Day 1 ARRIVE IN GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA–ANTIGUA.
Upon arrival, meet your Local Host and transfer to Antigua, Guatemala’s capital from 1543 until a devastating earthquake in 1776, when it was moved to Guatemala City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua is one of the Americas’ oldest and most beautiful cities, with pastel-colored buildings, wide cobblestone streets, and a beautiful natural setting ringed by three volcanoes.
Day 2 ANTIGUA.
Our morning TOUR of this magnificent highlands city, known for its 16th-century Spanish Colonial architecture, includes lively Plaza Mayor, flanked by the impressive Catedral de San José and Palace of the Capitanes Generales. We also see the ruins of churches and monasteries, some with hidden underground passages destroyed by the earthquake of 1776, and take a tour of a JADE FACTORY.
Day 3 ANTIGUA–CHICHICASTENANGO–LAKE ATITLÁN.
Today, reach the whitewashed highland town of Chichicastenango to visit the colorful, open-air INDIAN MARKET and the Catholic CHURCH OF SANTO TOMÁS to witness ancient Mayan ceremonies that have long been practiced there. Continue to the shores of Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and indigenous villages.
Day 4 LAKE ATITLÁN–GUATEMALA CITY.
This morning, CRUISE across Lake Atitlán. Visit the Indian village of SANTIAGO ATITLÁN and meet the Tzutuhil people, one of Guatemala’s indigenous tribes. This afternoon, head back to Guatemala City for an included dinner.
Day 5 GUATEMALA CITY–FLORES–TIKAL–GUATEMALA CITY.
Fly to Flores, where you will be transferred to the mystical archaeological site of TIKAL, located in the middle of the rainforest. Your guided tour showcases this Mayan city that was inhabited from 600–900 AD and at its height supported a population of 90,000 people. Explore the complex and its temples, main plazas, palaces, and pyramids. Later today, depart for Flores and your return flight to Guatemala City.
Day 6 GUATEMALA CITY–SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA.
Fly to San José where you will be met by your Tour Director, who will help you check into your hotel.
Day 7 SAN JOSÉ–CARIARI–TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK.
Journey east to the Caribbean shore and TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK. On the way, stop at a BANANA PLANTATION to see one of Costa Rica’s main exports being harvested. Later, board a motor launch for your CRUISE along the Tortuguero Canals, waterways crisscrossing a national park dedicated to the protection of endangered turtles. The trained eyes of your guide and boatman help you spot freshwater turtles, caimans, herons, toucans, egrets, and monkeys. An afternoon at leisure lets you explore Evergreen Lodge until you meet for an informative slideshow presentation on the area.
Day 8 TORTUGUERO NATIONAL PARK TOUR & CANAL CRUISE.
A local Naturalist accompanies you on a leisurely BOAT RIDE along remote, unspoiled sections of the park’s waterways, explaining the bountiful flora and fauna. Enjoy a fascinating stroll through an accessible portion of the nearby RAINFOREST. During the peak nesting season (mid-July to mid-October) you may be lucky enough to observe an endangered green turtle laying her eggs under the starlight on an optional tour.
Day 9 TORTUGUERO–SARAPIQUI–ARENAL.
A morning boat transfer begins your journey to the Sarapiqui area. Tour a [LF] PINEAPPLE FARM, owned by a local family, and learn about the history, cultivation, and industry of pineapples. Continue to your hotel in the lush town of Arenal, located in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. After settling in, experience the magic of the resort’s pool and hot spring-fed jacuzzi or consider a walk in the nearby nature trail in search of 300- to 400-year-old trees, poisonous frogs, monkeys, birds, and possibly small animals native to the area.
Day 10 ARENAL. EXCURSION TO ARENAL VOLCANO.
During your morning at leisure, you may wish to go on an optional horseback ride or float trip. Or, you can take advantage of your resort’s amenities by walking along the shaded trails nearby. Later this afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the town of La Fortuna de San Carlos, offering spectacular views of the active Arenal Volcano. Visit NATURA PARK, where a Naturalist takes you on a guided tour of this ecological park that is home to a wide variety of plants and animals from the region. During your walk, keep an eye out for the toucans, iguanas, frogs, birds, butterflies, and caimans commonly seen here. Next, drive to nearby famous [LF] TABACÓN HOT SPRINGS for a dip in the curative and relaxing pools. Later, enjoy a dinner at the hot springs.
Day 11 ARENAL–MONTEVERDE.
After breakfast, continue to MONTEVERDE, where you will enjoy two days in the cloud forest. This afternoon, take a guided tour on the SKYWALK hanging bridges, which combines trails and suspension bridges through the canopy of Monteverde Cloud Forest, to search for flora and fauna.
Day 12 MONTEVERDE.
This morning, visit SANTA ELENA CLOUD FOREST RESERVE for a walking tour. Located on the Continental Divide of Costa Rica, the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve comprises an area of 765 acres, and is home to forest fauna, such as the resplendent quetzal, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, and numerous species of birds. With almost 100% humidity throughout the year, the cloud forest experiences almost 12 feet of rain per year. Later, visit the family-owned [LF] TRAPICHE FARM, where you will enjoy a homemade lunch. While here, learn about the production of sugar cane, coffee, and the traditional ways of cultivating bananas, arracacha (a local legume), avocado, macadamia nuts, as well as other products. The remainder of your day is at leisure. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a farewell dinner, toasting an unforgettable discovery of Costa Rica.
Day 13 MONTEVERDE–QUEPOS–MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK AREA.
Take a morning drive to the Pacific Ocean to the town of Quepos, gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park. Dense mangrove swamps sheltering a variety of wildlife back up to the pristine beaches in this area. It is not uncommon to see iguanas and white-faced monkeys on the beach. For the more active, there are jungle hikes suited to all levels. Other local activities include canopy tours, deep-sea fishing, diving, sea kayaking, and mountain biking.
Days 14-15 MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK AREA.
Enjoy two days at leisure. (B daily)
Day 16 MANUEL ANTONIO NATIONAL PARK AREA.
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. Please do not schedule your return flights before 12:30 pm.