FAUNA AND FLORA WITH YOUR FAMILY

Welcome to the country of green gold! Costa Rica's exceptional nature is its most valuable jewel. A treasure we will discover in this itinerary between the Caribbean and the Pacific. In the heart of the most emblematic national parks, such as Corcovado, Cahuita, Arenal and Manuel Antonio, we will discover the exuberant jungle, home to unique and exuberant flora and fauna. We will meet with the indigenous Bribris who will teach us archery and how to make traditional cocoa. We will also learn every small secret about how to make the traditional masks created by the indigenous Borucas.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 JUAN SANTAMARIA AIRPORT- SAN JOSÉ

    In the afternoon, settling into our accommodation and welcome, our local team is in charge.

    Transportation: 30 minutes-1 hour by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: All.

  • Day 2 LA FORTUNA - DANAUS ECOCENTER

    LA FORTUNA - DANAUS ECOCENTER After breakfast, we will head to the Arenal region. Upon arriving to our destination, we will begin discovering Danaus Eco-center. This place was originally plains for cattle, but it was completely reforested and protected. Therefore, it has repopulated. At our own pace, we will discover the Malekus cultural center, their medicinal plant garden, and their frog and butterfly gardens.

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 3 ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK- FAMILY-RUN AGRICULTURAL FARM

    ARENAL VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK- FAMILY-RUN  AGRICULTURAL FARM A part of this day is dedicated to exploring Arenal Volcano National Park. This park's trail is the perfect example of forest regeneration; if the weather is favorable, we will be able to ascend above a lava flow and admire the splendid volcano's perfect cone shape on one side, and an artificial lake, the source of a large part of the energy consumed in the country, on the other. We will have lunch on an estate before visiting the farm.

    Transportation: 1-2 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 3-4 hours

  • Day 4 CARARA NATIONAL PARK - TARCOLES

    CARARA NATIONAL PARK - TARCOLES Today, we are going to the Central Pacific to Tarcoles village, which is famous for is abundance of marine life, such as the gigantic crocodiles that we will observe from the bridge that gets its name from the town. On the way, we will stop and visit the small Carara National Park and later, we will visit the fishing community in Tarcoles to discover their daily routine. At night, we will settle into a family's house in the village and share delightful moments of togetherness.

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Family home
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 2-3 hours

  • Day 5 BOAT EXCURSION ON TARCOLES RIVER - FREE AFTERNOON

    BOAT EXCURSION ON TARCOLES RIVER - FREE AFTERNOON This morning, we are going to go on a boat excursion on Tarcoles River to discover the fauna and flora. With a little bit of luck, we will see gigantic crocodiles, excitement guaranteed! Our afternoon is free to enjoy a bit of rest or activities (to be paid), such as scuba diving and artisanal fishing (approx $120), adventure circuit (approximately $100)...

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Family home
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 2-3 hours

  • Day 6 MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK- PLAYA BLANCA

    MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK- PLAYA BLANCA This morning, we head to the southern coast towards the Osa Peninsula. On the way, we will visit Manuel Antonio National Park. We will begin our hike on the trail that ascends to the viewpoint between the park and the ocean, and if time allows, we will swim in the park's beautiful beach. Manuel Antonio is a very developed place, and rather frequented. However, wildlife observation is extraordinary. At the end of the afternoon, we will settle into the relaxing shores of ''Golfo Dulce'' At night, you may have the opportunity to play with luminous plankton.

    Transportation: 4-5 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 7 CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK, LA LEONA

    CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK, LA LEONA Our day is dedicated to visiting the famous and beautiful Corcovado National Park that we traverse through the trails in La Leona. This park has the largest rainforest on the American Pacific coast: waterfalls, crystal-clear pools and exuberant wildlife await you. With a little luck, we will have the opportunity to observe a large variety of birds, including red macaws and maybe jaguars and tapirs. Return to our lodge in the afternoon to see the sun set over the sea...

    Transportation: 1-2 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Lodge.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 2-3 hours

  • Day 8 MASK WORKSHOP WITH THE INDIGENOUS BORUCAS - DOTA

    MASK WORKSHOP WITH THE INDIGENOUS BORUCAS - DOTA Today, we will head towards the city of Dota. On the way, we will stop where the indigenous Borucas live and they will teach us the art of mask making, which has a great cultural weight on the life of these natives, but is mainly known for the party called ''Los Diablitos'' which is celebrated in December. Later, we will share a delicious traditional lunch prepared by the Borucas.

