Explore the tropical forests of Costa Rica from trails to canopy, joining naturalists on walks and hikes from the base of Arenal Volcano to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and to the beach-lined jungles of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, indulge your sense of adventure on canyoneering, zip-lining, and hanging bridge excursions.

Activity Level: This is a Light Active Journey. Travelers should be reasonably fit and capable of standing, walking, or hiking for several hours sometimes over muddy and uneven rainforest terrain. Travelers can expect 2 to 5 miles of walking or easy hiking over several days.  Day-by-day activity descriptions can be found on the itinerary page at the end of each day.  Read more about Active Journeys activity levels here.

This Active Journey is limited to a maximum of 18 travelers per departure.

 Overlooking a waterfall in Costa Rica
Overlooking a waterfall in Costa Rica
 Zip-line adventure in Costa Rica
Zip-line adventure in Costa Rica
 White-faced capuchin monkey
White-faced capuchin monkey
 Dart frog in Costa Rica
Dart frog in Costa Rica
 Hanging bridges in Costa Rica's tropical forest
Hanging bridges in Costa Rica's tropical forest
 One of many butterfly species of Costa Rica
One of many butterfly species of Costa Rica
 Arenal volcano
Arenal volcano
 Male Crowned Woodnymph Hummingbird
Male Crowned Woodnymph Hummingbird
 The beach of Manuel Antonio National Park
The beach of Manuel Antonio National Park
 Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park

Costa Rica Treetops and Trails: An Active Journey

8 days from $3,349

Explore the tropical forests of Costa Rica from trails to canopy, joining naturalists on walks and hikes from the base of Arenal Volcano to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and to the beach-lined jungles of Manuel Antonio National Park. Along the way, indulge your sense of adventure on canyoneering, zip-lining, and hanging bridge excursions.

Activity Level: This is a Light Active Journey. Travelers should be reasonably fit and capable of standing, walking, or hiking for several hours sometimes over muddy and uneven rainforest terrain. Travelers can expect 2 to 5 miles of walking or easy hiking over several days.  Day-by-day activity descriptions can be found on the itinerary page at the end of each day.  Read more about Active Journeys activity levels here.

This Active Journey is limited to a maximum of 18 travelers per departure.

Overview

Experience the extraordinary biodiversity of Costa Rica exploring from the trail to the treetops on a journey through four unique habitats. Venture into the rainforests of Sarapiquí and Manuel Antonio National Parks on naturalist-led hikes and walks, discovering an astonishing range of flora and fauna and learning about efforts to protect them. Choose to go hiking or canyoneering at the base of Arenal Volcano and cap off the day with a soak in hot springs. Explore the misty canopy of Monteverde Cloud Forest on a hanging bridges course or by zip line, watching for monkeys and rare birds. Sample coffee made with beans fresh off the tree and sit down to a farm-to-table lunch at a local farm. Head off the beaten path for a dip in a refreshing river and end your journey on the beautiful beaches of the Pacific coast.

Highlights Include:

  • Tirimbina: Join a naturalist for a nature walk through the rainforests of this refuge on the banks of the Sarapiquí River. Learn about the many hundreds of species that make their home here, from butterflies and frogs to anteaters and ocelots, and hear about research and conservation efforts at the reserve. 
  • Arenal Volcano: Discover the wonders of Arenal on a rainforest hike or a canyoneering adventure in Lost Canyon, and take a relaxing soak in the hot springs. Later, cross Lake Arenal by private boat, hearing from a naturalist about the history of the lake and the biodiversity of the surrounding jungle.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve: Navigate a vast network of hanging bridges through the canopy or swing through the trees on a zip-lining and rappelling adventure. Then head into the cloud forest on a morning walk with a naturalist, getting an up-close look at its rare flora and fauna.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park: Follow a naturalist along jungle trails, observing a range of endemic creatures including monkeys, sloths, and birds, and learning about the rainforest’s unique plant species. Stay just outside the park and enjoy ample free time to explore the park’s pristine beaches or pursue optional activities.
  • Local Farm Visits: Visit a coffee farm and witness the production process from the tree to the cup. Harvest herbs and vegetables at a farm near the coast; then get hands-on making traditional corn tortillas before a delightful lunch of local specialties made from the produce you picked.

