A trip for all nature lovers with an emphasis on the most beautiful nature reserves, the wild and exciting rainforests in Costa Rica, the fascinating Indian markets of Ecuador and the tour‘s highlight: the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago with rich and varied flora, exquisite landscapes and a wide variety of endemic species.
Day 1: San Jose- Santo Domingo
Transfer in to San Jose, Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an isthmus of land with volcanic origin, 12% of which has been declared National Parks and another 16% of which is "protected areas". Upon arrival we will drive to the hotel.
Day 2: San Jose – Tortoguero Reserve
Today‘s activities will begin with a drive (via Guapiles) and a boat ride to the Caribbean coast for our visit to the lowland rainforest Tortoguero, otherwise known as the "Amazon of Costa Rica". This is the most important nestling site of the Green Turtles between the months of July and September and serves as the home to hundreds of animals year-round. We will take a boat ride through the canals of the park and see some of the wildlife that ranges from sloths to herons.
Day 3: Tortoguero Reserve – Saraquipi
Following breakfast, we will take a boat ride via the Nicaraguan border to the heart of the country‘s banana-producing region for a visit to Sarapiqui. Puerto Viejo (Old Port) is the main town in the area and once served as the country‘s major port. We will transfer to the Sarapiqui Lodge where lunch will be served. Hereafter, we will see and learn about the plants and animals that are indigenous to this area.
Day 4: Saraquipi – Poas and Arenal Volcanoes
Today we will make our way south where we will admire the active Poas Volcano with its awesome crater that often looks eerie due to the steam and clouds surrounding it. From there we will continue northwest to the Tabacon Resort that stands by the cone-shaped Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. We will enjoy a visit to the hot- springs and if the night sky permits, we will be able not only hear but also see a spectacle of "fireworks" caused by the eruption of lava.
Day 5: Arenal - Monteverde
After breakfast in the heart of nature, we will continue to the area of the Monteverde Reserve, a forest where an average day is a "walk in the clouds". Here we will be surrounded by lush, green growth and have good chances of seeing the bird whose feathers were once prized like gold, the Resplendent Quetzal. Before visiting the park itself, we will eat lunch at the hotel, "El Establo", and pay a visit to the hummingbird gallery (where dozens of hummingbirds can be admired in their natural state) for a slide show. We will take a night tour in the outdoors to feel another side of the wild. Dinner and overnight at the lodge (located just a few kilometers from the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena Rain Forest).
Day 6: Monteverde
This morning we will experience an unforgettable system of trails and suspension bridges that offer the feeling of a walk in the sky. This trek in the forest will provide us new vantage points above a canopy of tropical scenery. We will spend the entire day surrounded by the lush green forest. Dinner and overnight by Monteverde.
Day 7: Monteverde - Manuel Antonio
We will leave south this morning to the white, sandy beaches of Quepos on the Pacific Coast, home to Manuel Antonio National Park. If time allows, we will spend the afternoon visiting the park.
Day 8: Manuel Antonio - San Jose - Santo Domingo
Today we will make our way back east via the Taracoles River where the American crocodiles can be found sunbathing along the banks. We will conclude our visit to this "Natural Beauty" by getting to know her capital, San Jose. After having spent the past week surrounded by a sea of never-ending green, we will learn about the buildings and architecture of the "big city". We will visit the National Theater and Central Market.
Day 9: Santo Domingo - San Jose - Quito
After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Ecuador‘s capital city, we will take a city tour to become acquainted with some of the charmful contrasts it has to offer. Quito, once a city of the Incas, lies at the foot of the Pichincha volcano and offers the beauties of parks, cobblestone roads, steep alleys, and a mountain setting at a height of nearly 5,000meters above sea level. Dinner and overnight in Quito.
Day 10-14: Quito - Galapagos Islands
Today we will transfer to the airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago that lies 960 kilometers west of the mainland. The Galapagos were formed by a sub oceanic lava vent on the Pacific Ocean floor more than five hundred years ago but they have become better known worldwide over the past hundred years since Charles Darwin brought them to fame. Upon arrival we will board the Eden, a vessel that will serve as our home for the next 5 days as we explore the northeastern triangle of islands: Baltra, Genovesa, Bartolome, Rabida, and Santa Cruz.
Day 14: Galapagos - Quito
Today we will leave the ship life and return to dry land. We will take a flight back to Quito and continue to the "World‘s Halfpoint" - "Mitad del Mundo" - located at "0" longitude "0" altitude, nearby the capital city. Return to Quito for dinner and overnight.
Day 15: Quito - Saquisili
Following breakfast, we will drive south to the Saquisili Indian Market where the red ponchos and felt hats stand out among the crowds of locals and tourists that congregate on Thursdays. Here we will absorb the true flavor of the local culture. Overnight will be at the 400 year old colonial Hacienda La Cienega, located near the slopes of the Cotopaxi volcano and its National Park.
Day 16: Laguna Quilotoa - Quito
Today we will visit the emerald colored Laguna Quilotoa, a beautiful lake nestled in the crater of a volcano for which its name was given. With the snow-capped volcanoes providing a relaxing backdrop, we will enjoy a picnic lunch in the peaceful, natural surroundings. After lunch we will return to Quito for overnight.
Day 17: Quito - Otavalo - Quito
After breakfast we will visit Otavalo, a village that is home to one of Latin America‘s most popular markets. Here we will hear the merchants speak their native Quechua tongue and we will see the colorful textiles that they bring to market. We will continue to the Pisanqui Ranch for lunch and return to the capital for overnight.
Day 18: Quito
After breakfast we will head to the airport for our flight home.
*Tours must begin on Thursays in order to visit the markets on the indicated days.