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 9 IN SEARCH OF THE QUETZAL - FAMILY GATHERING- TURRIALBA

    IN SEARCH OF THE QUETZAL - FAMILY GATHERING-  TURRIALBA In the morning, we will set off on a short hike in hopes of seeing the majestic and mythical Quetzal. On the way, we will stop in the Tucurriqu community, where Daisy and her family live. They will prepare us a lunch based on small regional specialities and will show us their daily life. Once again we take our route and end our day in Pavones de Turrialba with a family. There, we will spend the night on a farm.

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Guest house
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 10 CAHUITA NATIONAL PARK - CARBON

    CAHUITA NATIONAL PARK - CARBON After breakfast, departure to the Caribbean coast. Upon our arrival, we will visit Cahuita National Park and have a picnic along the sea. This park is fascinating because it combines sea with coral reef, beach, coconut trees, rainforest and rich wildlife. If the weather is favorable, it is possible to swim. In the late afternoon, we will settle into our lodge situated in a green area where Sandra will prepare us a traditional dish whose secret only she possesses.

    Transportation: 3-4 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 2-3 hours

  • Day 11 FREE DAY

    FREE DAY Today, we will enjoy a day to do what we want. For example, we can go to the small village of Puerto Viejo, which, with less than ten kilometers, offers a large quantity of beaches and activities. You can go to the ''jaguar rescue'' wildlife refuge, which is home to hundreds of species of wildlife. You can rent bicycles (around $15-20/day), take cooking or dancing classes (around $40), kayak (approximately $70) or snorkel (around $65...).

    Transportation: 1-2 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: Lunch.

  • Day 12 YORKIN, MEETING WITH INDIGENOUS BRIBRI

    YORKIN, MEETING WITH INDIGENOUS BRIBRI This morning, we will go to the small village of Bambu to go on canoes that will take us to Yorkin where the indigenous Bribris live. We will disembark at the school level and take the main route to cross the native community composed of wooden houses dispersed in the forest. This place is totally adapted to its environment and our hosts show us some of their customs: weaving natural fibers, using bows and arrows, and finally, cocoa tasting. At night, we will sleep in a small, dormitory-style lodge with simple comfort, but it is very charming.

    Transportation: 1-2 hours by bus 1-2h by canoe.
    Accommodation: Bribri community.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 13 TALAMANCA - SAN JOSÉ

    The time to leave has come and we sadly leave the Bribri community to find our canoes and bus to return to San Jose.

    Transportation: 1-2 hours by canoe and 4-5 hours by bus.
    Accommodation: Hotel.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: No.
    Hike duration: 1-2 hours

  • Day 14 SAN JOSE - JUAN SANTAMARIA AIRPORT

    Depending on the hour of your transfer to the airport (arrive to the airport 3 hours before your flight), you can choose to visit the city: Gold Museum, Jade Museum, National Museum, Central Market, Artisan alley...

    Transportation: 30 minutes-1 hour by bus.
    Accommodation: No.
    Meal(s) at the client's expense: Lunch and dinner.

PROGRAM MODIFICATION


Depending on the climate and operating conditions, your guide reserves the right to modify the tour for your safety and comfort.

IMPORTANT: The program can be modified for certain departure dates (when there are two groups at the same time). This trip offers the best conditions to observe abundant wildlife, but these animals are wild and obviously, we cannot guarantee that every animal in the program will be seen.

VOLCANO INFORMATION IN COSTA RICA: Depending on the activity of the volcanoes, it is possible that access to craters are temporarily closed for security purposes. They open and close depending on the volcano's activity and it is rarely possible to know beforehand if access will be open or closed. Currently, Turrialba, Tenorio, Rincon de la Vieja, and Poas are experiencing significant activity and may be closed. Sometimes we can enter the parks without being able to go to the crater, but in some cases, the parks close completely. However, Arenal Volcano is very calm at this time (contrary to what is written in some guidebooks that are not updated, lava flows are not currently visible). Irazu Volcano: we currently do not offer this volcano in the program because it requires a long trip in a vehicle and its acid lake became not so spectacular and the top is always in the clouds.

Dates & prices

Departures for French-speaking groups:

No departure for now

Trip code: UCOSF1

Practical info

Staff


Our organized group trips include a French-speaking guide who is familiar with the country, and a local driver. We can also provide guide and/or driver services to independent travelers. Tourist sites usually offer Spanish and English-speaking guides. French-speaking tourist guides are hired for various days and not periodically.