Itinerary

Day 1 — San José, Costa Rica

Arrive in San José and transfer to your hotel in the city center. Gather this evening for a briefing with your trip leader before setting out for a welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant. (D)

Day 2 — Tirimbina / Arenal

Travel north to the Tirimbina Rainforest Center for a first encounter with Costa Rica’s legendary biodiversity. Follow a naturalist along rainforest paths that straddle the Sarapiquí River, discovering the flora and fauna of the reserve, where over 1,400 species of butterfly have been spotted as well as some 400 species of bird. Then visit a community coffee cooperative to learn about coffee production from farm to cup before sitting down to a typical Costa Rican lunch. Continue to our hotel located in the countryside outside the town of La Fortuna at the foot of Arenal Volcano.  (B,L,D)

Walking: 3-4 miles rainforest path and farm trails, mostly flat.

Day 3 — Arenal

With lush rainforests, a stunning lake, lava fields, and a now-dormant volcano, there is much to explore in this region of Costa Rica. Choose one of two excursions today: Go canyoneering in Lost Canyon, rappelling down waterfalls, swimming in natural pools, and hiking through the rainforest. Or take a naturalist-led hike near the base of Arenal Volcano, discovering the natural history of the area and watching for birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. Lunch is included on both excursions. During a free afternoon and evening, your trip leader will have restaurant recommendations and can assist with arranging optional activities; consider going paddleboarding on Lake Arenal, hiking to a waterfall, or exploring Arenal’s hanging bridges. This evening, take a relaxing soak at a nearby hot springs facility. (B,L)

Option 1: Canyoneering, rappelling down waterfalls, canyon walls and scrambling over boulders, rainforest hiking (1-2 miles).

Option 2: Hiking: 3 miles, forest trails with some lava rocks.

Day 4 – Monteverde Cloud Forest

Cross Lake Arenal by private boat and continue by road through the scenic highlands, hearing from a local naturalist about the resident wildlife and the history of the manmade lake. Arrive in the mountain town of Monteverde in time for lunch at a popular local restaurant. Check into our hotel in the countryside and take the rest of the afternoon and evening to relax at the hotel or catch a transfer on your own to town for a walk or optional activities, such as visiting the butterfly garden or frog pond. (B,L)

Day 5 – Monteverde Cloud Forest

Rise before the sun and join a local guide for a morning nature walk in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, getting a closer look at orchids, frogs, and unusual plant species endemic to this habitat. This afternoon, choose one of two excursions within the cloud forest: Set out on a guided walk on a vast network of hanging bridges and towers that thread through the forest canopy.  From your birds-eye perspective, watch for birds and monkeys in the treetops. Alternatively, embark on an exhilarating adventure in the cloud forest canopy that will have you soaring through the trees on a Tarzan swing, a giant rappel, and a 450-foot-high zip line. Meet up with the group for dinner tonight. (B,D)

Morning walk: 3-miles nature walk, forest trails, mostly flat.

Afternoon choice:  

Option 1: Walking: 2 miles, elevated walkways and hanging bridges.

Option 2: Zip-lining canopy adventure.

Day 6 –Manuel Antonio National Park

Emerge from the cloud forest and head for the Pacific coast. Your destination is Manuel Antonio National Park, where thick jungle reaches all the way to pristine beaches.  En route, enjoy a visit to a local farm (finca) for a hands-on learning experience about organic farming. On a walk through the ranch learn about the agricultural process, important crops and farm animals, then pick fresh ingredients for lunch. Afterwards, meet the cook and learn how to make traditional corn tortillas, ceviches with plantain or banana, and hearty tomato-based dishes which we enjoy for lunch. After lunch, take a short walk to a nearby river, and take a quick swim if you like. Continue to the coast and check in to your resort, and enjoy a free evening to relax by the pool or grab a bite to eat in one of the nearby restaurants. (B,L)

Walking: 2 miles, farm and countryside, mostly flat.

Day 7 – Manuel Antonio National Park

After breakfast, venture into Manuel Antonio National Park on a walk with an expert naturalist, stopping on the trail to observe the wildlife you encounter, which might include three species of monkey, iguanas, sloths, and a plethora of bird species. Hear about efforts to preserve this rainforest and walk along some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The remainder of the day is yours to relax on the beach or take part in one of the many activities offered here, from rainforest spice tours to mangrove kayaking. Celebrate your Costa Rican adventure at a farewell dinner this evening. (B,D)

Walking: 3 miles, sandy forest trails, mostly flat.

Optional afternoon activities: mangrove kayaking, spice tour, etc. (additional cost,  availability varies based on weather, season and tide)

Day 8 – Return Home

After breakfast, travel from Manuel Antonio to San Jose International Airport by private shuttle and connect to your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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