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Costa Rica: Wildlife Rescue

This is our intensive 8-Day program for animal lovers - while spending a day volunteering at a wildlife rescue clinic you can get up close (even touch) wildlife you would normally only see from a distance.

You will also experience everything for which Costa Rica is famed: volcanos, fumaroles, mud baths, thermal springs, sky-blue waterfalls, crystal-clear swim holes, bird watching, horseback riding, rainforest zip-lining, caving, a river cruise, surfing lessons, amazing beaches, great food, and the best chocolate and coffee in the world!

As with our other destinations around the world we take maximum advantage of our small group footprint - whenever possible we pair up with private guides, start early, and take the trails less travelled.

Five National Parks & Wildlife Rescue Center

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Protects over 54 square miles and is home to some of Costa Rica's most fascinating geology. Steam and sulphur pour out of the ground at fumeroles, pools bubble with boiling hot volcanic water, and the mud froths and explodes out of the ground.
There are almost a dozen waterfalls, rivers cross the trails and there is an enormous variety of vegetation and wildlife.
This is where we'll enjoy a sunset horseback ride and geo-thermal trail hike.

Arenal Volcano National Park

Home of La Fortuna Waterfall, Chato Volcano, 850 species of birds, and a wide variety of plant life. The lava on Arenal stopped flowing in 2010 and the crater is off limits, so we're here to hike up to the Chato Crater from La Fortuna waterfall.
The hike will give us our best chance to see some of the most elusive wildlife in Costa Rica (including the resplendent Quetzal) and the crater is filled with a green lagoon (swim in the brisk water, if you dare).

Wildlife Rescue (8-day and 9-day)

Human development and the accompanying destruction of natural habitat, not to mention illegal hunting, have led to a precipitous decline in wildlife populations across Costa Rica, causing many species to be in danger of extinction. The wildlife rescue center helps injured wild animals and educates the public on the struggle of these animals.
We'll help prepare meals, building enclosures, or cleaning and painting them. We'll get close enough to touch many animals we would normally only see from a distance.

Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve

Biodiversity.
The cool, misty forests are home to an incredible range of plants and animals - this cloud forest is home to more than 400 bird species, more plant speciesthan in the United States and Canada combined, and the largest concentration of orchids in the world.
This is where we'll wake up early for a dawn birding hike, go ziplining, and enjoy a trapiche (sugar and coffee) tour.

Barra Honda Caverns National Park

Home to a mesa that rises almost 1000 feet over the Tempisque valley. The mesa was formed when an ancient coral reef was forced upwards by a tectonic shift over 70 million years ago, and over the millennia rain has carved the limestone into caves filled with awe-inspiring calcite formations. We'll first climb to the top of the mesa, then we'll descend into the caves by ladder and spend a few hours exploring with guide.

Palo Verde National Park

One of the most important sanctuaries in Central America for migrating and resident waterfowl. The park itself encompasses a rich mosaic of tropical dry forest and magnificent wetlands, the Río Tempisque estuary supports a variety of mangroves, and Isla Pájaro is the most important nesting colony for wading birds in northwest Costa Rica. We'll board a private skiff with our guide for a two hour wildlife cruise.

Nicoya Peninsula

Famed for turtle nesting, surfing and endless beaches. We’ll end our trip unwinding here with a morning of surf lessons in Tamarindo, a half day exploring the best beaches, and some shopping!