Food


Consider bringing products from your region to share in the camp at night.
Food: the daily Costa Rican cuisine is unchanging and simple, but good. A solid breakfast, a picnic at noon during the hikes and dinner is eaten in restaurants or where our hosts live.
Drinks: ''ticos'' drink little water, but a lot of fruit juices, which often substitute dessert at dinner. You can buy bottled water if you would like.

Accommodation


The hotels that we choose are small and sufficiently comfortable. Simpler, more eco-friendly accommodations are found in the heart of vegetation.

Transportation


Comfortable minibus, boat and motor boat.

VEHICLE RENTALS
Remember to bring an original copy of your driver's license and your credit card. We recommend that you drive during the day because the highways are not always well lit and the sun rises and sets early (5-6 hours). Park your vehicle in the parking lot or in the space provided for such purpose. Do not leave anything valuable in the vehicle, or at least not in sight. In case of accident, you must not move the vehicle or leave. If someone is injured, call 911 and follow the instructions given by your vehicle rental agent. We also always recommend to take pictures.

Budget & exchange


The exchange rate is very unstable. The exchange rate is around 530 colones = 1 dollar = 0.90 Euros. Almost everything can be paid in colones or dollars, but in general, bills of more than $20 are not accepted. For daily purchases (for example, drinks, souvenirs, etc.), we recommend that you pay with colones. You will be able to get colones upon your arrival in the airport exchange bureaus, at ATMs (Visa/Mastercard) that are found in the country's main cities, or by simply paying in supermarkets with dollars as change is given in colones. When leaving the country, you will have to pay a departure tax. It is equivalent to approximately $29 (payable with credit card, or cash in dollars or colones). For food, anticipate spending between 5 and 15 Euros.

Tips


This is common practice and not mandatory, depending on your satisfaction. They must adapt to the country's living conditions and the length of your trip. This is a gesture of appreciation related to the benefit received. On the other hand, in certain institutions, prices do not include taxes (13%) or services (10%).

Traveling in groups:
with a guide and/or driver: At the end of your trip, it is customary to give your guide and the local team a tip. Typically, for proper service, this is from $3 to $6 USD a day per participant, in other words, between $45 and $90 USD for 15-day trip and between $60 and $120 USD for a 20-day trip. You may also give a small gift to the local team at the end of your stay.

Independent travel:
If you are satisfied with the restaurant service, you can leave between ₡500 and ₡1000 CRC (or, $1 to $2). If regarding a local guide during an activity, anticipate $3 to $6 USD a day per participant.

Vital equipment


Adapting to the climate:
- Mosquito Repellent
- Sun block
- Water resistant
- Hat and sunglasses
- Sweater for cold nights
- Light cotton clothing (t-shirts, shorts)
- 2 or 3 long-sleeved shirts and light pants to protect against mosquitoes
- Bathing suit
- Shoes to work, preferably with a higher top for hiking
- Comfortable sandals for the rest of the day (or even for the bus trip) for better versatility, choose those that support your feet and resist water (for water activities or a rainy day)
- Trekking poles are recommended
- Water bottle (minimum 1 liter)
- Pocket knife - Pocket flashlight or headlamp with batteries and bulbs
- Power adaptor (flat American outlet for round European-style plugs)
- First aid kit

Helpful equipment


- Binoculars. 
- Rubber boots, useful for outings in the rainy season (optional).

Luggage


It is better to use a flexible travel bag with a lateral closure and a drawstring, or possibly a large backpack. There is a 15-kg weight limit for each person.You will also need a backpack (minimum of 35L) to store your daily belongings. It is possible to wash clothes halfway through, so pack your belongings accordingly.
As a precautionary measure, remember to bring sufficient things to survive the first few days in your carry-on luggage just in case your luggage does not arrive at the same time as you. This is not common, but it is better to be prepared for any possibility. We recommend that you bring, among others, underclothes, two t- shirts, walking shoes and sandals.
Do not forget to put any sharp or liquid object in your checked luggage because they are prohibited in the cabin.

Small first aid kit:
- Disinfectant gel or hand wipes
- Tissue paper
- Local, non-alcoholic antiseptic
- Contact solution or one-dose contact antiseptic
- One dose of saline solution
- Box of different size adhesive drapes
- Box of hydrocolloid dressings for blisters (Compeed)
- Box of sterile compresses
- Adhesive tape
-Expandable strips
- Compression wrap (sprains and support)
- Anti-itch cream
- Ointment or spray for surface burns and/or sunburns
- Ointment for bumps and bruises and/or a tube of 9CH homeopathic arnica
- Water purification tablets (Alta or Aquatabs Micropur).

