Usually a little cooler. February 18, Thursday, Santa Elena/Monteverde: More exploring of this exciting area of hiking trails, Canopy tours in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, butterfly farm, hummingbirds, organic coffee farming, cheese factory, walk through the Tico communities of Monteverde and Santa Elena. February 19, Friday, Santa Elena to Arenal: Depart Santa Elena early AM. We head north toward Tilaran and around Laguna de Arenal, the largest in Costa Rica and make various stops of interest. Arrive early afternoon . If the weather is clear, we will have a close up view of Volcan Arenal. On some of our trips, we have witnessed this active volcano spewing smoke and fireworks. Check in. February 20, Saturday, Arenal: Join us on the optional Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge boat tour, near the Nicaragua border. On our return, we stop at the Desafio River Center and hear about their available adventure activities for the next day. Breakfast included. Beautiful open air dining. Buffet dinner included. February 21, Sunday, Arenal: Strike out on your own adventure, or Visit Volcan Arenal Natl Park and hike with the leaders ($10 entrance fee). After a full day, you might want to visit the Baldi Hot Springs. Breakfast at hotel included. This evening, please repack. Take only a daypack with some clothes and bare essentials for Tortuguero; your other luggage will be left behind on the coach. Bring cash, raingear, sandals, plastic bags to protect your clothes and pack.
February 22, Monday, Arenal to Caribbean Tortuguero: Depart early am and travel to east toward the Caribbean. The road to Limon is relatively new but after we turn off near Siquirres, the road turns to rocks through banana plantations to Cano Blanco marina for 2 hour boat ride to Tortuguero. A large chunk of your cost for this trip is the transportation to/from Tortuguero and use of the marina. Upon arrival, orientation talk from our local guide. The boat trip is very exciting and a lot of fun, especially if it starts to rain! While the greenbacks come ashore in vast numbers in July, Hawksbill turtles arrive from March to November. (Stragglers are seen every month of the year.) The village is rustic, poorly developed, and somewhat isolated as all supplies are brought in by boat/plane. There are no roads, no cars only muddy paths that meander throughout the village. Although they are working on some concrete walkways in some of the wetter areas. (Rent some boots!) The town provides much of the labor force to operate the high-end all-inclusive Americano resorts to the north. There are no ATMs, no credit cards used here; it is a cash economy. Tortuguero is one of the wettest areas in the country. Swimming not recommended due to strong undertoads and large sharks. With all that said, Tortuguero is spectacular and probably the closest you will ever get to living with the people of any country. There are lots of activities and willing guides. Relax and settle in for an incredible experience. Breakfast at Arenal included. February 23, Tuesday, Caribbean Tortuguero: Visit The Caribbean Conservation Corporation visitor center and learn all about sea turtle conservation. Also within walking distance is the Parque Nacional Tortuguero, best with a guide to view monkeys, sloths, anteaters, kinkajous, birds, amphibians and eyelash vipers. Maybe observe hatching baby turtles. Do not disturb turtle sites. Beware of guides who dig up turtle sites. Tortuguero is a relatively poor part of Costa Rica. We will visit the local high school. During the 2004 trip we donated a used laptop to the high school administrator and with each of our following visits, we donate some cash to the high school, which is at the very end of the financial pipeline from San Jose. At our pre-trip meeting we'll discuss what we can do. There are small shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and yes, even a pizzeria. Tortuguero has some of the best food and quaint dockside restaurants anywhere in Costa Rica. Breakfast included. February 24, Wednesday, CaribbeanTortuguero to Cahuita: Depart Tortuguero am to Cano Blanco Marina, rejoin our coaches and travel south to Parque Nacional Cahuita. Perhaps we can stop at a super-Mercado along the way to purchase snacks or some Costa Rican coffee. Cahuita National Park is only about 40 feet from our hotels. From Cahuita, you have access to two national parks, several indigenous and biological reserves. February 25 Thursday, Caribbean Cahuita: Visit two national parks, several indigenous and biological reserves. Tour Cahuita Natl Park. Observe your usual precautions of leaving