Itinerary

DayDestinationHighlights
1La Fortuna de San Carlos
Natural Hot Springs
Meet your Group Director at the airport for an early morning flight to Costa Rica! Arrive in San José, meet your local driver/guide and board your your private shuttle for a transfer to your hotel La Fortuna de San Carlos, a small town on Lake Arenal with easy access to natural hot springs, Arenal Volcano, Chato Volcano, and La Fortuna Waterfall. On arrival in the late afternoon we’ll check into the the hotel, change into swimsuits, and head out to enjoy the hot springs before ending the day exploring the different food options on a typical Costa Rican dinner menu.
2Wildlife Rescue
Arenal Hanging Bridges
Wake up to the smell of Costa Rican coffee and enjoy buffet breakfast before taking a ride to a wildlife rescue center where you can spend the morning helping prepare meals suited to the diets of the various animals, getting up close to the animals. Enjoy lunch near Fortuna Waterfall then hike down to watch the water fall 200’ feet to an emerald green pool. Swim, take pictures, hang out. Next you’re off to the rainforest where a local guide will join us for a hike along a system of bridges hanging way up in the forest canopy. We’ll keep our eyes open for toucans, spider monkeys, lizards, turkeys, birds and the rarely spotted sloths. Freshen up at the hotel before exploring the menu of another local restaurant.
3Volcano Hike
Lake Arenal Kayaking
Santa Elena
Enjoy an early breakfast then take a quick ride to the 1968 Lava Trail at Arenal Volcano or the Crater Trail at Chato Volcano. The 1968 Trail is the easier of the two: a gentle climb to the lava flow summit crosses lava fields being slowly reclaimed by the jungle since the dramatic eruptions of 1968. The Cerra Chato trail is more challenging: a steep climb through lush jungle ends with astonishing views of the emerald green lagoon inside the crater. Both trails have incredible views of Arenal Volcano. Take a well deserved rest over lunch before taking a short ride to Lake Arenal where local guides will teach you the basics of kayaking before taking you on a wildlife tour of the lake shore. Back on the shuttle for the ride around the lake and up to Santa Elena, a small town on the perimeter of the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve. Check into the hotel, freshen up, then head into town to choose a restaurant for dinner.
4Dawn Birding Hike
Zipline Tour
Cocoa & Sugar Cane Tour
Early breakfast! Today you’re off in search of Costa Rica’s most sought-after birds and morning is the best time to hear (and then find) them. Monteverde is home to more than 400 species of bird including the Quetzal, azure-hooded jay, prong-billed barbet, black-faced solitaire and orange-bellied trogon. Next up, the canopy zipline tour: You’ll zipline from tree to tree hundreds of feet above the ground, sometimes crossing valleys on with cable distances over 1km! Students looking for an even bigger adrenaline rush can try the tarzan swing. The canopy tour is followed by a Cocoa & Sugar Cane Tour where you’ll learn about cocoa, cocoa butter, chocolate, coffee and sugar. Back to the hotel to freshen top before heading back to town to choose another restaurant for dinner.
5Cortez Waterfall
Rincón de la Vieja
Sunset Horseride
Late/relaxed breakfast, so sleep in a bit! Board your shuttle for a transfer to somewhere completely different: you’re off to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano Park in Guanacaste. Along the way there are two stops, one to visit a secret waterfall with a wonderful swimming hole, and another for lunch at a restaurant where you can usually get great pictures of brilliantly colored scarlet macaws. On arrival at the hotel in the late afternoon we’ve arranged a guided sunset horse ride to a waterfall ending at the top of a mountain. Enjoy a relaxed dinner.
6Palo Verde Cruise
Choratega Pottery
Tamarindo
Today you leave for the surfer's paradise of Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula. Along the way there are stops in Palo Verde, and in Guaitil de Santa Cruz: Palo Verde National Park is home to the Rio Tempisque, which you’ll experience up close on a guided river cruise; and Guaitil is home to Choratega Pottery where you’ll meet a local potter who’ll demonstrate how to form and decorate a simple pot before helping you create your own. On arrival in Tamarindo we’ll get oriented with a walk around town and then we'll have some free time to explore before meeting for dinner.
7Surf Lessons
Beaches Tour
Souvenirs
Surf's up! After a relaxed breakfast we meet our instructors for two hours of surfing lessons in warm, crystal-clear, turquoise waters. After the lessons we’ll take some time with our boards to hone our new skills then we’ll board our private shuttle to go swimming at the top three beaches in Tamarindo. We’ll start with the beach that has the best restaurant (it’s right on the beach), then we’ll go to the one with the best views, then we’ll end with the one that has the nicest sand. The day ends with final souvenir shopping in Tamarindo before farewell dinner.
8AirborneBoard your private shuttle for a ride to the airport. Flight home. ¡Adiós Costa Rica!
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