Kit to keep in main luggage:
- Pain reliever and antipyretic (for fever), for example, acetaminophen
- Antihistamines (for allergies)
- Medicine for indigestion
- Antispasmodic (for abdominal pain)
- Anti-nausea medicine (for motion sickness)
- Intestinal antiseptic
- Anti-diarrheal medicine
- Water solution for oral rehydration in case of severe diarrhea
- Antiemetics (for nausea and vomiting)
- Anti-inflammatory gel
- Wide-specter antibiotic treatment (with medical prescription)
- Cold and sore throat treatment (pills)
- Thermometer
- Scissors
- Tweezers
- Liquid mosquito repellent with refills.

Passport


POLICE PROCEDURES
The information given is only reference for French citizens. You may be subject to changes without notification on behalf of the corresponding authority. Therefore, it is advisable to verify them in the month before departure.

PASSPORT:
Passports are valid 6 months after the return date. Upon registering, we ask that you send us your passport information (Last name - Name - Birth date - Passport number - Date of issue and date of expiration). We need this information to book your domestic flights or make entry requests in certain places.

CAUTION:
-It is imperative that you give us the valid information of the passport you are going to take. If you need to renew your passport, wait until you receive the new one to give us the information. Otherwise, it could be denied in certain places.
-All children, regardless of age, must have an individual passport. Children registered on their parent's passport (even with a biometric passport) must obtain a visa.
-In certain cases, you may have to use a US airline, which have layovers in the United States of America and must comply with current regulations if transiting a US airport.

How do you know if your passport is valid to transit through the US?
-Former passport reference (vertical page with the picture): invalid.
-Machine-readable passport (horizontal page that contains the picture and 2 lines of code under the picture): valid if it has been issued before October 25, 2005.
-Passports issued between 26/10/2005 and 26/10/2006: valid if they are machine readable with digital pictures printed on the identification pages (the picture should not be pasted).
-Electronic and biometric passports (horizontal page containing the picture and the electronic chip symbol on the cover under the word ''PASSPORT''): valid.


Travel Authorization Form to the US.
A visa is only necessary if you are going to cross through the United States and your passport does not allow it.

Since January 2009, every passenger that travels or has a layover in the United States of America must have previously completed the ESTA application form on the following website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/in order to receive a travel authorization under the visa waiver program. This authorization is valid for 2 years or until the passport expires. Adults and children (regardless of age) are subject to this procedure. The form can be completed up until at least 72 hours before departure, but it is recommended to do this as soon as the trip is planned. From now on, this service costs approximately 14 USD. Correctly enter the address https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/since other unofficial sites exist on the web and charge more for the service.

Keep in mind that the software program established by the ESTA system does not determine if passports are valid to travel to the US within the framework of the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA system is limited to register passport information provided by the traveler. It is the traveler's sole responsibility to verify if their passport complies with the required characteristics (Source: U.S. Embassy in France).

The name entered on the ESTA form must be the same that is indicated on the plane ticket (of course) and on your passport. If the name that is used on the ESTA form is different from that on the plane ticket, boarding will be denied by the airline.

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS
Even though no vaccination is necessary, you should ensure that common vaccinations given in western countries (tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid fever) are up to date. Vaccinations against hepatitis A and B are also recommended. If you have traveled to South America or Africa less than a week prior, it is necessary to be vaccinated against yellow fever.

Contact details of the Costa Rican Embassy and Consulate: 
Costa Rican Embassy in France 
Address: 4, Plaza Rapp 75007 Paris, France,
Tel: (33) 1 4 578 9696 o (33) 1 4 578 5096
Fax: (+33) 1 4 578 9966

Contact details of the French Embassy and Consulate:
French Embassy in Costa Rica
Address: Curridabat, Mitsubishi agency, 200 meters to the south and 25 meters to the west 10177-1000 Costa Rica. 
Tel: (506) 22 34 41 67 
Fax: (506) 22 34 41 95

Health information & recommendations


PHARMACY
Our guides have a first aid kit that includes: local antiseptics, bandages, compresses, gauze, double -skin bandages, and Elastoplast strips. We recommend to bring a small first aid kit with you for "minor every day injuries," and a second, more complete kit to leave in your main luggage. In case of special treatment, please notify the guide upon your arrival.