valuables on the beach while swimming. February 26, Friday, Cahuita: Visit Aviarios del Caribe, Sloth and Wildlife Refuge. On our last day here, you can catch a tour you missed or just relax. Pull out your cleanest clothes and get ready for our Farewell BBQ. A local 3 piece band provides Caribbean music and a whole lot of dancing. Anything goes on this night and usually does. February 27, Saturday, Cahuita to San Jose Airport: Early morning departure to Juan Santamaria Int'l Airport. Visit local shops and market in San Jose area before our late afternoon/early evening flight to LAX. On the grounds of one of the restaurants in San Jose and also in some other areas we visit are some perfectly carved granite spheres from Pre Columbian times whose purpose remains a mystery. What is included: Lodging, land transportation, 8 breakfasts, 2 dinners, many Happy Hours, boat transportation/ marina fees to/from Tortuguero, driver daily per diem and end of trip gratuity ($50 per participant). All other meals, tips, optional tours or special activities extra. Lodging: All of our lodging will be in mid range hotels, locally owned and operated. Costa Rica is a fast developing nation, but at the same time has a very fragile infrastructure. The plumbing is especially fragile. Optional Tours: Many of our tours are organized with trained local guides educated in the wonders of their environment. You will appreciate a guide when he spots a pit viper next to the trail. As a visitor, you are encouraged to follow Costa Rican national park regulations (do not feed the wildlife!) as well as Sierra Club Leave No Trace, pack it in, pack it out, stay on the trail ethics and respect for wildlife. In Cahuita, we will offer an optional visit to a sloth rescue center and learn about the pressures of deforestation on the wildlife of Costa Rica and how the education of children benefits the preservation of critical wildlife. We will visit the Caribbean Conservation Corp at Tortuguero Village (Northern Caribbean) with educational exhibits of all things sea turtle related. Driving time from point to point will be 6 hours or less and some fewer than 6 hours, not counting road hazards, scenic stops and putzing around. About the leaders: Donna has co led Costa Rica 3 times, Mike twice. Both are experienced trip leaders having led many multi day trips. Both are dedicated Angeles Chapter volunteer leaders. Funds from this trip will go to support some of the needs of the Angeles Chapter. Bienvenidos Costa Rica, La Pura Vida
Documents Passport, two extra copies (of photo page)~one for your luggage and one to leave at home Extra Photo ID Insurance Information, Medical card Money, money belt Airline Tickets Credit cards Copies of all documents ID all luggage, inside and out Addresses Itinerary, maps Gear, Essentials Day Pack, luggage/duffle w/wheels, locks optional. Water bottle, snacks Flashlight w/batteries Camera „nocks Pocket knife (not on the plane!) First Aid, insect repellant, bite sticks, Sting Eze. There are some nasty biting bugs and mosquitoes. Some people wear long sleeves, long pants. Personal Toiletries. If you are especially fond of toilet paper, carry it at all times. DO NOT FLUSH DOWN TOILETS. Tissues, wipes, antibacterial wipes, Purel, anti diarrheal, Pepto Bismol Sunscreen, sun hat, lip balm, sunglasses, bandana Calculator Travel Alarm REI type Pack Towel, washcloth All purpose liquid travel soap or Fels Naptha. Zip lock bags, all sizes, garbage bags (to cover your luggage) Active dorkware: An umbrella Duct tape Clothing Costa Rica has two seasons: less wet and more wet. It‟s a rain forest. Light weight rain gear, a windbreaker, polar fleece. At the higher elevation of Santa Elena you can layer all three and be fine. You will need rain gear for Tortuguero Village Bring clothes that you don‟t mind getting absolutely filthy. Light hiking boots or cross trainers. Sport sandals: Keens or Tevas. Tiles and other areas tend to be really, really slippery when wet. Test the soles of any sandals or shoes for grip. Two short sleeve shirts, quick dry, pockets are good Quick dry long sleeve shirt, quick dry long pants (may be used for dress occasions as will as jungle hikes) One pair shorts w/pockets Bathing suit/trunks, sarong Something to wear out to dinner, casual of course. Quick dry socks, one pair of old socks (if you want to rent a pair of rubber boots in Tortuguero Village) AVISO: Pack light. All luggage is secured under plastico on top of the coaches. The drivers have to lift your luggage over their heads and toss up to the other driver on top of the coach every time we load and unload.
11/24/2009 costa rica itinerary 2010 ii