RECOMMENDATIONS
There are no mandatory vaccination. However, ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date: tetanus, diphtheria, polio and typhoid fever. Malaria. The country is classified as zone 1. The risk of transmission through a mosquito bite is low. It is advised to protect yourself by applying repellent. We do not recommend the use of preventative treatments if it is not necessary. As a matter of fact, as well as the adverse effects they cause our body, they can cause resistance to plagues, and then the local population is unprotected from the disease. However, we recommend that you follow your doctor's advice.

DENGUE: 
Dengue fever exists in Costa Rica. The occurrence increases during the rainy season. It is recommended that travelers protect themselves against mosquito bites.

YELLOW FEVER:
Very little risk, but the vaccination against yellow fever, which is not mandatory, is valid for 10 years and can be considered. In case of special treatment, let your guide know upon your arrival.

HYGIENE:
Take basic hygiene measures into account, such as washing your hands regularly, especially before eating. The water is drinkable in nearly the entire country, but bacterial and chemical contamination risks exist, especially in the capital and its suburbs. It is recommended to drink bottled water. It is not recommended to eat seafood and certain shellfish on the Pacific coast (The Nicoya Peninsula and Puntarenas province) because of the ''red tide'' that makes them inapt for eating, especially from November to May.

VIRUSES TRANSMITTED BY MOSQUITOS

Applying repellent is recommended to protect yourselves. We do not recommend the use of preventative treatments if it is not necessary. As a matter of fact, as well as the adverse effects they cause our body, they can cause resistance to plagues, and then the local population is unprotected from the disease. However, we recommend that you follow your doctor's advice.

Weather


The tropical climate is hot and humid: the average temperature is around 23°C in San Jose, 31°C on the coast and in the north, and hardly cooler at night and during the year. In altitude, temperatures lower a little and the humidity remains the same, and it may be cold at: 3,000 m from 5 to 15°C.There are 2 seasons in Costa Rica: rainy from May to November (quick, but torrential rains), dry from December to April (sun and clear skies). In short, Costa Rica can be traveled throughout the year without any problems, even if it rains frequently. The country, unlike certain neighboring countries in the Caribbean, is not affected by hurricanes.

Each period of the year has its advantages, however, Costa Rica is known for its diversity and variable, sometimes capricious climate.
- From January to April: sun, wind and drought on the Pacific side (in some areas there is not one drop of rain for 4 or 5 months). The peaks of the dry season are in March and April, but it is less serious on the Caribbean side where it rains regularly all year.
- From April to May is ''spring'' and the rainy season begins.
- From June to July is ''Indian summer'' throughout the entire country (rainfall subsides).
- From August to October, there are beautiful periods of sun on the Caribbean coast (unlike the rainy Pacific).
- From October to December, there are cold fronts in the Caribbean (sunny periods interrupted by rain). The end of the rain and the return of the dry season in the pacific is announced by the trade winds.

Nature also has its calendar of events that are often discreet and sometimes spectacular: the presence of humpback whales between July and August on the Pacific side, nesting sea turtles on the Caribbean or Pacific beaches, great concentration of sea birds, simultaneous blooming of trees, mass migrations of birds of prey, butterflies...

Electricity


110 V, 60 Hz, flat American outlet. Be aware that your appliances designed for 220V will charge a lot slower using 110V. For pictures and videos, anticipate getting your memory card and battery supplies before your departure.

Local time


GMT -6
During summer, Costa Rica is 8 hours behind France. When it is 18:00 pm in Paris, it is 10:00 am in San Jose. During winter, Costa Rica is 7 hours behind France. When it is 18:00 pm in Paris, it is 11:00 am in San Jose.

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Céline

My local agent
Céline

  • Installed in Costa Rica since 1998
  • In love of the nature and tropical culture
  • Guided for ten years
  • Head of the agency of Altai Costa Rica
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Region
Arenal and the North Corcovado and the South San José and its Mountains The Central Pacific
Activity
Best of Family Trip Trek & Hiking
Duration
14 days
Group
4 to 15 people
Code
UCOSF1
Price
From €2,140
Level
2/5
Comfort
3/5
Language(s)
French

Strengths

  • Discover the iconic national parks of Costa Rica; Arenal, Corcovado, Carara, Manuel Antonio, andCahuita


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